Traveling internationally can be a liberating experience for anyone. You travel to an unknown place, sightsee beautiful landmarks, and next thing you know you’ve met someone your head over heels for. Believe it or not, this happens more often than you’d think. Just watch an episode of 90-day fiancé.
So what happens if you’re from a foreign country and want to marry a US citizen during your time in the U.S.? Is it possible on a tourist visa? Here’s what you need to know.
The 30/60 Day Rule
Unfortunately, there are many visa fraud cases from false marriages and pre-planned marriage arrangements before entering the US on a tourist visa. These situations typically happen so foreigners can gain illegal immigration benefits. Therefore, the 30/60 day rule was put in place to help prevent fraudulent occurrences.
The rule states that a person cannot file for a change in their status while on a tourist visa within a certain time frame or it raises a red flag to the government of their motives when they entered the U.S. If a person applies to change their status within 60 days of their current visa status, it will be viewed as a pre-intended arrangement. Applying for a visa adjustment within 30 days will put a person under automatic scrutiny and visa fraud will be assumed by the U.S. government. Applying within 60 days will raise questions also and it will likely be difficult trying to prove good intent unless some unexpected and unplanned event takes place – like pregnancy or sickness.
If more than 60 days go by before a change in circumstance takes place and there is a need in visa status change, then it won’t be automatically assumed that the marriage was a pre-planned arrangement. Therefore, even if proposal to marry came quickly after the international travels arrival to the U.S., the marriage should be held off and not happen too quickly from the time the international traveler arrived in the United States
The international traveler can be in the US on either a B1, B2, or a visa waiver program status but the 30/60 day rule applies the same.
In a situation where the plan of the couple for the international traveler to go back to home country after getting married, then the time frame of when the two get married is not an issue as there is no need to do a status change and the process for applying for the green card can go through the consulate, so no presumed visa fraud exists. Most likely proof will have to be provided to confirm that the intent was to return to the home country after tying the knot and go through the proper process of applying for the marriage visa through the consulate.
Proving a Good Faith Marriage
It is necessary to prove that your marriage happened in good faith and not as an arrangement for immigration benefits only with a possible compensation to the US citizen. There will need to be proof that the individual who traveled to the US had the intention to visit the country and return home, but they ended up spending time with someone that led to commitment and marriage that required their full time relocation to the U.S. immediately.
Sufficient documents will have to be provided to prove the initial intention of returning home. Possibly documents such as current leases from the home country, recent payslips from an employer abroad, and more can be provided to show ties and obligations back in the country a traveler is from.
The process will include being interviewed at the USCIS field office. This is to get a first-hand view of the good intentions of the tourist while visiting the U.S. Questions will be asked in regards to the relationship, health, criminal backgrounds, and more. It would be best to prepare prior to attending the interview because if it doesn’t go well, it could affect the chance of getting approval for the visa change.
Adjustment of Status
The adjustment of status is what will need to be filed after an international traveler is married to a U.S. citizen while in the US on a tourist visa. Applying the 30/60 day rule and proving good faith is necessary.
Things one should never do under a pending adjustment of status:
- Apply for advance parole (formal approval to leave the country)
- Lie to the consular or border protection officers
- Leave the country and attempt to re-enter
- Not follow any of the restrictions for tourist visa holders
- Engage in any criminal activity
- Get divorced
- Marry while still legally married to anyone else anywhere in the world
Any possible violations during the adjustment application process will cause the filed application to be considered abandoned or forfeited. The visa holder will find themselves on the first plane back home to their residing country if the rules are not followed.
Those who have attempted to leave the US and come back during the application process are denied re-entry upon their return or even if allowed in – denied at the adjustment of status interview for abandoning their application. The application process could take a long time, but it is not authorized for the applicant to leave the US during that time. Many times, it’s best to seek professional help during the application process.
How Immigration Lawyers Can Help
It would be wise to seek legal counsel if planning to marry a US citizen while on a tourist visa in the U.S. The process could be much smoother and increase the likeliness of getting approval on the adjustment of status.
Save Time During the Application Process
Hiring immigration attorneys could save an average of 4 to 18 weeks in processing time. Any inquires could be consulted with them. The experience they have can give an understanding of what’s to be expected during the approval process.
Immigration lawyers can help improve the process by preventing you from making grave mistakes that could negatively affect the case or any future immigration benefits in the U.S. They can make sure the application is filled out correctly and informing applicants of any necessary paperwork beforehand.
Since interviews are always a step in the application process, lawyers can help applicants prepare for this as well. They can inform you of the most common questions that will be asked during the interview based on their experience. Some will even set aside time to do some mock interviews with applicants to give them a better perspective of what to look forward to in the interview and will attend interview with you.
Not Simple, But Not Impossible
It is possible to marry a United States citizen while visiting America on a tourist visa, but it won’t be the simplest process. Be sure to abide by all rules and restrictions, prove good faith to the officer, and hire professional help to make the application process much easier.
You cannot help who you love and never know what day you’ll meet your potential soulmate. Even if they are on the other side of the world, nothing is impossible.