I’m just back from my last trip as a visitor to the US before I move over in a couple of months! Being able to visit whilst the visa was processing was something that we initially thought wasn’t possible and it wasn’t until I found this thread on Visa Journey that I realised most people visit no problem. However, if you are anything like me you will still be searching for further examples to put your mind at rest, so I thought I’d share my own personal experience!
In a nutshell … Yes you can visit! There is nothing to say that you are under no circumstances allowed to visit your significant other whilst you are going through the K1 process. I applied for my ESTA visa after we had booked our medical appointment (June 23rd 2017) and our visa interview appointment (June 30th 2017) and it was approved no problem. The general consensus is that your entry into the USA is at the discretion of the Port of Entry Officer who processes you upon entering the country. Providing you can evidence that you have ties to your home country and can show an intent to return – then you should be OK.
I was travelling out on the 18th of May from Glasgow International Airport (Scotland, UK) to JFK International Airport (New York, USA) and would be in the US for just under 1 week, returning on the 24th of May.
When I landed at JFK as I had previously held an ESTA visa I was able to go through the self-service initial processing machines. Here you scan your passport, answer a couple of basic questions, your picture as well as finger prints are taken and a receipt is printed for you to give to the POE officer. The first POE officer I spoke to asked the following:
- Where are you visiting from?
- How long for?
- What do you do for a living?
He then stamped my passport, told me to have a good trip and gave me my receipt and passport back.
The next thing you do at JFK is collect your baggage. As I am due to move over soon I had a large case and a very large duffel bag filled with clothes etc., to leave at my fiance’s house. Once I collected my bags I proceeded to the final POE officer and presented my receipt again, the conversation went like this:
POE Officer: How long are you visiting for?
Me: 6 Days
POE Officer: Why do you have so many bags?
Me: I am moving half of my stuff over here as I am planning to move over permanently during the second half of this year
POE Officer: Are you going to be studying here?
Me: No I am getting married, I am in the final stages of the K1 visa process and will be returning home to complete my interview in June and move over once that is approved.
POE Officer: OK no problem, good luck and tell your fiance he is a lucky man!
That was literally it! After he heard K1 visa process, he seemed to not be concerned whatsoever and I think that’s because I was so honest and upfront. I was prepared to get all my evidence out but it wasn’t required. All in all, it took me about 45 minutes from getting off the plane to being with my fiance!
How to evidence ties to your home country
Here is a list of all the evidence I had collated, just in case I was asked for by US Immigration and Customs:
- Travel itinerary (showing return flight date)
- Copy of NOA2
- Copy of NVC letter
- Medical booking confirmation email
- K1 Visa interview appointment confirmation
- DS-160 confirmation page
- Travel insurance policy (showing dates insured to and from)
- Print out of ESTA confirmation
- Flight booking confirmation for Medical and Interview in London
- March 2017 pay slip from employer
- Letter from work confirming employment and stating the date they are expecting me back to work
- Copy of 2 outstanding bills (car insurance payments & car finance deal payments)
Although I didn’t need to provide any evidence of ties to my home country, I would strongly recommend that if you do intend to visit – you come prepared. Best to have too much and not be asked for it, than have nothing and be asked and sent back home for not being able to prove ties.
Experiences may differ depending on the country you are coming from and the airport you are flying into in the US but this was my personal experience and it was as relaxed and easy as any other trip I’ve made to the US, prior to the K1 processing!