Immigration Q&A: Change of status through marriage

Question: For an adjustment of status through marriage case, does it actually matter how long a couple has been dating prior to filling the petition?

Answer: For adjustment of status cases in the U.S. – theoretically and legally – no. However, the length of time you have been dating before marrying a U.S. citizen or resident helps the USCIS officer determine whether or not they believe the marriage is real.

For example, if you have been dating for four months, then you marry and file, as long as the case is filed properly, and if you have all the requisite marital documents at your interview and are able to answer the officer’s questions in a genuine way, then the four-month dating period should not be an issue. Contrast this with dating a year or more, but improperly filing the case and failing to provide the requisite marital documentation to the officer at the interview. This case would likely result in a couple being separated and questioned about the legitimacy of their marriage, as well as long delays in processing. It’s really all about how well the case is filed and how well the couple is prepared.

However, the length of dating time often has more importance for consular officers, when the foreign national spouse is processing abroad through a U.S. consulate, rather than adjusting status in the U.S. There is always a higher risk of denial for all marriage cases, especially those where the couple had not been dating long before marriage. And the tough reality is that a denial at a U.S. consulate can’t be appealed, so the best case must always be prepared and submitted to prove eligibility rather than to risk denial. Let us know if you’d like us to represent you in your residency case.

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