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Understanding the 30/60/90 Rule in Marriage-Based Immigration

Successful immigration to the United States depends on two major factors: compliance and intent. The compliance factor consists of doing things exactly as U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services stipulate, which means navigating a complex and bureaucratic path to legal residency. The intent factor largely consists of overcoming suspicions, particularly when it comes to marriage-based visas.

The 30/60/90 rule applies to non-immigrants who arrive in the U.S. and decide to apply for immigration status. One example would be a tourist from India who reconnects with an elderly, estranged and disabled sister in New York and decides to stay and care for her. On the surface, the intent appears noble. However, immigration officials are bound to be suspicious.

Preconceived intent is something that affects all foreigners who apply for immigration benefits within 30 days of having arrived in the country. Bad faith is immediately assumed and the probability of a visa approval is diminished. This is especially true when a foreigner marries a U.S. citizen as a tourist, student, business visitor, performer, athlete, etc.

Let’s say an Armenian businessman flies to San Diego to acquire a property. It so happens that he falls in love with the pretty real estate agent, and they decide to get married and move into the house he acquires. A seasoned immigration lawyer in San Diego would advise the couple not to rush into marriage because it could cause doubt as to what the real reason for the marriage is.

If the aforementioned couple gets married within 30 to 60 days of the foreign businessman’s arrival, immigration officials will not automatically assume bad faith, but there may be a consideration of preconceived intent. This is when the immigration attorney will jump into action to prove that his or her Armenian client did not intend to stay in the U.S. He originally wanted to buy a house for investment purposes.

Preconceived intent lessens after 60 days. Immigration officials may still hint that a green card application was submitted in bad faith, but the burden would fall on them to establish this claim. Even if an application submitted after 60 days is initially declined based on an assumption of bad faith, it may be approved on appeal.

After 90 days, the preconceived intent mostly disappears. Whenever possible, marriage and adjustment of status applications should not be submitted prior to 60 days, but this can be done if the circumstances require and if an immigration attorney is retained.

To learn more about preconceived content or for help with family immigration visas, don’t hesitate to reach out to us today. Call (858) 874-0711 and schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced immigration attorneys in San Diego.

June 2017
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