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Navigating the Complexity of Applying for a Marriage-Based Green Card While on a Visitor Visa

Many individuals who are married to U.S. citizens often wonder if they can enter the United States on a visitor visa and then adjust their status to obtain a green card. However, this is a complex issue that requires a thorough understanding of the legal implications involved. In this blog post, we will explore the important factors to consider when applying for a marriage green card on a visitor visa.

1. Seek Legal Guidance:

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2. Understand the Intentions:

When you enter the U.S. on a visitor visa, you are stating that your intention is to visit temporarily. However, applying for a green card signals a desire for permanent residency. This conflicting intention can lead to complications during the application process.

3. Misconceptions:

There is a common misconception that waiting 90 days after entering the U.S. on a visitor visa automatically allows you to file for a green card. However, this is a myth, and there is no fixed timeframe for when you can apply. Instead, what matters is your original intention upon entering the country and any changes that occurred later.

4. Change of Circumstances: 

In some situations, if something significant changes after you entered the U.S. on a visitor visa – such as a medical emergency – it might be possible to argue that your intentions shifted. For example, if you become pregnant and your health is at risk, applying for a green card to be with your spouse may be deemed justifiable.

5. Intent to Deceive: 

It is essential to be truthful when entering the U.S. on a visitor visa. If you plan to stay and apply for a green card but claim otherwise to immigration officers, it can create significant problems. Deception at the time of entry can result in the denial of your adjustment of status and can lead to complications in future immigration applications.

6. Special Consideration for U.S. Citizen Spouses:

In U.S. immigration law, spouses of U.S. citizens are given preferential treatment. While your original intention is crucial, there are cases where a change in intention may not be an absolute barrier to adjusting your status if you are married to a U.S. citizen. However, navigating this middle ground can be complex, and you should consult an immigration attorney to understand your options fully.

7. Individual Analysis:

Each case is different, and it is important to seek professional advice specific to your circumstances. An immigration attorney can conduct a comprehensive analysis of your case, considering various factors such as entry history, intentions, and any changes that have occurred.


Obtaining a marriage-based green card while on a visitor visa can be a complicated process. Understanding the legal realities, seeking professional guidance, and being honest about your intentions is crucial. If you find yourself in this situation, consult with an immigration attorney who can provide you with the necessary guidance to navigate through this complex immigration process.


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