I'm a Spanish citizen currently staying as a tourist in Dominican Republic. Before I get into my question, let me list my recent moves, as they are relevant to the case:
Lived in California for 5 years on a Student Visa.
Visa ended so went to Spain for 3 months.
Flew back to the US on the Visa Waiver Program for 3 months.
VWP ended so been in the Dominican Republic for 3 months.
Now, during my student stay in the US I made a film, which I am now finishing. I need to get back to California so I can complete work on the film, submit to festivals, have meetings, etc. Also want to see my friends and spend time there with my filmmaking peers. I guess I can go back on the VWP again, but I would like to get 6 months to have time to complete all these things. I will not be working, I have money saved up.
That said, I'm thinking of applying for the B1 or B2 6-month Visa here, at the US Embassy in the Dominican Republic, but I am afraid this may be useless... Here are my concerns:
B1 or B2? Should I explain my situation with the film to justify the need for 6 months or would it make them suspicious that I would want to stay in the US indefinitely? Maybe I should omit the B1 (business) and go for the B2 (tourist); telling them that I want to travel along the West Coast, which I didn't get a chance to while I was studying and didn't have money.
I assume the fact that I am a Spanish citizen applying in the Dominican Republic will raise some flags. Specially since I haven't been to Spain in between my trips US-DR-US. Am I correct?
If I decide to pass on the B1/B2, will I have trouble with a new Visa Waiver trip? I have been out of the US for 3 months, and I never overstayed my trip, but Dominican Republic is considered adjacent territory and doesn't reset the 90-days within the VWP; so they may suspect I just went to an adjacent territory for a couple of months of ''vacation'' and now want to return to the US to continue ''living'' there.
I know this is a rather complex question, so thanks a lot in advance for taking the time to read and hopefully respond. Any ideas will be very helpful.
I would go for the B2 tourist visa. I agree that you applying for a B1 visa definitely would raise questions. Officially you have to apply for a new visa because as you point out, your VWP doesn't reset by going to the Dominican Republic.
You might consider going someplace that would reset the VWP--for example to South America (Brazil, Venezuela, Peru, Columbia) and then returning to the US. Also you could apply at the US Embassy there for a B2, explaining how you want to visit the West Coast (as you said), and then finish your film while here. They would have no basis to refuse your application because (see below)
The things that work in your favor are many:
1) you are from Spain, a country that is very friendly with the US
2) you never overstayed your previous visas (VWP in particular)
3) you spent the required period outside the US prior to reapplying for a new visa
4) you have no criminal record in the US
5) I presume you successfully obtained your college degree in the US
Considering these 5 things, they should allow you to visit again. You seem like the kind of tourist the US should love.
Best of luck, and let us know how it goes with whatever you decide to do.
Thanks a lot for your reply!
Just wanted to wrap it up and post the final outcome, hoping that this will help future travelers in a similar situation.
I went for the Tourist Visa. I filled out the application online and, of course, was absolutely honest about every single question, including my last 87-day stay and my trip to Dominican Republic.
I went for the interview with a folder full of documents (Financial support letters, Bank letters to prove good balance, Spanish work contract, invitation letters from my host in US and from my filmmaking partner, long etc.). My whole approach was just telling the truth about me needing 6 months to both spend time there and finish my film and send it to festivals and other contacts. The interview lasted less than 5 minutes and the interviewer didn't ask to see a single document to prove my story. She asked me my marital status, who was paying for my trip, why I needed to go and what's my father's occupation, but again, she just believed me without checking any documents.
Finally, I was awarded a 10 year B1/B2 Tourist Visa, with a 6-month maximum stay per trip. My passport was mailed to me (with the new Visa) within two business days. Overall, very satisfied with the experience!
Wow! Great to hear a success story every now and then.
Thanks for the follow-up and good luck with your film.
Yes, a great result. Just goes to show that the state department can be reasonable given the right circumstances.
Congratulations to you, ivalero. Maybe I'll run into you here on the West Coast while you are finishing up your film.