Can I change from my tourist visa status if I get married in the United States? 8 Answers as of January 27, 2011

I am a British citizen and currently visiting my girlfriend in the States. I am on a visa waiver program, we are planning on getting married while I am here in the States. Can my status be changed after the marriage? i have about 85 days left on my tourist visa (visa waiver program).

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Feldman Feldman & Associates, PC
Feldman Feldman & Associates, PC | Lynne Feldman
Yes as long as your case is received by USCIS before the 90th day - i.e. within the VWP period. Contact me for fees and procedures, documents needed etc. if we can assist with your case.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 1/27/2011
Law Office of Michael E. Hendrickson
Law Office of Michael E. Hendrickson | Michael E. Hendrickson
Yes, you should be able to adjust your status without a problem if you marry and your wife then petitions for your lawful permanent residency unless somehow you may have misled immigration authorities along the way regarding your original intent in coming as only a visitor. (The foregoing assumes that your wife to be is a U.S. citizen.).
Answer Applies to: Virginia
Replied: 1/20/2011
William C. Gosnell, Attorney at Law
William C. Gosnell, Attorney at Law | William C. Gosnell
Two years after you get married your wife can apply for a visa for you by filing an i-130

But between now and that time you must apply for another visa as a tourist, student or work visa.
Answer Applies to: Tennessee
Replied: 1/20/2011
Fletcher, Tilton & Whipple, PC
Fletcher, Tilton & Whipple, PC | Kirk A. Carter
You can attempt to adjust your status, but it is not without significant risk. The issue is one of "immigrant intent." When you arrived on the visa waiver your presented yourself for inspection and were required to state your purpose for coming to the US. That purpose needed to be consistent with the visa you held. The visa waiver/visitor's visa requires that you have "non-immigrant" intent, i.e. the intent to only visit the US temporarily and not to stay here permanently. If you were asked and said "I'm here for a visit" or "I'm here for a couple of weeks" and made no mention of your marital plans or your "bride to be" then you misrepresented your purpose in coming to the US. On the I-485, Application for Adjustment of Status, which is the green card application you would file to change or adjust your status here in the US, there is a question which asks whether you have ever lied or misrepresented anything to gain entry or obtain an immigration benefit. If you did not disclose your marital plans at the border (which would usually result in your not being allowed to enter the country under the visa waiver) and USCIS at your interview questions you about your intent, and you answer truthfully that you came with the plan to get married, they will likely determine that you misrepresented yourself at the border and are ineligible for a visa. You can overcome this ineligibility by obtaining a waiver (forgiveness), however, this is very, very difficult to obtain as you must demonstrate "extreme and unusual hardship" to your spouse or USC/LPR children. With all that said, not that many Immigration Officers, particularly here in the Boston Area dive into the issue of immigrant intent at the border during your green card interview unless the issue of intent is quite brazen, i.e. the wedding occurred within a few weeks of arrival. There is also the issue of what you admit under oath, though it is wrong to USCIS. It has been my personal observation that UK, Canadian and Western European nationals, particularly if they are Caucasian are given a pass on such issues, while individuals from other parts of the word are not. This is clearly discriminatory but I think reflects a personal bias on the part of certain officers at USCIS. The bottom line is that even though it is probably unlikely that you will have a problem with this issue so long as you don't marry too close to your arrival date, you still have to decide whether the risk (which could be a denial and possible bar from the US), outweighs the benefit, which is ability to get your case processed here in the US in as little as three to four months or so, rather than having to wait overseas for nine months or more.
Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
Replied: 1/20/2011
Theresa E. Tilton, Attorney at Law
Theresa E. Tilton, Attorney at Law | Theresa E. Tilton
You do not have a tourist visa, you are on a visa waiver. It is not possible to adjust status to immigrant from a visa waiver.

You will have to leave the country and apply for a fiance visa (nonimmigrant). Alternately, you may get married, leave the country, and apply for an immigrant visa (green card).

You do not say whether your fiancee is an American citizen. You will wait longer for permission to immigrate if your fiancee is not an American citizen.

Immigration law applies to all fifty states.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 1/20/2011
    Nicastro Piscopo, APLC
    Nicastro Piscopo, APLC | Louis M. Piscopo
    The law allows a visitor who entered under the VWP to adjust their status in the U.S. if they marry a U.S. Citizen. If your application is filed before you current stay expires you should not have a problem. However, if file after your 90 days stay expires you could have a problem since Attorneys have noticed that some USCIS offices are denying adjustment of status applications filed after the person's 90 days stay expired. We believe that this is based on their erroneous interpretation of a recent court case. In the area that I practice (Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino and Riverside Counties in California) there are not doing this. However, you should check with an attorney in your area to see how the USCIS is treating such cases.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/20/2011
    Law Office of Immigration & International Trade Law
    Law Office of Immigration & International Trade Law | Linda Liang
    As long as you make sure your visa status is valid before I485 is approved because filing for I485 does not automatically grant your immigration status.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 1/20/2011
    Hugo Florido ESQ.
    Hugo Florido ESQ. | Hugo Florido
    Yes you can!
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 1/20/2011
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