What options does my Argentine boyfriend have to move back with me and find work in the United States?
December 1, 2010 3:52 PM   Subscribe

What options does my Argentine boyfriend have to move back with me and find work in the United States?

So, I'm living in Argentina and I plan to move back to the US in the next year or two. Things are going well with my boyfriend so we're thinking ahead to what our options would be if we wanted to stay together.

He's Argentine and makes a living teaching jiu jitsu, a form of martial arts. He's taught it for more than 8 years and earned his black belt 2 or 3 years ago. He's the head coach at a growing fight club in Buenos Aires and he's getting back into competing after a few years off. He puts his heart and soul into the sport, for himself as well as for his students, and he's truly one of the best teachers and competitors in the region.

Aside from getting married, what options are there that would allow him to live and work in the United States (legally ;) so that he can experience life there before we make it permanent? Are there "adult study abroad" or "sports study abroad" opportunities / visas / grants that would allow him to come to the US in order to compete or train jiu-jitsu (or another martial art)? Are we crazy to try to find a martial arts club that's willing to hire a foreigner and go through the process of sponsoring his visa? (Would the government even allow that?) Etc...

We're willing to be creative, so any ideas you have, let 'em rip. The basic point is just to get him there for more than a "vacation", so we can try the relationship there before we do the whole marriage thing! (Isn't that the practical thing to do? I wish our government saw it that way.)

Just a couple relevant details: Neither of us has an income that would allow him to go months without working and just stay in the US on vacation, even if he was lucky enough to get a tourist visa approved by the US government, which is questionable. Also, he does not have a college education.

Thanks in advance for any tips you can give :)
posted by inatizzy to Work & Money (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
His basic options are a tourist visa or a fiance/spouse visa if you want him to get here any time soon. There are options for work visas but they take much longer. Student visas are another option. There are other types of visas but for very specific circumstances (refugee, humanitarian, extraordinary ability, etc). You can check out the visa types/requirements at www.uscis.gov on the front page.
p.s. The fiance visa allows him 90 days to get married to you once he gets here, however you would have to have the income to be able to sponsor him.
posted by MsKim at 4:19 PM on December 1, 2010

Get married with a prenuptial agreement... it's just a piece of paper, the importance you place on it is purely psychological. And it's WAYYYYYYY easier than anything else.
posted by wooh at 4:19 PM on December 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

Community colleges sponsor tons of student visas, and are still relatively cheap even if he has to pay out-of-state tuition (and he doesn't need a full course load). Legally, he will be allowed to work 20 hours a week on campus, but I don't think that people will hesitate to take private martial arts lessons from him. Can he rent space at an established gym without being considered an employee (i.e. no one asking for his documents and/or being liable for employing him)?
posted by halogen at 4:47 PM on December 1, 2010

halogen - I think he would need to be very careful about making money in a systematic way that looks anything like employment, even if there is not a typical formal employment situation and he's freelancing for himself. That is the sort of thing that can get you sent home mighty fast if you're caught.
posted by slow graffiti at 5:17 PM on December 1, 2010

halogen - if he's here on a student visa, he must be enrolled full time (usually 12 credit hours/semester). I strongly do NOT recommend trying to rent out a place for private lessons, not only because of visa regulations but also for liability issues. That's just a law suit waiting to happen.

If you were to go the marriage route, I recommend deleting this question before you file anything with ICE.
posted by Neekee at 6:25 PM on December 1, 2010

Best answer: If you're not getting marries he's coming as a non immigrant.

As a non-immigrant, he can come

- As a student, for which he would have to study full time and be ble to afford to live without working, except for a rare opportunity inside campus with low wages

- As a tourist, for which he would have to get a tourist visa, which means convincing the embassy he has a stable life in argentina (single young people usually have trouble with this, not to mention the money and assets)

- As a non-immigrant worker, with a J1 or a H2B visa (temporary, non specialized jobs, he could find them online through agencies that charge a fee to do all the paperwork. I know people who have been here renewing their H2Bs for a couple of years).

the only non marrying, immigrant path would be to get an H1B visa for specialized work. There's a maximum of H1b visas to be given per year, and the prospective employer has to prove there aren't any americans willing and able to fill the position, and also has to be willing to do tonnes of paperwork. Not to mention that you'd still have to wait for all the people in front of you to get their H1B visa, as the waiting time is quite long for them too.

Honestly, consider getting married. It's one of the least painful ways of being together and him being able to provide for himself. I'm from Peru, and was lucky enough to have a tourist visa since I was a child, so I just sort of renewed it. Visited boyfriend for long intervals of time during school breaks etc. but it was frustrating not to be able to work or do anything productive. You say you'll be moving back in one or two years. I say give it time, and see if you are ready to get married then, or not. If you are, you can simply get a fiance visa, and that's that. If you;re not, you can have a long distance relationship and try to visit eachother (tourist visa for him).

As off Neekee's suggestion, I don't see why that's necessary. You have said you have a genuine relationship, and you have all the right in the world not to be ready to get married. You are also free to decide to get married tomorrow or in two years. You should be careful not to inquire about illegal ways for him to move into the country, though (like coming here on a tourist/student visa and getting paid under the table). As long as you don't show an interest on braking the law, it's perfectly OK to ask.
posted by Tarumba at 8:09 AM on December 2, 2010

Best answer: also, memail me if you have more questions. I work with an immigration councelor.
posted by Tarumba at 8:21 AM on December 2, 2010

Best answer: * and as for neekee's suggestion, you don't file petitions with ICE. You file them with USCIS.

You could also go to visajourney.com and open an account there. People are extremely knowledgable and will be happy to give you pointers if you ask your question to the forum. There's even an Argentine community there.
posted by Tarumba at 8:26 AM on December 2, 2010

Regardless of whether she would need to file it with ICE or USCIS, my suggestion was that if she were to marry him, to take down anything that implies "I don't want to be married to him, I just want to help him immigrate to the US."

Since so many people have suggested you do the opposite: Don't marry him unless you want to be married to him. Don't do it for immigration purposes. It could really put an odd strain on your relationship, not to mention the fact that you could be married to someone that you don't want to be married to.
posted by Neekee at 11:39 AM on December 2, 2010

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