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Engagement gone sour - What will happen if I stay beyond my 'fiancé visa' time?

Published:Tuesday | November 27, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Dear Mrs Walker-Huntington,

Your articles have been so helpful. Now I need your advice.

I met a United States (US) citizen and we started a relationship. He came to Jamaica to visit me twice and on the last occasion he decided to get me a 'fiancé visa' so I could come to the US and get married.

I went for the interview and was granted a K-1 visa. I arrived in the US in October and within a week I was being accused of cheating while I was in Jamaica. It continued throughout the month and we had multiple arguments, and there were times where we didn't talk for days. It continued and he accused me of dating in the state we were in, which was impossible because I did not leave the apartment unless I was going to the gym or school. All my time was spent indoors.

Stay Out!

We had an argument one day and I stepped out to clear my head, and as I was leaving the house, he slammed the door behind me and told me to stay out and don't come back. I was outside for a few hours, then he finally let me in. Luckily, it was not one of those cold states.

The following day when he went to work I left and went to stay with my sister in New Jersey, and that is where I am now.

My departure paper is showing January 01, 2013. Do I have to go back home by that time? If I should stay beyond that time, what will be the outcome?

- AG

Dear AG,

Sorry to hear about your experience in America, but I am very glad that you wrote to me.

Among the reasons for the fiancé visas is for the intending immigrant to spend time with their US citizen intended, to find out if the relationship can progress to the next stage of marriage - hence the 90 days' time period in the US to get to know the US citizen and to 'test' the living relationship. In your case, it became clear very quickly that the long-distance relationship you were having with your fiancé and living with your fiancé proved to be two totally different relationships.

While the time to obtain the fiancé visa and the time to obtain a green card filed by a US citizen spouse is approximately the same (nine months to a year), the fiancé visa is best for persons who do not know their US boyfriend or girlfriend very well. The fiancé visa also protects the US citizen because some immigrants are not well intentioned and use the US citizen only to obtain permanent residence.

unable to stay

Along that line of reasoning, the immigration law allows a person who enters the US on a fiancé visa to obtain permanent residency only if they marry the US citizen who petitioned for the fiancé visa. This means that in your situation where the relationship has broken down and you have actually moved away from your fiancé, even if you marry another man you would not be able to remain in the US and obtain residency through the filing of this new husband. You must leave the US before the 90 days in your passport expire. No other person filing for residency for you while you remain in the US will be successful - not a spouse, parent, child or sibling.

It is unfortunate that your relationship did not evolve into marriage, but to secure any future opportunity to obtain permanent residency, you must return to Jamaica before January 1, 2013.

Dahlia A. Walker-Huntington is a Jamaican-American attorney who practises immigration law in the United States; and Family, Criminal & Personal Injury Law in Florida. She is a mediator, arbitrator and Special Magistrate in Broward County,