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Expert James
Expert James, Immigration Attorney
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I got married in Argentina four months ago, my wife came a

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I got married in Argentina four months ago, my wife came a week ago with a tourist visa. I am a US citizen. We think the fastest way for her to get a green card is to marry while she is here in the US. Are we doing the correct thing?

Thank you for using this service. I'll do my best to answer your questions as completely and honestly as I can. All I ask in return is that you give me a positive rating for my customer service. This is the only way I get credit for assisting you. If you feel the need to use "poor service" or "bad service," please ask follow-up questions instead, so that I can try to help you further. Please remember that the law sometimes does not have a satisfactory solution for your issue; unfortunately, this is something I cannot control.

 

Is the marriage you had in Argentina legal under the marriage laws of Argentina?

 

Did she enter the US on a visitor visa, intending to stay in the US, get her green card, and live in the US? Or was she coming to the US intending to leave, and then changed her mind?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.


Hi,


Yes, it was a legal Argentinian marriage. She entered the US on a visitor visa and she needs to return to Argentina (she has a daughter and work). We were hoping to get a church marriage in Argentina. We changed our mind since someone told us to get married here to get green card fast, wait a couple of months for her legal papers (green card) and then return to Argentina, finish things and move to US with me.


Thanks,


ed

Ed,

While it is legal to enter the US as a visitor and get married and get a green card, to enter the US with a non-immigrant visa intending to get married and adjust status to an immigrant status is a violation of immigration laws and regulations. It can lead to a charge of immigration benefits fraud, which she does not want to confront. The right way to have done this, since you got married outside the US already and the marriage is legal (both in Argentina and the US) was for you to sponsor her for an immigrant petition, and for her to apply for an immigrant visa from Argentina.

Now that she is here, she should wait at least 90 days from entry, to apply for adjustment of status. This makes it less likely that she would be charged with immigration fraud. However you should note that it does not protect her or guarantee that she will not face issues, especially because she was married before she entered the US. That right there is a BIG indicator that a person entered the US intending to immigrate, which is not allowed with the visitor visa. So it is a risk to do this at this point.

While you are welcome to try it anyway, my suggestion would be to file the immigrant petition (I-130) on her behalf. She can stay in the US while it is processed, so long as her visitor status remains valid. Once the I-130 is approved and the National Visa Center contacts you to inform you that she is eligible to submit the immigrant visa application, she can file the petition and go for her interview at the US consulate. This way, she can spend as much time as she is allowed on the B1/B2 visitor visa, and then go back to Argentina to tie up her affairs and get the immigrant visa. That is the preferred method for a situation like this, especially considering the fact that she entered the US already married to a US citizen.

I do realize this is not the ideal method or situation for you both, but my job and responsibility to you is to be honest and truthful about the situation you describe. The USCIS frowns very much on aliens coming to the US with visas that are not appropriate for their actual purpose of travel. They do not take kindly of those who try to circumvent appropriate immigration procedures to lessen their wait times.

If you want to try the adjustment of status within the US, she needs to be prepared to show that her intent when she entered the US was to be a visitor, and that her intent changed after she entered the US. That will be a difficult task, under these circumstances.

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