Navigating the 90-Day Rule in the U.S. Immigration Process
What is the 90-Day Rule?
The 90-day rule is a concept that pertains to the timing of certain actions taken by nonimmigrants or individuals seeking to adjust their status within the United States. It primarily applies to those holding nonimmigrant visas (such as tourist, student, or work visas) and individuals seeking to change their status or extend their stay in the country.
The rule essentially states that if a nonimmigrant enters the United States with the intent to engage in activities that are inconsistent with their visa status within 90 days of their arrival, this could be considered fraudulent or misrepresentation. In other words, if you enter the US on a tourist visa and marry a U.S. citizen and apply for a green card within the first 90 days of your arrival, this may raise red flags in your case.
Significance of the 90-Day Rule
The 90-day rule is significant because it helps immigration authorities determine the true intent of individuals entering the United States. While it is not illegal to change one’s status or pursue immigration benefits after entry, it is crucial that these intentions are disclosed and pursued in accordance with the law.
The rule aims to prevent visa fraud and misrepresentation by ensuring that individuals do not use nonimmigrant visas as a backdoor to permanent immigration. If someone genuinely enters the US as a tourist and later decides to marry a US citizen or apply for a different visa, it’s essential that they follow the proper legal procedures.
How the 90-Day Rule Applies
The 90-day rule is applied to various immigration scenarios, including:
Change of Status: If someone enters the US on a nonimmigrant visa and later applies to change their status to another nonimmigrant category, such as from a student visa to a work visa, doing so within 90 days of arrival may raise questions.
Marriage-Based Adjustment of Status: If a person enters the US on a tourist visa and marries a US citizen shortly after arrival, the timing of the marriage and subsequent adjustment of status application may be scrutinized.
Adjustment of Status from Visa Waiver Program: Travelers entering the U.S. through the Visa Waiver Program are also subject to the 90-day rule
It’s important to note that the 90-day rule does not automatically mean that individuals cannot change their status or apply for immigration benefits within the first 90 days of arrival. What matters is the intent at the time of entry. If their intentions change after arrival, they should have evidence to document that and supporting the fact that they had planned to comply with the terms of the visa.
How to Navigate the 90-Day Rule
To navigate the 90-day rule successfully, individuals should:
Be truthful about their intentions when entering the US: If your intentions change after you arrive in the US, consult with an immigration attorney to ensure that you follow the proper procedures and maintain compliance with immigration laws.
Maintain documentation: Keep records of your activities and intentions during your stay in the US, as this documentation can be valuable in demonstrating your compliance with the law.
The 90-day rule is an important concept in the US immigration process, designed to prevent visa fraud and ensure that individuals follow the correct legal procedures when changing their status or pursuing immigration benefits. Understanding the rule and complying with it is essential to avoid legal complications and maintain a positive immigration record. Seek professional guidance if you have questions or concerns about how the 90-day rule applies to your specific situation. By doing so, you can navigate the U.S. immigration system successfully and work towards achieving your immigration goals.