How to Shift from Tourist Visa to the Green Card?
Having a long-distance relationship is challenging and especially hard in unpredictable global circumstances, as it was during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2020, borders were closed, and leaving the country for many people was impossible, which was more devastating if you couldn’t visit your loved ones.
If your loved one is a U.S. citizen or a U.S. lawful permanent resident, you are probably looking for the options to be together after you get married.
Obtaining immigrant visas can take time, so if you have a tourist visa or visitor visa and want to visit your partner in the United States, you might also think about whether you can get married on a tourist visa without leaving the U.S.
To start the green card process with the help of a top-notch immigration lawyer, contact our law firm using platforms Skype, WhatsApp, or ZOOM if you are overseas. Or, you call us for telephone consultation at +1-800-808-4013.
Short Review on B1 B2 Visa
B1/B2 visa is a non-immigrant visa. B1/ B2 visa is usually suitable for those ineligible for an ESTA visa waiver or who require a longer-term visa. The B-1 B-2 visa allows the visa holder to enter the United States for business or tourism and stay for six months in the U.S.
The B-1 visa is intended for business trips, and the B-2 visa is a tourist or visitor visa that you can use for vacations or family visits.
The B1/B2 visa is valid for ten years.
What Can You Do With B 1 B 2 visa?
This tourist or visitor visa allows you just to come to the U.S. but, also it allows:
- Tourist/business visits
- Attending the required embassy interview
The B1 B2 visa is also used by people who fell in love with a U.S. citizen to get married to their partner who is a U.S. Citizen or permanent resident.
Get Married While you hold B 1 B 2 Visa
Many foreign nationals who want to get married as U.S. citizens or lawful permanent resident often wonder if is it possible to adjust their status and seek permanent residency in the U.S. if they married while on a tourist visa or visitor visa.
As an immigrant getting married to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident on a B-1/B-2 visitor visa, you can apply for a marriage visa to live with your spouse in the United States.
As a B-1/B-2 visa holder, you could apply for a green card when you come to the U.S. through a process known as “adjustment of status” and filing your application with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services USCIS.
Otherwise, you can apply from your home country using consular processing and submitting your green card application with the U.S. consulate or U.S. embassy in your country.
This guide will cover both options to help you determine the best approach and avoid common mistakes that could affect your green card application
Timing of The Wedding
When examining your case, USCIS may question the timing of your wedding.
If you got married too soon, right after you entered the U.S. and apply for adjustment of status, USCIS might assume that the marriage is fraudulent and that your intention to enter the U.S. is only for immigration purposes.
On the other side, if you are entering the U.S. intending to get married and then return to your home country, the timing of your wedding about your entry are irrelevant.
Adjustment of Status and Consular Processing- What is the Difference?
Before we continue, it’s good to remind ourselves what is the main difference between the processes of obtaining green cards.
Adjustment of Status is the process that can use applicants who are already in the United States.
On the other side, consular processing is for foreigners who apply for a green card from outside the United States.
Whatever path you take, applying for a green card is a far-reaching decision.
Like most nonimmigrant visas, a B-1/B-2 visa requires that the foreign national has a nonimmigrant intent. Nonimmigrant intent is when the foreign national does not plan to stay in the United States.
Because of this, the foreigner has to prove that he or she will return to the home country once the purpose of the trip is fulfilled.
Using visitor visas as opposed to their purposes (B-1 visit is a temporary business and the B-2 temporary leisure) to enter the U.S. with the sole intention to get married and apply for a green card is a form of fraud and violation of the terms of the visa.
What Can Happen If I Use my B-1 or B-2 visa just to get married in the U.S.?
Marrying a U.S. citizen for the sole purpose to obtain a green card and lawful permanent resident status is the misconduct that may result in a denied green card application, or even worse, it can create long-term immigration problems.
Generally, it is legal to get married while you are in the U.S. as a visitor on a B-2 visa, but only if you return home at the end of your permitted stay. However, this is not a risk-free strategy.
The border officials may not believe your intentions, and they can exercise “expedited removal” powers and deny you entry and put an order of removal on your record. This will prevent your return to the U.S. for several years.
This is why the better option is to obtain a fiance visa K-1 to travel to the United States, visit your loved one, and get married, although obtaining it can take a little bit longer.
K-1 Dual Intent
Unlike most temporary visas, a dual intent visa allows foreign nationals to stay in the United States temporarily, but with the intention to immigrate to the U.S. permanently.
If a foreign nation wants to adjust status to permanent residence with other nonimmigrant visas, it can trigger severe, long-term immigration problems.
Most people will find it challenging to qualify for a U.S. nonimmigrant visa, especially if there is any evidence of immigrant intent.
Proving Nonimmigrant Intent
There are some types of nonimmigrant visas that require proof that the applicant:
- Does not intend to immigrate to the U.S. permanently;
- Hasn’t abandoned foreign residence; and
- Will visit come to the United States just temporarily.
When a consular officer assesses whether a nonimmigrant visa will be issued to the applicants, the officer considers requirements and the factors that will encourage them to return to the home country and factors that may attract the applicant to stay in the U.S.
Factors that the Consular Officer Would Pay Attention to –
To determine what is the applicant’s intent, the consular officer will consider:
- Family and personal ties in a home country and the U.S.
- Work and business ties in a home country and the U.S., as well as opportunities
- Homes owned or leased in a home country and the U.S.
- Property ties such as car/cars, bank accounts, investments, another real estate in each country
- Social or cultural ties
- Efforts made before to establish permanent residence in the U.S. and previous U.S. immigration violations
- Whether the purpose of coming to the U.S. is transparent, credible, and consistent with the desire to keep a principal home abroad.
90-day rule for B 1 B 2 visitor visa holders
Figuring out whether to use adjustment of status application process or consular processing can be complicated. B-1/B-2 visa holders can sometimes use adjustment of status to apply for a green card.
However, visa holders may face extra scrutiny by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) when they use a B-1 B-2 visa to enter the United States because they are declaring their intention to leave the U.S. before the period of admittance expires.
If instead, a foreigner remains in the United States and begins the adjustment of status process, they could find themselves questioned over whether they misrepresented intentions when first entered the United States.
If a USCIS officer determines that you lied, your green card application can be rejected, and your temporary visa revoked. Temporary visa holders who file for a green card within 90 days of arriving in the United States are deemed to have “willfully misrepresented” their intentions. But if you understand the 90-day rule used by USCIS officers, you can avoid such a situation.
Two paths to a Green Card
As a B-1/B-2 visa holder, your route to a marriage green card will differ depending on whether your spouse is a U.S. citizen or a green-card holder.
IF YOUR SPOUSE IS A U.S. CITIZEN
If you are married to a U.S. citizen and plan to apply for a green card visa and adjust status, you and your spouse will first need to file the two forms.
Green Card Application Forms Filed By Both Spouses
- Form I-130 (family sponsorship form or “Petition for Alien Relative”) — filed by your spouse, who is a U.S. citizen.
- Form I-485 (the green card application — or the “Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status”) — filed by the B-1/B-2 visitor.
You can file both these forms concurrently or at the same time.
Bona Fide Marriage
As long as your marriage with your U.S. citizen spouse is “in good faith,” meaning that your marriage is genuine and entered with love, you should be able to receive your green card within 10 to 13 months. When you send your application package, you will be invited to the green card interview to prove to the U.S. government that your marriage is real.
IF YOUR SPOUSE IS A GREEN CARD HOLDER
If your spouse is a green card holder, he or she has to:
- Form I-130 (the “Petition for Alien Relative”). Upon approval, you must wait to receive a visa number and then to apply for a marriage-based green card. Visa numbers are not immediately available to spouses of green-card holders.
- If your visa number becomes available:
- Before your visa expires, you can stay in the United States. In this case, you need to follow the same green card application process for most other spouses living in the United States and use Form I-485. Once your green card application is approved, your physical green card will arrive in about 29 to 38 months.
- After your visa expires, you will need to leave the United States and use consular processing in your home country. Once your marriage-based green card application is approved, your green card will be mailed in 23 to 32 months.
Do You Need An Immigration Attorney?
If you fell in love and are planning on getting married when you come to the U.S., hiring an immigration attorney at the right time from the very first beginning can have a huge impact on the process’s efficiency and success.
Herman Legal Group is a law firm having fruitful experience bringing spouses of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents and other family members to the United States. Attorneys at our law firm deal with all the paperwork and may provide professional legal advice on how to act through the process and guide you through the transition from non-immigration visas to immigration visas, all the way to obtaining U.S. citizenship.
Herman Legal Group law firm provides all legal immigration services and can help you fill out any necessary form and make sure you enter the United States on a valid visa and get into the process of obtaining a green card. Don’t worry; you can trust the immigration attorneys in our law firm. We highly respect the attorney-client privilege, so any information and data provided will be treated with confidentiality.
After the consultation, your immigration attorney will design the unique strategy applicable to your case and help you prepare your green card application and required immigration forms.
How To Get Legal Advice?
If you wonder when to hire a lawyer, we can ensure you that the best time is NOW! People often make mistakes that could easily be avoided if an attorney guided them.
Having an immigration attorney to promptly provide the right legal advice at each phase of the process will leave enough time for you to make plans to get married. For information on green card processes, you can find them on the blog.
Please, keep in mind that the information on this website is not legal advice. For getting the right legal advice applicable to your case, call us and schedule the consultation to talk to a lawyer who will assess your case and design the right strategy for you.
To contact us, use one of the online platforms you prefer: Skype, WhatsApp, or ZOOM if you are overseas. Or, you can call us for telephone consultation at +1-216-696-6170.