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Tips for getting married with a tourist visa in the United States

Tips for getting married with a tourist visa in the United States

Tips for getting married with a tourist visa in the United States

Getting married in the United States on a tourist visa is possible, but it’s important to follow the proper legal procedures. Here are some tips for individuals considering getting married on a tourist visa in the United States:

  1. Understand the Limitations of a Tourist Visa:
    • A tourist visa (B-2 visa) is intended for temporary visits, and the primary purpose should be tourism or visiting friends and family. Using it to enter the U.S. solely for the purpose of getting married and immigrating may be considered visa fraud.
  2. Obtain the Correct Visa:
    • If the intention is to marry and immigrate to the U.S., it’s often more appropriate to apply for a fiance(e) visa (K-1 visa) or a spousal visa. These visas are specifically designed for individuals planning to marry U.S. citizens and reside in the country.
  3. Plan Ahead:
    • It’s essential to plan the wedding well in advance to ensure all necessary documentation is in order. Rushing the process may lead to complications.
  4. Legal Requirements for Marriage:
    • Research and understand the legal requirements for marriage in the specific state where you plan to get married. Each state has its own rules and regulations.
  5. Obtain a Marriage License:
    • Visit the local county clerk’s office in the area where you plan to marry to obtain a marriage license. Both partners typically need to be present and provide identification.
  6. Marriage Ceremony:
    • Conduct the marriage ceremony within the timeframe specified by the marriage license. Some states may have waiting periods.
  7. Consider Consulting an Immigration Attorney:
    • It’s advisable to consult with an immigration attorney to understand the legal implications and potential challenges associated with getting married on a tourist visa.
  8. Be Honest during Immigration Processes:
    • If you decide to pursue immigration after marriage, be honest and transparent during the immigration processes. Failure to disclose relevant information may result in visa denials and other legal consequences.
  9. Adjustment of Status:
    • If the intention is to remain in the U.S. after marriage, the foreign spouse may need to apply for adjustment of status (green card) to become a legal permanent resident.
  10. Keep Documentation:
    • Keep thorough documentation of the marriage, including the marriage certificate, photos, and any other relevant records. This documentation may be required for future immigration processes.
  11. Be Aware of Potential Delays:
    • Immigration processes can be time-consuming. Be prepared for potential delays and plan accordingly.

It’s crucial to note that immigration laws are complex and subject to change. Consulting with an immigration attorney is highly recommended to ensure that all legal requirements are met and to navigate the immigration process successfully.

If you are in the United States as a tourist and considering getting married and wondering if you can do it, the answer is yes, it is possible to get married on a tourist visa in the United States.

It is quite another thing to be able to stay legally in the country and get a residence card by marriage. If this is what is intended, it is highly recommended to read this article carefully and avoid mistakes that can cost dearly.

This article explains the problems for foreigners who enter the United States on a tourist visa and marry an American citizen. Likewise, reference is made to legal options to avoid problems.

Who are tourists from the migratory point of view?

This question may seem silly, but it is not. Tourists are those who entered with that visa, but also Spaniards and Chileans who travel to the United States as tourists and without a visa because they are part of the group of countries for which the Visa Waiver Program applies.

In these Spanish and Chilean cases, in most cases, they only have an electronic authorization known as ESTA that allows them to be in the country for a maximum of 90 days, which can never extend. 

Both visa and ESTA-only tourists can get married in the United States. 

Another thing is that marriage, solely by itself, produces migratory effects.

Civil requirements to marry and that the marriage has migratory effects.

You must meet the state’s requirements or, if applicable, the county or municipality in which the marriage is celebrated. 

It should note that same-sex marriage is legal in all the states of the United States and the territories that make up the Commonwealth – such as Puerto Rico. On the other hand, neither is bigamy allowed, that is, being married to more than one person simultaneously.

Immigration issues and precautions to be taken into account

In theory, when a foreign national in the United States as a tourist and a US citizen marry, the foreign spouse should leave the country before their authorization to stay legally expires.

Then, if they so wish, the citizen would request their spouse through a consular procedure and while waiting outside the United States for the time of the interview at the consulate, and the immigrant visa is obtained.

But the truth is that in practice, in many cases, this does not happen, and the foreign spouse decides to stay in the United States while the papers are processed. If you want to avoid severe immigration problems, it is advisable to take into account the following information:

First: avoid problems related to the intention, or what in English is known as “intent.” 

When a person who enters the United States as a tourist must necessarily have that intention: to travel through the country and before the visa or the period of legal stay expires, they must return to their country. And he should never enter the country to get married because if that is the intention, the CBP officer will deny entry to the country.

Something very different and that can admit is that two people decide in an instant to marry. In other words, when the foreigner arrived in the USA, he did not have that idea, but love is sometimes impulsive, and you can change your mind. But how to avoid problems and prove that the intention to marry did not exist before entering the country?

Until recently, this was guaranteed by following the 30/60 rule, which is a rule of the State Department that the USCIS used to apply in cases of marriages between foreigners and American citizens, and that should be understood as follows:

When an adjustment of status by marriage was requested within 30 days of the foreigner’s arrival, it was presumed that they were acting in bad faith. In other words, it was always his intention to marry, and therefore the adjustment of the status petition should not be granted.

When applying between the 31st and 60th, there was a strong suspicion that there may have been an intention to marry from the beginning. In such cases, a comprehensive examination of the marriage and its purposes was expected.

Tips for getting married with a tourist visa in the United States

However, the number of days has recently changed under the Trump Administration. According to a statement from the State Department, with rare exceptions, marriages to request an adjustment of status celebrated within 90 days of entering the United States will be considered a fraud of law.

And the consequence of this is that the adjustment of status will not be approved, the visa will not be renewed, which can be canceled, no change of visa will approve and, if the foreigner remains in the United States, he becomes eligible for deportation.

It is a significant and severe change. It is essential to understand that it does not matter that family and friends did not have problems with this matter in the past. The rules have changed and what matters is what is applied.

Second: be clear about the residence process by marriage and all the requirements. The process costs two parts. On the one hand, the petition per se and the adjustment of status. But before starting, make sure that fundamental requirements are met, such as the minimum income to sponsor.

Third: it is essential to bear in mind that during this process, the stay of the foreign spouse will probably be for several months not covered from the migratory point of view by a visa or by the ESTA. That is why you should not leave the United States.

It is advisable to stay within the country until you receive the resident card or a permit known as advance parole.

If you leave before or without that authorization, you risk being denied entry at the US border when you want to return. It is even advisable to consult with a lawyer if leaving even with the advance parole is convenient.

Fourth: be very clear that in this article, we always talk about marriage with an American citizen and never about the case of a couple made up of a foreign tourist and a permanent resident.

And it is that these cases are very different if the tourist is left without the legal protection of the visa or the ESTA because he remains in the country longer than allowed. He will not be able to adjust his status and, therefore, will not be able to obtain residency within the United States. It is a big difference from the migratory point of view.

Fifth: Remember that we always talk about tourists who entered with a visa or ESTA. Nothing that this article says applies to migrants who arrived in the United States without going through immigration control, those who entered illegally through the border. These people can never adjust their status by marriage.

Sixth: do not forget that the problems can begin with immigration control. The Immigration officer at the United States border (port, airport, or land border) may prohibit the entry of a foreigner with a tourist visa when he suspects that he intends to come to the country to get married.

Tips for getting married with a tourist visa in the United States

The Immigration officer always has a short conversation with the person processing (and it is recommended not to lie) and can conclude that they are coming to get married. In addition, they can open the luggage and discover suspicious things such as the wedding dress, gifts, many suitcases for a theoretical trip of only a couple of weeks, etc.

In these cases, immigration has the right to prohibit the foreigner’s entry, no matter how many visas they have. And it is essential to understand that to obtain the approval of a non-immigrant visa, such as a tourist visa. Its renewal or the guarantee of being admitted when arriving at immigration control in the United States must be, at all times, visa eligible and admissible to enter the USA.

These are 20 causes that make a person ineligible, and these are 22 that make them inadmissible.

What happens if immigration does not approve the adjustment of status by marriage?

It is scarce that the Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) denies the approval of the I-130, that is, the initial part of the process where the only thing that is confirmed is that the one requesting is a citizen and is legally married to the requested person. Nothing more.

The problem arises in the adjustment of status. The reasons can be very varied. For example, it is considered that they entered the United States to get married. It can be viewed as a law fraud since it implied a lie when the tourist visa was applied or when the ESTA was completed.

Another problem is when the marriage is considered false, and its sole purpose is for the foreign spouse to obtain the papers. It can lead to legal penalties and the green card not being approved.

It should note that denial of an adjustment of status by USCIS is currently a priority for deportation.

Finally, the residence card can be denied for any of these more than 40 reasons that apply to all cases of residence applications.

Delays in processing paperwork

Although green card petitions for marriage to a citizen are among the fastest, the truth is that they can take several months. It is possible to learn how to verify it.

Immigration options to ask for the boyfriend or spouse.

First, if the couple is not married, the American can apply for a fiancé or fiancée visa when he or she is not yet in the United States, known as a K-1. With this visa, fiancés and their children can enter the country.

In cases in which a citizen is married to a foreigner, and he is outside the United States, he can request it through an I-130 and then a consular procedure or, in particular cases, it may be worth applying for a K-3 visa. Still, it is advisable to consult with an immigration attorney.

Finally, if the citizen lives outside the United States and is married to a foreigner and decides to move to the USA, keep in mind that problems may arise when proving income. Get advice before starting the procedures.

Relevant information to avoid problems

To avoid problems, it is essential to be informed. This tourist visa test contains vital information on how to obtain it and keep it—this other about the authorization known as ESTA for citizens of countries that can travel without a visa.

Also, this on the residence card allows for having clear fundamental points to obtain it and keep it.

Finally, keep in mind that the information in this article does not apply to foreigners who enter the United States illegally since they would not be able to adjust their status by marrying a citizen.

And in the case of marriage with a permanent resident, it is always an essential requirement that you be legally in the country to adjust your status. It will not be possible if you entered illegally or with a visa and stayed longer than allowed.

Tips for getting married with a tourist visa in the United States

This article is informative. It does not constitute legal advice for any particular case. 

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