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When will we marry? Since when did such a romantic proposal become a three-way process?   One might say, never.  But surprisingly, I get a lot of invitations to join in the decision-making process.   Due to ethical concern, I don’t participate. Besides, it’s totally none of my business. 

Lolita came by the office one afternoon asking if she could marry someone she met a month ago at a summer beach party in San Diego, California.  Love was in her eyes, totally mesmerized by the presence of Dave, a US-born Caucasian dude clasping her hand. Lolita came to the US on a tourist visa wanting to visit her friends, and she has been here for a few months.

Girlie came by one morning with Ronald asking the same question.  Girlie and Ronald have been engaged for about three years but it was her first visit in the US after she was issued a tourist visa a month ago.  She had applied for a visitor’s visa at the US embassy twice before, and had been denied.  She was lucky to have been issued a multiple-entry tourist visa in her third try.

  Christian and Ray have been a couple for the last 10 years and want to know the best time to get married as they note that same-sex marriages are now recognized.  Christian has been coming in and out of the US on legitimate business trips and, of course, to visit Ray. 

Every time this question is asked, it takes the romance out of the relationship that is true and legitimate from the very start.  But word gets around about “red flags” known to cause problems for spousal petitions and green-card applications filed in the United States.

One of these known “red flags” is getting married within the first 90 days of arrival in the US, an action which presumes a hidden, false or fraudulent intent to come to the US for a purpose other than to visit friends and relatives or see scenic places.  Indeed there is such a presumption of false intent in the US immigration manuals.

A tourist visa is a permission given by the US Department of State to a person  to visit the country without any intention of finding a mate to marry (if that can be discerned).  Very true, a foreigner who comes and eventually marries a US citizen gets a green card, but it is not as easy as it may sound.  Suspicion lurks over one’s intent if one marries immediately upon arrival in the US, especially with a US citizen the foreigner met very recently.

The United States expects foreigners to respect and obey its rules, as any country in the world would. The US immigration process has ample rules for marital or spousal petition when a US citizen or lawful permanent resident marries a foreigner. It requires the filing a petition for the alien-spouse and obtaining the immigrant visa from the consul at the US embassy.

US officials frown upon short-cuts and are always suspicious of tourists getting married upon arrival in the US and obtaining green cards by way of AOS (Adjustment of Status).  Even if the alien-spouse has a tourist visa, US officials would expect that the proper thing to do is apply abroad and go through consular processing.

The most important factor they look into is intent.  It does not matter if an alien just met the US citizen or has been in a long term relationship.  If an applicant can prove by sufficient evidence that the intention to come to the US is merely and solely to visit and whatever happens after the visit (such as finding one’s soul mate or marrying one’s love) is not originally intended or planned as really is the case, then an exception can be made.

Consistently, the best thing to do is always to tell the truth. No one can fault another for falling in love at first sight.   


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