Want to know how NOT to get a US work visa? Then watch The Proposal, a new rom-com starring Sandra Bullock, just out in cinemas worldwide.
Bullock plays Margaret Tate, a publishing exec working in New York. Like many foreign workers in the US, she is facing deportation back to Canada once her US work visa expires.
To extend her visa and keep her job, she orders her young, cute secretary Andrew (Ryan Reynolds) to marry her. A long-term victim of Margaret’s bullying, he agrees on the condition of being promoted to editor.
Tate submits her deceptive visa application with the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) but cracks soon appear in her plan.
Desperate to make a convincing case, Margaret organises a weekend in Alaska with Andrew’s family. Unexpectedly – and in true rom-com cliché fashion - the family encourage them to wed immediately.
But the wholesome Alaskan atmosphere and her genuine burgeoning love for Andrew inspire remorse in the hard-nosed executive. Margaret breaks into an emotional confession during the wedding ceremony, which is attended by their US immigration case worker.
Her application is naturally refused and she is given 24 hours to leave the country.
Margaret made three key mistakes during the US visa application process:
1. She panicked. Even when facing an expiring visa, it’s critical to stay calm. Familiarity with all options for staying in or returning to the US legally can help diffuse a stressful situation.
2. She was unrealistic. Specific requirements must be met for each type of US visa. Strategically planning how to tick all the boxes is part of the process for many applicants. A fake marriage shouldn’t ever be considered a legitimate strategy.
3. She allowed emotion to rule her outcome. Revealing too many personal details can work against the applicant. A smarter approach is to keep the process impersonal by providing only requested information.
Hundreds of thousands of foreigners apply for US visas every year to live, work, play professional sports, start businesses, and marry US citizens. While obtaining a visa can be a stressful ordeal, as the characters in The Proposal show, enlisting the help of a US visa consultant can smooth the process.