Your Ultimate Guide to the USCIS “90-Day Rule” (Updated)

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The 90-day rule exists to prevent people from misrepresenting their intentions when entering the United States. Those who enter the country on a temporary visa should be acutely aware of this rule, as failure to comply with it can result in harsh consequences, including a lifetime ban on your right to enter the country.

Ignorance of the 90-day rule can come back to bite you. If planning a trip to the United States on a temporary visa, familiarize yourself with this guide to ensure that you do not fall afoul of the 90-rule. Your future plans could depend on it.

What Is the 90-Day Rule?

The 90-day rule is aimed at ensuring that those who enter the United States on a temporary visa are not abusing the system. Temporary visas are designed to be temporary. However, some people enter the country on a temporary visa with the intention of staying permanently.

Some visas are dual intent. That means the holder of those visas may use them to come to the country while simultaneously taking action to permanently relocate to the United States. However, this is not the case with most temporary visas. The majority of these visas are single intent, which means they can only be used without intent to immigrate.

The 90-day rule states that those who enter the United States on a temporary basis and then marry or apply for a green card in another manner are automatically presumed guilty of misrepresenting their intentions when entering the country.

Who Does the 90-Day Rule Affect or Apply to?

The 90-day rule applies to anyone who enters the United States as a temporary nonimmigrant visa holder, aside from those who have a dual intent visa, such as H or L visas. Anyone who enters the country with this status can run afoul of the 90-day rule if they:

The 90-day rule takes if these actions are taken within 90 days of entering the country. Taking these actions after 90 days will not result in the automatic presumption of a violation. However, even if you take these actions after the 90 days are up, you could still be found to have misrepresented your intent when entering the country.

During your application to remain in the country, a United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officer will investigate your case, and if there is evidence that you came to the country on a temporary visa with the intent of remaining permanently, you could be found in violation even if you waited until 90 days had passed.

30/60 Rule vs. 90-Day Rule

The 90-day rule came into effect in September 2017. Before that, USCIS used a similar rule, known as the 30/60 rule. Under the 30/60 rule, when a person submitted an adjustment of status application within 30 days of entering the United States, they were presumed to have misrepresented their intent with their temporary visa, like with the current 90-day rule.

Then, those who filed between 30 and 60 days were treated with suspicion but not an automatic presumption of a violation. While those who applied after 60 days did not typically draw interest.

Essentially, the 90-day rule is simply a stricter version of the 30/60 rule. The 90-day rule also all but eliminates the possibility of applying for an adjustment of status application for those who come to the country on a 90-day temporary visa. Since they have to leave the country after 90 days, there is no window to apply for a change of status after the 90-day rule expires.

Consequences of Breaking the 90-Day Rule

If you break the 90-day rule and get married or apply for a green card within 90 days of arriving in the U.S. on a temporary visa, the USCIS officer who reviews your application will presume that you entered the country under false pretenses.

This can lead to your green card application getting denied, along with the revocation of your existing visa. In some cases, you may even receive a lifetime ban from reentering the country.

However, while you are presumed to have misrepresented your intent when applying for permanent residency under the 90-day rule, you are allowed to present evidence to the contrary. If you can show that you had no intention to remain in the country when you arrived, you will not suffer any penalty.

Nonimmigrant Intent Explainer

Anyone applying for a single intent temporary visa must provide supporting documentation proving they will return to their country once they have concluded the intent of their visit. Failure to prove nonimmigrant intent will result in the denial of your visa application.

Proving Nonimmigrant Intent in a Visa Interview

To prove nonimmigrant intent, you must show the interviewing officer that you have significant ties to your home country, which will pull you back. This can be displayed by showing that you:

  • Have a job to which you will need to return
  • Own property or have a continuing rental contract
  • Have significant familial connections at home
  • Have dependants at home
  • Have other financial investments that keep you tied to the country

90-Day Rule Exceptions

Immediate family members of U.S. citizens are partially exempt from the 90-day rule. Instead, these visa holders must follow the 30/60 rule. This means that they can wait less time to apply for a change of status after entering the country on a temporary visa.

Single Intent vs. Dual Intent

Single intent visas do not generally allow holders to apply for a change of status. They are there with the single intent of visiting the country temporarily for the purposes noted in the type of visa they have acquired.

Meanwhile, dual intent visas allow people to come to the country with nonimmigrant or immigrant intent. Dual intent visa holders do not have to be concerned with the 90-day rule.

Visa Fraud Could Land You a Lifetime Ban

Lying about your intentions can lead to a lifetime ban from entering the U.S. It is always in your best interest, to be honest with immigration officers about your intentions.

How to Comply With the 90-Day Rule

The 90-day rule does not make getting married in the U.S. within 90 days while on a single intent temporary visa illegal. However, lying to a border official to get into the country is against the law. If you end up getting married unexpectedly, the best way to avoid problems is to wait until 90 days have passed before applying for a change of status.

Alternatively, you can leave the country when your visa expires and then apply for a green card or dual intent visa.

What Happens to Recent Entries?

The 90-day clock begins on your most recent entry into the country. If you leave the U.S. and come back, the clock will restart from the day you last crossed the border.

Use an Immigration Services Company to File Your Adjustment of Status Application

At ImmigrationDirect, we have helped countless people apply to adjust their status to become permanent residents after coming to the U.S. on a temporary visa. Talk to an immigration lawyer to ensure you won’t have a problem with the 90-day rule, then get help filling out your application with ImmigrationDirect.

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