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Can You Marry a U.S. Citizen in the U.S. as an Immigrant?

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Can I get in trouble for getting married in the United States as an immigrant? Hi, I'm Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States at our office here in St. Louis, Missouri. We've been getting more and more questions in our Immigrant Home Facebook group, and we've been turning them into videos. So, if you have a question that you think would apply to people more than just you, or if you just have a general question, feel free to join our Facebook group. It's called Immigrant Home. If you have a question it might lead to a video.

So, today's question comes from Mark. Mark says, "Hi. So I came to America last year for a mini vacation to see my girlfriend who is an American citizen. She lives in America now. I have been to America for decades and never did I have an intention to live there. My girlfriend and I were too much in love, and we got married while I was there." I love that, too much in love. "My question is, can we now file the I-130? We did plan a boat cruise for our honeymoon, but with COVID we had to stop and cancel. I am now back in my country. Will that be a problem seeing that I came and got married?"

All right, Mark, so this video is for you. The question is does he, as a non-immigrant, who was in the United States, is he going to get in trouble by marrying a U.S. citizen? No, Mark, you did the exact right thing, you didn't do anything wrong. So, you can get married in the United States even if you are not a U.S. citizen. You can get married on a non-immigrant visa. Generally, you just need your passport and you can get married. Now, when I started reading that note from Mark I thought Mark was going to say that he had stayed in the United States and was thinking about adjusting status here in the United States. So, this is a little bit tricky. If Mark had all the intention in the world to come to the United States and marry his girlfriend, and he came on a non-immigrant visa he could get hit with a misrepresentation, depending on how long he'd had the visa, and when was the last time he went. Now, he says he visits the United States all the time so that, I think, would cut down on an immigrant intent question.

What he did, what Mark did, is by getting married and going back home and now thinking about filing an I-130, having his U.S. citizen girlfriend file an I-130 for him, he's done it exactly right? There's not going to can be any question of immigrant intent, because he came on his non-immigrant visa. He married a U.S. citizen, then he went back home. He could have stayed here in the United States. Now, if they had gotten married within those first 60 days of his arrival that would be a problem because that creates a presumption, which means the government can presume, or pretend, or assume, that he had immigrant intent, that he was coming here for the sole purpose of getting married and getting a green card. Mark doesn't have that problem at all. He did it exactly right. He did it exactly the way the Immigration Service wants him to do it.

Now, not everybody has that luxury. A lot of people can't come see their U.S. citizen girlfriend on a non-immigrant visa, because as soon as the State Department gets a whiff of there being a boyfriend, or a girlfriend, in the United States then most likely they're going to turn down that visit visa. But, if you heard in Mark's question he came all the time, so he had always maintained his non-immigrant status. He hadn't violated that status on any of his prior trips. So Mark should be in very good shape. So Mark, in answer to your question, your girlfriend should file that I-130 right away, and once it gets processed by the USCIS and approved it'll get sent to the National Visa Center, and then eventually it'll get sent to the embassy in your home country, or wherever you're residing now, to have your interview. Then, once you come to the United States your green card should follow, if you do everything correctly.

So Mark, that was a great question. It's an unusual fact pattern. Usually what we hear is that people have gotten married and want to stay in the United States. They don't want to be separated from their spouse. Your question is, is anybody going to to be mad at you, or did you do anything wrong? Most definitely not. You did it exactly the way the Federal Government wants you to. So, if you have questions about this, more questions, Mark, or if anybody else has questions along similar lines, give us a call at (314) 961-8200. You can email us at [email protected]. Be sure to join us in our Facebook group, which is called Immigrant Home. If you liked this video, please be sure to share it out on social media, and to subscribe to our YouTube channel so that you get updates whenever we make videos just like this one. Thanks a lot and have a great day.

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