Close this search box.

What is the “Dual Intent” Doctrine?

What is the Dual Intent Doctrine


If you are a foreign national seeking entry into the United States, you may have heard about the concept of “dual intent.”

But what exactly is dual intent, and how does it apply to U.S. immigration law?

In general, dual intent refers to the ability of certain visa holders to have both nonimmigrant and immigrant goals simultaneously. This means that they can enter the United States temporarily (as a nonimmigrant) while also seeking lawful permanent resident status (as an immigrant) at a later date.

The concept of dual intent is essential for specific visa categories, such as H-1B visas for specialty workers, frequently used by professionals in science, technology, engineering, and math. These visa holders often want to pursue a long-term career in the United States but may want to wait to commit to permanent residency. With dual intent, they can maintain their nonimmigrant status while pursuing a green card.

However, not all visa categories allow for dual intent. Visitors to the United States on B-1/B-2 tourist visas or through the Visa Waiver Program, for example, are generally not allowed to have immigrant intent. As a result, if a consular or border official believes that a visitor is planning to immigrate, they may be denied entry or have their visa revoked.

It is worth noting that dual intent does not guarantee a foreign national entry to the United States or the approval of a visa application. Consular and border officials have broad discretion to make determinations based on various factors, including the applicant’s background, the purpose of travel, and ties to their home country.


In general, the following visa categories allow for dual intent:

H-1B visas: For specialty workers and their spouses and minor children with H-4 visas.

K visas: For fiancées or foreign spouses of U.S. citizens and their children.

L visas: For corporate transferees and their spouses and children.

V visas: For spouses and minor children of lawful permanent residents.

O visas: For extraordinary ability workers and their spouses and little children.

P visas: For athletes, artists, entertainers, and their spouses and children.

E visas: For treaty traders, investors, and their spouses and minor children.


In some cases, individuals who are married to U.S. citizens may be able to enter the United States on tourist visas or through the Visa Waiver Program, even though these categories do not generally allow for dual intent.

However, they must demonstrate to consular or border officials that their trip is temporary and that they have no intention of immigrating at that time.

In summary, dual intent allows certain visa holders to maintain nonimmigrant and immigrant intent simultaneously.

This is an essential concept in U.S. immigration law, particularly for professionals seeking long-term career opportunities in the United States. Not all visa categories allow for dual intent, and applicants must still meet the requirements of their chosen visa category and satisfy consular or border officials that they are eligible for entry.

Recent posts
Founder & CEO
Lorraine D'Alessio
Lorraine D'Alessio

CEO and Founder of D’Alessio Law Group, Lorraine D’Alessio was named the 2017 Leader in Law by the Los Angeles Business Journal and is the recipient of the 2018 Enterprising Woman Award.

Skip to content