Dual Intent – What Does It Mean In The Immigration Context?

Many of our clients ask us why certain nonimmigrant visa categories allow individuals to enter the United States and apply for permanent residency while other nonimmigrant categories do not. The answer is “dual intent.” So what exactly is dual intent? The doctrine of dual intent states that even though a nonimmigrant must honestly demonstrate that he or she has the intent to remain in the United States to remain temporarily, he or she may have both a short term intent to leave and a long term intent to remain permanently.

Most nonimmigrant visa categories require the individual that is obtaining a nonimmigrant visa to truly have an intent not to remain in the United States. Therefore, since most nonimmigrant categories are not governed by the doctrine of dual intent, individuals entering the United States in those categories can not apply to change their status from a nonimmigrant to that of a permanent resident while in the United States. However, in the case of E, H-1, L-1, O, and P visas, the United States Citizenship & Immigration Service (USCIS), recognizes the doctrine of dual intent. Consequently, individuals who enter or are in the United States in E-1, E-2, E-3, H-1, H-4, L-1, O-1, 0-2, P-1, P-2, or P-3 status, may apply to adjust their status to that of a permanent resident.

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