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Marrying while in the United States on a tourist visa

What happens when you happen to be in the United States on a temporary visa, like a B1 for business or a B2 for tourism, meet someone and fall in love? These are the answers to some of the most important questions that you may have.

-- Do you have to wait until you are able to get a K1, or fiance's visa, in order to get married and apply for a green card?

No, you don't. There's no law requiring you to have a K1 visa before you get married to a United States citizen, nor is there any way to file for one while you are still within the United States. You are generally free to marry while you are still holding a tourist visa.

-- Are you considered an illegal immigrant once your tourist visa expires?

No. However, you do need to file your green card application in order to apply for a work permit or travel documentation. You may encounter a problem with immigration, however, if immigration authorities suspect you of misusing the tourist visa in order to get into the United States and get married while going around the rules for a K1 visa. You may also run into a problem if the authorities think that your marriage is a sham, and you and your spouse took your vows in a ruse just to keep you in the United States once your tourist visa expired.

-- How do you prove that your marriage wasn't pre-planned and that it isn't a sham?

Around 6 months to a year after you file for your green card, you'll go through a "marriage interview." Immigration will ask you to provide all the supporting evidence that shows when and where your relationship developed, including things like photos, emails, mementos, and other documentation of your romance. You will also then be required to submit documentation about your joint financial relationship as well, showing that you and your spouse have adequate income to meet your needs. The interviewer will also likely ask some personal questions about youmarriage to ensure that you are, in fact, a legitimate couple.

Because of the seriousness of the problems you could encounter if immigration thinks you misused your tourist visa or are in a sham marriage, it may be wise to speak to an immigration law attorney as soon as possible.

Source: FindLaw, "Green Card Marriage Interview FAQs," accessed March 27, 2017

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