Gregor enters the United States as a tourist, marries Eileen (a U.S. citizen) three months later, and they apply for his green card in New York. At the green card interview the officer asks, “What was your intention when you entered the United States?” Gregor says, “Our relationship was going very well long-distance, so I decided to travel to the United States to see Eileen in person. Frankly, it was also time for a vacation. A few weeks after I arrived, we realized we were really and truly in love. And when that feeling didn’t wear off, we decided to marry.” This answer has promise. Even if this couple was contemplating marriage before Gregor arrived, his candid answer, plus the fact that they waited over two months to get married, makes clear that Gregor did not just use the tourist visa to get around the U.S. immigration laws.
The problem with using a tourist visa for U.S. entry is that if your U.S. fiancé or spouse is a permanent resident (not a US Citizen), you will (due to annual limits on visa allotments) likely have to wait for years until you are eligible for permanent residence or a green card. That means that if you come to the United States as a tourist and your visa runs out, you will be here illegally for all of those years of waiting, and you run the risk of being deported.
- Expired tourist visa can still apply for conditional green card. But you risk getting deported while waiting for a green card.
- Intent seems to matter with the tourist visa. If the intent of getting the tourist visa was to get a green card this is bad, but if the intent of getting the tourist visa was to NOT violate the visa, but something happened that changed the intent, then this is legal.