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jvette

My German GF's J-1 visa is coming up soon - how do we handle the topic of being in a relationship?

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Hi All,

I've been in a long-distance relationship with my German girlfriend since November 2018. About 6 months ago we decided that we needed to have plans to "close the gap" in order to keep the relationship going and landed on her moving to San Francisco to live with me. After a significant amount of research, we landed on the J-1 visa (Trainee Program) as the best way to get her here without having to unnecessarily rush tying the knot and getting married. See below for a quick summary of our situation:
 

  • We met in November 2018 and have been going back and forth visiting each other ever since. My GF has been to the US three times (March 2019 to SF, July 2019 to Miami, and most recently in December for the holidays. She's entered on the Visa Waiver Program each time and has had no issues with CBP thus far.
  • She had two interviews while here for the holidays and just accepted an offer for a J-1 Trainee position at a German/American school here in the Bay Area. My GF has her BA in Business Administration (emphasizing in NPOs) and will be working as a Marketing trainee at the school for 15 months — April 2020 through August 2021.

  • The school has hosted J-1s before so they have a sponsor we're going through that they've worked with in the past. My GF has submitted her application with the sponsor and the school's just wrapping up her training plan. Once that's done, we'll receive the official approval at which point they'll mail my GF the DS-2019 and her SEVIS ID that she needs to schedule her visa interview at the consulate in Frankfurt.

With that said, we've both read up on the general tips and advice on how to best handle the visa interview. It seems that the main criteria in order to get the visa (assuming all your ducks are in a row with regards to the host company and your trainee position) is demonstrating sufficient ties to your home country. My GF plans to communicate the following if needed:

  • She has a flat she's been renting (from her parents) for the last two years and will be subleasing it for the year that she's gone. All of her belongings and furniture will stay there — I.e. she's not about to leave all that behind!

  • Both of her parents live in Stuttgart and she also has a brother closeby in a neighboring city.

My concern is what happens if the fact that she has an American boyfriend surfaces during the interview? I've read interview recaps where the CBP officer never even bothered to ask where they're going to be living, but for the sake of being prepared, I'm assuming that it's going to come up. While having a significant other isn't grounds for denial by itself, I'm concerned that it could potentially be an issue. The CBP officer could consider her at risk for overstaying the visa if he/she thinks we secretly plan to get married while she's here for the Trainee Program.

Does anyone have any general advice to share with me here? I know there's nothing we can really do but tell the truth and hope that the CBP Officer doesn't take issue with her having an American boyfriend. My GF and I have both discussed how important it is to be honest with CBP and to NEVER lie under any circumstances.

If asked "Where will you be staying during the program?" she could easily say that she'll be living with a "friend" - but the risk of this going south doesn't seem worth it. They'll have her US immigration record there and will surely be able to see that she's been here three times over the last 12 months. I'm not sure how detailed of notes they take, but I know she's specifically mentioned coming to see her boyfriend during at least one of her entrance "chats" with CBP and would assume they took note of that.

I'm just nervous as all hell that this could go south because there's no guarantee that she'll get the visa. We've worked SO incredibly hard (I could write an entire guide on finding J-1 positions at this point) the last 15 months to get to this point and are *this* close to closing the gap. Please help calm my anxiety and fears

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Filed: EB-3 Visa Country: Germany
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First and foremost she must answer all of the questions honestly. Second you almost admit in your post that you are us a J1 in order for her to come to the US ie circumventing the process for family based reunification so the officer would be right to be suspicious of your case.

 

How old is your GF? Is she of a usual age for someone to be doing a trainee program?  Also her parents in Stuttgart, her apartment, and her furniture are all poor evidence of strong ties. 

 

 

 

55 minutes ago, jvette said:

The CBP officer could consider her at risk for overstaying the visa if he/she thinks we secretly plan to get married while she's here for the Trainee Program.

Isnt this exactly what you plan on doing?

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Seems like a lot of work just to trick getting a J1.   She has ESTA so she could visit a few more times and then you can get the appropriate visa.   With a J1 or even ESTA, immigrant intent has to be overcome.  Having a flat and furniture isn't enough to make someone want to return.


March 2, 2018  Married In Hong Kong

April 30, 2018  Mary moves from the Philippines to Mexico, Husband has MX Permanent Residency

June 13, 2018 Mary receives Mexican Residency Card

June 15, 2018  I-130 DCF Appointment in Juarez  -  June 18, 2018  Approval E-Mail

August 2, 2018 Case Complete At Consulate

September 25, 2018 Interview in CDJ and Approved!

October 7, 2018 In the USA

October 27, 2018 Green Card received 

October 29, 2018 Applied for Social Security Card - November 5, 2018 Social Security Card received

November 6th, 2018 State ID Card Received, Applied for Global Entry - Feb 8,2019 Approved.

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19 minutes ago, designguy said:

First and foremost she must answer all of the questions honestly. Second you almost admit in your post that you are us a J1 in order for her to come to the US ie circumventing the process for family based reunification so the officer would be right to be suspicious of your case.

 

How old is your GF? Is she of a usual age for someone to be doing a trainee program?  Also her parents in Stuttgart, her apartment, and her furniture are all poor evidence of strong ties. 

 

 

 

Isnt this exactly what you plan on doing?

 

She's doing the J-1 because it's a great opportunity for her to advance her skillset AND it gets us living in the same place together and not having to continue doing long distance. She's 26 which is a pretty typical age for someone to be doing a Trainee Program. 

 

And nope, we have ZERO plans to secretly get married. We've never spent more than three weeks together and have no idea what life is going to be like living together vs doing long distance. 

What's normally considered strong ties to one's home country? I know that a flat and furniture aren't significant but I would think family would be worth something. I can't imagine that every single person coming to do a trainee program has an employer willing to put their job on hold for a year (I could see that as being sufficient ties to your home country), and if that's not the case - what other legitimate ties exist in the eyes of US immigration? 

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16 minutes ago, Paul & Mary said:

Seems like a lot of work just to trick getting a J1.   She has ESTA so she could visit a few more times and then you can get the appropriate visa.   With a J1 or even ESTA, immigrant intent has to be overcome.  Having a flat and furniture isn't enough to make someone want to return.

I totally understand your point on the flat and furniture. She could totally visit a few more times but I don't think either of us are ready to make the decision to get married without ever having lived together before. In my opinion, that would be pretty crazy. So with that said, a trainee program seems like a great way for her to gain valuable career experience AND be able to live together while we figure out what the future potentially does or doesn't hold for us. 

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If she just wanted to trick the system she could have stayed and married you on one of her vwp visits, not go through all this. I personally think it’s a great solution to spending time together without being rushed into a fiancé or spouse visa. Of course she has to be honest - “yes my boyfriend is there, but we haven’t decided yet if this is a permanent relationship “ sounds accurate from what you’ve related. Also, it’s a real position with a formal employer, some j1s are very casual/informal  - I think that counts in your favor too. Good luck. 

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2 minutes ago, jvette said:

 

She's doing the J-1 because it's a great opportunity for her to advance her skillset AND it gets us living in the same place together and not having to continue doing long distance. She's 26 which is a pretty typical age for someone to be doing a Trainee Program. 

 

And nope, we have ZERO plans to secretly get married. We've never spent more than three weeks together and have no idea what life is going to be like living together vs doing long distance. 

What's normally considered strong ties to one's home country? I know that a flat and furniture aren't significant but I would think family would be worth something. I can't imagine that every single person coming to do a trainee program has an employer willing to put their job on hold for a year (I could see that as being sufficient ties to your home country), and if that's not the case - what other legitimate ties exist in the eyes of US immigration? 

Ties that a CO is typically looking for is owning property or a business, a good paying job, a husband and kids.  Not things that can be abandoned.   The issue that the CO might see is that she has a boyfriend in the US and it would be easy for her to marry and adjust.   If she didn't do a training program near you I think her case is stronger.


March 2, 2018  Married In Hong Kong

April 30, 2018  Mary moves from the Philippines to Mexico, Husband has MX Permanent Residency

June 13, 2018 Mary receives Mexican Residency Card

June 15, 2018  I-130 DCF Appointment in Juarez  -  June 18, 2018  Approval E-Mail

August 2, 2018 Case Complete At Consulate

September 25, 2018 Interview in CDJ and Approved!

October 7, 2018 In the USA

October 27, 2018 Green Card received 

October 29, 2018 Applied for Social Security Card - November 5, 2018 Social Security Card received

November 6th, 2018 State ID Card Received, Applied for Global Entry - Feb 8,2019 Approved.

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And it is OK to marry in the US on a J1 and then file for the correct VISA and her return back to Germany.


March 2, 2018  Married In Hong Kong

April 30, 2018  Mary moves from the Philippines to Mexico, Husband has MX Permanent Residency

June 13, 2018 Mary receives Mexican Residency Card

June 15, 2018  I-130 DCF Appointment in Juarez  -  June 18, 2018  Approval E-Mail

August 2, 2018 Case Complete At Consulate

September 25, 2018 Interview in CDJ and Approved!

October 7, 2018 In the USA

October 27, 2018 Green Card received 

October 29, 2018 Applied for Social Security Card - November 5, 2018 Social Security Card received

November 6th, 2018 State ID Card Received, Applied for Global Entry - Feb 8,2019 Approved.

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