Visas for Parents to Accompany F-1 Student to the U.S.

The B-2 (visitor for pleasure) visa is as flexible as a world-class gymnast. The State Department has announced that a B-2 visa may be used by parents to accompany a minor with an F-1 (student) visa to the U.S.

As background, its well known that an F-1 student’s spouse and children (under age 21) can get F-2 visas to accompany the student in the U.S. Children in F-2 status are able to attend public school in the United States.  Spouses in F-2 status may not work. Procedurally speaking, F-2 visa applicants will need to obtain a Form I-20 (Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant F-1 Student Status) from the F-1 student’s school but will not need to pay the SEVIS fee.

But what about other family members of the F-1 student besides the spouse and unmarried children? F-2 visas are unavailable to parents, in-laws, or adult sons and daughters of an F-1 student.

The State Department says that the B-2 classification is appropriate for noncitizens who are members of the household of another person with F-1 or other long-term nonimmigrant status. Other examples include cohabitating partners or elderly parents of temporary workers, students, or diplomats posted to the U.S.

Household members may be allowed to stay in the U.S. for the same period as the long-term nonimmigrant relative they are accompanying. For example, if an F-1 student is admitted to a 4-year high school program in the U.S., the parents may be able to stay in the U.S. for the same period. At the port of entry, they may request that the supervisor initially admit them for a period of one year. Extensions in increments of up to six months are available thereafter.

Here’s the rule:

9 FAM 402.2-4(B)(5) Cohabitating Partners, Extended Family Members, and Other Household Members not Eligible for Derivative Status

(CT:VISA-1; 11-18-2015)
(Previous Location: 9 FAM 41.31 N14.4; CT:VISA-2195; 10-14-2014)

The B-2 classification is appropriate for aliens who are members of the household of another alien in long-term nonimmigrant status, but who are not eligible for derivative status under that alien’s visa classification. This is also an appropriate classification for aliens who are members of the household of a U.S. citizen who normally lives and works overseas, but is returning to the United States for a temporary time period. Such aliens include, but are not limited to the following: cohabitating partners or elderly parents of temporary workers, students, diplomats posted to the United States, and accompanying parent(s) of minor F-1 child-student. B-2 classification may also be accorded to a spouse or child who qualifies for derivative status (other than derivative A or G status) but for whom it may be inconvenient or impossible to apply for the proper H-4, L-2, F-2, or other derivative visa, provided that the derivative individual intends to maintain a residence outside the United States and otherwise meets the B visa eligibility requirements. If such individuals plan to stay in the United States for more than six months, they should be advised to ask the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for a one-year stay at the time they apply for admission. If needed, they may thereafter apply for extensions of stay, in increments of up to six months, for the duration of the principal alien’s nonimmigrant status in the United States. You should consider annotating to indicate the purpose and length of stay in such cases.

While the B-2 visa is flexible, there are important limitations. Most importantly, like F-1 visa applicants, B-2 visa applicants must prove they meet the “nonimmigrant intent” requirement. This means they must have an unabandoned residence abroad to which they intend to return after a temporary stay in the U.S. Generally speaking, a “residence” refers to one’s main home where they sleep most nights and to which they will return after temporary absences. In deciding whether a B-2 applicant meets this requirement, the officer will consider whether they have such strong family, economic, cultural, and other ties to their home country that the consular officer is persuaded the applicant will return home upon completion of the stated purpose of the visit. For details, see Proving Nonimmigrant Intent for a U.S. Visa.

The U.S. Embassy in Beijing posts this FAQ:

Q.6 My child is studying in the United States. Can I go live with him?
While you can use your own B-1/B-2 visa (or travel under the Visa Waiver Program, if eligible) to visit your child, you may not live with your child unless you have your own immigrant, work, or student visa.

That FAQ is a fair interpretation of the law to the extent that a B-2 visa is only for persons who “reside” (live) abroad and are coming to the U.S. just temporarily. For a parent who wishes to accompany an F-1 student to the U.S. for multiple years, it can be hard to draw a distinction between prohibited intent to abandon their foreign residence (living in the U.S.) and permissible temporary stay in the U.S. Yet that’s what the B-2 applicant needs to prove to the consular officer.

Where the B-2 visa applicant seeks to accompany an F-1 student, you can anticipate that a consular officer will also scrutinize the student’s lawful status and nonimmigrant intent. If the student has violated status or lacks nonimmigrant intent, the B-2 visa application will likely be denied.

Another challenge is that B-2 visitors in the U.S. are not authorized to work. So a parent applying for a B-2 visa will need to prove sufficient savings to cover living expenses and the child’s tuition for the entire contemplated period in the U.S.

An example of a strong B-2 visa application may be where there are compelling reasons for the child to study in the U.S., such as in a special education program or a gifted program that is not available in the home country. In such compelling situations, a U.S. consular officer may understand that a parent may be willing to take a prolonged (but still temporary) leave from a job in his or her home country just so the child can take advantage of the unique educational opportunity.

There may be other ways to achieve the same result. For example, the parent may apply for a U.S. work visa, such as an H-1B, J-1, L-1, or O-1, and the child may be able to apply for either the F-1 student visa or the dependent visa corresponding to the parent’s work visa (H-4, J-2, L-2, or O-3).

Feel free to schedule a consultation with our firm to discuss this in further detail.

Univ. of Northern New Jersey: a Federal Sting Operation Targeting Student Visa Fraud

unnjIn a first-of-its-kind sting operation, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) established a sham school in September 2013. The University of Northern New Jersey offered no classes or instructors. But for a price it offered to shady recruiters an opportunity to obtain fraudulent student visas for foreign customers. Continue reading “Univ. of Northern New Jersey: a Federal Sting Operation Targeting Student Visa Fraud”

China Daily on Rising Numbers of Expat Students in China

China Daily on March 3 featured an article entitled “Expat Student Numbers Rise in China” by Chen Jia.

The key points are that China in 2010 had a record 260,000 foreign students and by 2020 will draw an estimated 500,000 foreign students, according to the Ministry of Education.

South Korea sent the largest group, followed by the United States, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, Russia, Indonesia, India, Kazakhstan and Pakistan.

The Ministry of Education is working with the US to implement a four-year education program initiated by President Hu Jintao and his US counterpart Barack Obama. US students in China are set to become one of the largest of the foreign groups, as Beijing and Washington work together to bring 100,000 students to China in the next four years, education officials say.

U.S. Visitor Visa Approval Rates for Chinese Still Climbing

The U.S. Department of State has announced that the Fiscal Year 2010 adjusted refusal rate for B (visitor) visas for Chinese nationals is 13.3%.

That’s a continuing, significant improvement over prior years:

2010: 13.3%
2009: 15.6%
2008: 18.2%
2007: 20.7%
2006: 24.5%

In comparison, here are the 2010 refusal rates for some other countries:

Brazil: 5.2%
India: 26.8%
Mexico: 11.1%
Poland: 9.8%
Russia: 10.1%
Taiwan: 2.2%
Thailand: 13.5%
Ukraine: 31.8%

By far the most common reason that B visas are refused is failure to prove that the U.S. visit will be temporary and that the applicant doesn’t intend to abandon his or her residence in China.

I could speculate regarding the potential reasons for China’s climbing approval rates:

a. Changes in the relative strength of the U.S. and China economies has lessened the incentive for people  to apply for B visas with the hope of remaining permanently in the U.S.

b. Falling numbers of unauthorized immigrants from China living in the U.S. makes the U.S. Consular Mission in China more comfortable issuing B visas.

c. The rise of other immigration alternatives for Chinese, such as Canada and Australia, means that there is less pressure for unqualified persons to seek B visas.

Any factors I’m missing?


1. DOS figures include B-1 (visitor for business), B-2 (visitor for pleasure), and B-1/B-2 visas.
2. “Adjusted” refusal rate includes as approvals cases where the case is initially refused (such as for lack of evidence) but later approved upon reconsideration.
3. Fiscal Year 2010 runs from Oct. 1, 2009 to Sept. 30, 2010.
4. Don’t be fooled by the relatively high refusal rates for countries whose citizens are allowed visa-free travel to the U.S. (e.g., Great Britain and Northern Ireland 25.5%). Many people applying for visas from such countries are doing so because of past U.S. immigration violations or other negative factors such as criminal histories.

Tectonic Shift: Now Chinese Undergrads Are Studying Abroad


In the past, Chinese students applied in droves to study in science, technical, and math graduate programs in the U.S. But a tectonic shift is taking place. Now, greater numbers of Chinese are applying to study as undergraduates abroad too. Leading reasons seem to be:

* Greater wealth in China means more families can afford to send their children abroad.

* In particular, greater wealth means that families can send their children abroad even without a grad school scholarship, teaching assistant or research assistant grant to help cover tuition.

* The Chinese higher education system can’t meet the demand. Ten million students take the annual national college entrance test, competing for only 5.7 million admission slots.

* Going abroad is an alternative for students who don’t pass the college entrance test or who don’t get into their school/major of choice in China.

Chinese undergrads and graduate students in the U.S. now total about 100,000.

Read more in USA today.

Record Number of Chinese Students in U.S. Universities

In academic year 2007/08, there were 81,127 students from China studying in the United States, up 19.8% from the previous year. That makes China the second-leading place of origin for students coming to the United States, following India (94,563). These figures were released in a study called Open Doors: Report on International Educational Exchange, published annually by the Institute of International Education with support from the U.S. Department of State.

In my opinion, the record numbers are in part attributable to aggressive recruiting by U.S. schools in China as well as China’s booming economy. Also, the numbers mark a rebound in Chinese students confidence in the U.S. visa system. After 9/11, Chinese students were disappointed by a high rate of visa denials and long security checks that delayed visa issuance by months for some.

According to the report, the majority of Chinese students study at the graduate level: 20.3% undergraduate, 65.4% graduate students, 4.8% other, 9.5% optional practical training.

China sent no students to the U.S. from the 1950s until 1974/75. In the 1980s, numbers of Chinese students grew dramatically, and in 1988/89, China displaced Taiwan as the leading sender. China was the leading place of origin from 1988/89 until it was displaced by Japan in 1994/95. In 1998/99, China overtook Japan as the leading sender, and remained in the number one position until being overtaken by India in 2001/02, and has remained in second place since.

Year: # of Students From China (% of Total Foreign Students in U.S.):

2007/08: 81,127 (13%)
2006/07: 67,723 (11.6%)
2005/06: 62,582 (11.1%)
2004/05: 62,523 (11.1%)
2003/04: 61,765 (10.8%)
2002/03: 64,757 (11.0%)
2001/02: 63,211 (10.8%)
2000/01: 59,939 (10.9%)
1999/00: 54,466 (10.6%)
1998/99: 51,001 (10.4%)
1997/98: 46,958 (9.8%)
1996/97: 42,503 (7.8%)
1995/96: 39,613 (8.7%)

U.S. Visa Application Fee Increase


Effective January 1, 2008, the application fee for a U.S. nonimmigrant visa will increase from $100 to $131. Those applicants who paid the prior $100 application fee before January 1, 2008 will be processed without further payment only if they appear for a visa interview before January 31, 2008.

Applicants who paid the prior $100 application fee and appear for visa interviews after January 31, 2008 must pay the difference – $31 – at CITIC Bank and obtain a receipt before they will be interviewed.

Any payments made after January 1, 2008, regardless of the interview date, must be for the full $131 fee.


Effective January 1, 2008, the application fee for a U.S. immigrant visa will increase from $335 to $355. Those applicants who paid the prior $335 application fee before January 1, 2008 will be processed without further payment even if they appear for an immigrant visa interview after January 1, 2008.

Most IV applicants pay their fees through the Department of State’s National Visa Center (NVC) in the United States. Fee bills sent by NVC will reflect this change effective January 1, 2008. Applicants who make their payment after January 1, 2008 will be required to pay the increase even if their original fee bill sent prior to January 1, 2008 displays the fee of $335.

Source: U.S. Embassy