{3:20 minutes to read} When an individual has entered the US on a non-immigrant visa, and during their stay applies for another visaeither another non-immigrant or an immigrant visa through family sponsorshipUS customs, border and immigration authorities look back to the date of entry for potential “preconceived intent.”

Preconceived intent is inferred by US officials in cases where a foreign national enters the United States on a non-immigrant visa with the intent of remaining in the US for purposes other than the ones allowed under their current visa. Their goal is to secure a “change of status” or an “adjustment of status.” This is not allowed under US immigration law.

A visa which allows a person to enter the US as a non-immigrant, such as a tourist visa, is for temporary purposes. If a person enters the US as a tourist, they can only come in for the purposes of tourism. If a person enters the US to study, they can only come in for the purposes of studying. Preconceived intent would violate the terms of use of their original visa.

Preconceived intent may be conveyed through an interview or documents presented at the point of entry. If the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) infers or the individual specifically says that his or her original intent was to use their temporary visa to gain entry and then change or adjust status, those corresponding future petitions can be denied.

When people plan the steps they are going to take, they need to make sure they are very careful about not communicating or inferring preconceived intent. This can be complicated, because if that happens, the case is not only denied, but the person’s status can also be terminated and they may have to leave the US. This can create further problems in the future, including possible legal inadmissibility.

The take-away is that any steps a person takes to adjust their status should be taken well after having arrived in the US, or they run the risk of being accused of preconceived intent—and having their petition denied.

If you are looking for assistance to assure that you don’t raise the red flag of preconceived intent, please contact Steve Maggi at smaggi@smalawyers.com.

Steve Maggi, Esq.Steve Maggi, Esq.
SMA Law Firm
U.S. Immigration & Consular Law