Abigail asks, “I got declined for a tourist visa. What are my chances of a spousal visa?” I would say that doesn’t affect your spousal visa at all because a lot of people get denied for tourist visas, especially if they have a spouse in the US.
It’s a very common question and it’s very understandable if somebody gets denied a tourist visa and they think, “Oh, no. Is there something in my background or something they don’t like about me? Now I may not even get a spousal visa either.” But it’s actually two very different criteria they’re looking at.
For a tourist visa, they want you to convince them that there is no way you’re going to stay in the United States in an overstay condition and that you’re just going to visit, take some photographs, come back to your country and be a tourist. They want to see significant ties to your country. A great job; a business you own; or for example, you’ve got three kids and they’re not coming with you. They want to see compelling reasons you’re going to return to your country.
When you go to get a spousal visa, it’s exactly opposite. You’re stating right up front, “I’m coming permanently to live in the United States.” Now, if they’ve told you they denied you for the tourist visa due to some criminal background or a criminal watch list then you may have an issue. But that’s usually not the case. It’s almost always they just think that you are at risk for overstaying. A large portion of the undocumented immigrants in the United States are overstays. They didn’t all come running across the border like the media might have you to believe. A significant number of them came here legally on something like a tourist visa, student visa, and then they never left.