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Can You Get Married on a Tourist Visa to a U.S. Citizen?

When love is in the air, we tend to think there’s nothing that can stop it. If you find yourself on vacation in the United States, there will always be a chance of romance, which means there may also be a possibility of finding that special someone with whom you would like to share your life. The laws that govern the American immigration system cannot prevent you from getting married as a tourist, but there are things you should keep in mind if you would like to eventually move here. 

Postpone Marriage if You Want to Immigrate

Let’s say a teacher from the Philippines visits San Diego on a 90-day tourist visa, and he or she happens to fall in love with an American citizen. If this couple intends to permanently relocate to Manila because the teacher has no interest in becoming an immigrant, this could lead to a happy ending without any complications. However, if the teacher wants to get a green card and teach in California schools, getting married while on vacation may not be the best move.

Before saying “I do,” the Filipino teacher in our example should seek the counsel of a San Diego immigration law firm to weigh his or her options. If there’s a reasonable and viable opportunity to postpone the wedding—and in this case, it should be postponed—a better course of action would be to file a K-1 visa. This would involve the teacher returning home and waiting for his or her fiancée to start the process, but it’s the safest bet.

Don’t Try to Combine Marriage with Immigration on a Tourist Visa

There’s really nothing that precludes tourists from getting married in the U.S. They can marry citizens, permanent residents, and even other foreign tourists. In fact, there’s an entire wedding industry operating in Las Vegas for this purpose. From a legal point of view, marriage and immigration are separate matters. However, problems may arise when the foreign groom or bride specifically obtains a B-1 or B-2 visa knowing they’re traveling in order to combine marriage with immigration. Let’s not forget tourist visas are for tourism purposes alone, so using them to get married just because they may be easier to obtain than K-1 visas may be seen as a fraudulent action.

A tourist who gets married just a few days before his or her visa runs out would certainly catch the attention of immigration officials, and not in a good way. Even if the tourist exits the U.S. while his or her B-2 visa is still valid, he or she may have a difficult time returning to visit his or her spouse or adjust his or her status from tourist to immigrant.

Since the K-1 visa is considered to be the most straightforward path to residency and naturalization, it would be worth pursuing it instead of rushing to the altar while still on vacation, especially if your visa application process is handled by an immigration law firm.

For more information on issues such as citizenship, naturalization, and family-based immigration, San Diego residents should reach out to the experienced immigration attorneys at KS Visa Law. Call us today at 858-874-0711 to schedule an appointment.

April 2024