How Can the 90-Day Rule Affect Change of Status from F-1 to Marriage-Based Green Card Application?

The “90-Day Rule” is a USCIS policy that was implemented on August 9, 2018, to scrutinize certain adjustment of status applications, particularly those based on marriage, when the applicant enters the United States on a nonimmigrant visa and marries a U.S. citizen or permanent resident shortly after arrival. This rule aims to prevent visa fraud and sham marriages entered into solely for immigration benefits.

Under the 90-Day Rule, if an individual marries a U.S. citizen or permanent resident within 90 days of entering the U.S. on a nonimmigrant visa (such as an F-1 student visa) and then applies for adjustment of status to obtain a green card, USCIS will look closely at the circumstances surrounding the marriage to determine whether it is bona fide (genuine) or entered into solely for the purpose of obtaining an immigration benefit.

If USCIS finds evidence to suggest that the marriage is not bona fide or that there was preconceived intent to get married and apply for a green card upon entering the U.S., they may deny the adjustment of status application, and the applicant could potentially be placed in removal proceedings.

It’s important to note that the 90-Day Rule is not a strict “penalty” for getting married within 90 days of entering the U.S. on a nonimmigrant visa. Rather, it is a policy that allows USCIS officers to consider the totality of the circumstances surrounding the marriage to determine its legitimacy. If the marriage is genuine and not a sham, the adjustment of status application should be approved.

To avoid issues with the 90-Day Rule, it’s essential to be prepared and provide strong evidence of a bona fide marriage when applying for adjustment of status. Some tips include:

Provide comprehensive documentary evidence of your relationship, such as joint financial records, joint lease or mortgage, joint utility bills, joint insurance policies, and photographs of you and your spouse together with family and friends.

Be prepared to answer questions about your relationship truthfully and consistently during the adjustment of status interview.

Avoid making any false statements or misrepresentations to USCIS.

If you plan to get married soon after entering the U.S., consult with an immigration attorney to ensure that your actions are compliant with immigration regulations and to be well-prepared for the green card application process.

As with any immigration-related matter, it is crucial to seek advice from an experienced immigration attorney to understand the potential implications of the 90-Day Rule and to navigate the adjustment of status process successfully.

If your F-1 visa expires while you are waiting for your marriage-based green card (adjustment of status) application to be processed, it should not be a problem as long as you have timely filed Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, before your F-1 status expired. When you file Form I-485, you are considered to be in a period of authorized stay, commonly referred to as “pending adjustment of status.”

Here’s what you need to know:

Authorized Stay: When your Form I-485 is pending, you are allowed to remain in the U.S. even if your F-1 visa has expired. This is known as “authorized stay.” You can continue to stay in the U.S. until a decision is made on your adjustment of status application erratichour.

Work Authorization: If you filed Form I-485 and included Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, you may be eligible to receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). This EAD allows you to work legally in the U.S. while your green card application is pending, even if your F-1 status has expired.

Travel Restrictions: If you have a pending adjustment of status application, leaving the U.S. before receiving an Advance Parole travel document (Form I-131) could potentially lead to the abandonment of your application. This means you may lose the opportunity to adjust your status to a green card holder. Therefore, it’s generally recommended to avoid international travel while your green card application is pending unless you have obtained Advance Parole.

Maintaining Status While Awaiting Adjustment: While your adjustment of status application is pending, it’s crucial to maintain compliance with the terms of your F-1 status. For example, if you are still enrolled in school, continue attending classes and maintaining valid F-1 status until your green card is approved.

Validity of the Pending I-485: Your F-1 status and your ability to remain in the U.S. legally are dependent on the pending I-485 application. If your adjustment of status application is denied, you could lose your lawful status and may be subject to removal (deportation) proceedings.

It’s important to remember that the information provided here is based on the regulations and policies as of my last update in September 2021. Immigration laws and policies can change, so it’s essential to check the USCIS website or consult with an immigration attorney to ensure you are aware of the most current rules and requirements related to your specific situation. An immigration attorney can also help you understand the implications of your specific case and provide guidance throughout the green card application process.

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