Can I marry my girlfriend when she visits on a tourist visa? 2 Answers as of November 03, 2010

I am a U.S. citizen that wants to marry my girlfriend when she comes to visit on a tourist visa. My girlfriend comes in December and I want to know if there is a way to marry her and file for a green card? Will she be able to stay with me here in the U.S., or will she have to go back to Panama?

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Pacifica Legal Services
Pacifica Legal Services | Floyd Fernandez
It is possible for you to marry your girlfriend, but the fact she is coming on a tourist visa is a problem. A tourist visa is on the promise that she is only coming temporarily, not to stay permanently. If you petition for her after marrying her here, the strong impression will be (in this case accurately), that she came here with the intent to stay permanently and gain an immigration benefit. That would make your marriage an act of immigration fraud, and can result in a permanent ban for your girlfriend, and possible jail time for you. However, there are instances where people who came with no plans to marry their American sweetheart wind up doing so during an extended visit, and successfully obtained a visa based on marriage after the two-step process of your I-130 Petition for Alien Relative, and her I-485 Application for Adjustment of Status. However, they presented a lot of independent evidence to support their claim. I would wait to apply for such a visa, by getting engaged, letting her go back to her country, and making a K-3 application for consular-processed visa, where she would pick up the visa back home at a U.S. embassy or consulate (a 3-5 month process), and coming back to the U.S. to apply for adjustment of status. It does not leave you with the danger of fraud.

If you want to consider the help of an attorney, you may call or e-mail me at the phone number/e-mail below. I would be pleased to set up an in-person or telephone consultation with you.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 11/3/2010
Law Offices of Svetlana Boukhny
Law Offices of Svetlana Boukhny | Svetlana Boukhny
It may be possible but it really has to be strategized correctly and it is best if you consult with an immigration attorney before you proceed.

Please let me know if you have any additional questions or how I can be of further assistance to you in this matter.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 10/21/2010
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