Thu | Jan 17, 2019

Immigration Corner | I want to get married in the US

Published:Tuesday | October 3, 2017 | 12:00 AM

Dear Mrs Walker-Huntington,

I have a B1/B2 United States (US) visa. My girlfriend who is an American citizen is saying that I can come to the US and get married and live with her. What would be the procedure?



Dear WP,

As a visitor to the US who enters legally, you can file to change your status to a permanent resident if you marry your US girlfriend. This applies to whether you are in status or if your time to stay in the States has expired.

Once you are married, your US citizen wife is deemed an immediate relative and qualifies to file to change/adjust your status. Other immediate relatives are US citizen parents of under 21-year-old children, and over 21-year-old US sons and daughters who can file for their parents.

The major change that immigration practioners believe is about to occur is the change in the '30-day rule'. In September, 2017 the Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM) - that directs consular officers - issued a change from the '30 day rule' to a '90 day rule'. This is significant because although the FAM controls consular affairs, it is believed that this will be changed also by US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) which controls US based immigration filings, e.g. adjustment of status.

The '30-day rule' is that if upon arrival in the US, you did anything that indicated that you wanted to change your status within 30 days of arrival, your petition/application could be denied because it could be presumed that you intended to make those changes when you arrived. If you had the intent to remain in the US when you arrived in a temporary status, you voided your temporary status/visa and can be denied any application for change of status.

With a '90-day rule' pending within the US, immigration attorneys are strongly advising that you do attempt any changes within 90 days of arriving in the States.

In addition to the above, any person being filed for adjustment of status by a spouse must prove the validity of their marriage and that they are co-mingling their assets and their debts.

- Dahlia A. Walker-Huntington is a Jamaican-American attorney who practises immigration law in the United States; and family, criminal, international and personal injury law in Florida. She is a mediator, arbitrator and special magistrate in Broward County, Florida.