Can You Get Married on a Visitor Visa?
The short answer to this complex question is yes, you can get married to someone who has entered the U.S. on a visitor visa. Generally, anyone from a foreign country enters the U.S. with a visa. The type of visa they are granted is based on the intent of their visit. A non-immigrant visa designates a temporary stay, and an immigrant visa designates an individual who will be applying for permanent residence. Visitor visas fall under non-immigrant visas.
If you or a loved one has questions about immigration status, visas, or how to get married on a visitor visa, call the Austin immigration attorneys at the Law Office of William Jang, PLLC. Whether you have arrived to pursue an education, take a job offer, or get married, you have legal rights as an immigrant. An experienced and qualified immigration attorney can help you meet your goals and obtain citizenship. Call our offices at (512) 323-2333 for a confidential legal consultation.
Are There Different Types of Visitor Visas?
There are two types of visitor visas. An individual who comes to the U.S. for business will have a category B-1 visa, and an individual here for tourism will have a category B-2. People who come to the U.S. for a combination may hold a B-1/B-2 visa.
Activities that fall under a business visa include attending conventions or conferences, settling an estate, negotiating a contract, or consulting with business associates. Activities that qualify for a tourist visa include vacation, medical treatment, participation in social events, participation in amateur events, or enrollment in a short recreational course for credit towards a degree. This might include a two-day cooking class or dance class while on vacation. In some instances, a person may be traveling on business for half of their visit and vacation for the second half. This would qualify them for a B-1/B-2 visa.
If an individual comes to the U.S. on a visitor visa and decides to get married, they may be allowed to apply for a green card under an adjustment of status. This is a process in which the visa status is adjusted from visitor visa to permanent resident.
What Are Your Intentions?
There are some types of travel and activities that require a different type of visa, such as employment, study, paid performances, or work as a foreign press, film, or journalist. A U.S. citizen can also apply for a non-immigrant fiancé visa (K-1). This allows the individual from a foreign country to come to the U.S. to get married. It also opens the door for the couple to legally apply for an adjustment of status after the marriage.
In the past, there have been many who have come to the U.S. on a visitor visa with the intent of marrying a U.S. citizen to acquire a green card status. The fiancé visa is slightly more difficult and often takes longer than a visitor visa. Also, there is nothing in the regulations that says you cannot get married on a tourist visa.
However, when an individual has the clear intention of marrying and applying for an adjustment of status to stay permanently in the U.S., it can cause trouble. The government sees this as visa fraud. Individuals who successfully get an adjustment of status have generally been able to prove they came with the honest intentions assigned to the visitor visa. In other words, they had no intention of getting married when they came to the U.S. For a marriage under a visitor visa to work, it must fit several rules. The marriage must be in good faith and not for the purpose of acquiring a green card and permanent residence.
The U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) will also look at the timing of your wedding. It can raise a red flag if you are married quickly after getting into the U.S. and then apply for an adjustment of status. If this adjustment is denied, you may be referred for removal or deportation. It is also important to remember that while the application for adjustment to status is underway, you cannot leave the U.S. until you receive your final papers. If you do leave, you may not be allowed to return, and your application will be classified “abandoned” and then denied.
However, foreign nationals can come to the U.S. to get married and then return home. You must be able to prove your intent to return home after the wedding. Documents like lease agreements, a return ticket, and letters from employers show your intention.
Contact the Law Office of William Jang, PLLC with Your Questions Today
The consequences of visa fraud can be significant. Individuals may be deported or may pay a penalty of up to $10,000 and imprisonment of up to five years. In the eyes of the government, the intent to marry a U.S. citizen is the same as an intent to immigrate. This is why proving there was no initial intention to marry under a visitor visa is vital if you choose to apply for an adjustment of status.
The safest way is by filing for a fiancé visa. If you or a loved one has questions about their immigration status or marrying a foreign national, call the Law Office of William Jang, PLLC today. Our experienced and compassionate legal team will seek legal protection for your rights under the law. Call our offices today at (512) 323-2333 for a confidential legal consultation.