30/60 day rule

30/60 Day Rule: Suspicion Of Your Intentions Upon US Entry

Entering the US on a non-immigrant visa and adjusting your status can trigger the “30/60 day rule” at the time of interview. This rule is used by immigration officers to determine what your initial intentions were during the visa application at the US consulate.

In this case, USCIS becomes suspicious of your intentions when you first applied for the nonimmigrant visa and will question whether you intended to stay in the US all along. This can result in a finding of willful misrepresentation and ultimately inadmissible.

Proving what you “intended” to do can be difficult but as long as you weren’t trying to bypass the legal immigration process, you should be fine. Here are some common situations where the 30/60 day rule applies:

  • You came to the US on a B2 tourist visa, but you really intended to get a job and work instead.
  • You came on an F1 student visa but then got married and adjusted your status

USCIS will review your case closely and try to figure out what your true intentions were when you entered the US. It’s always best to be honest to all US government officials if you want to continue to visit and working in the US.

Did You Intend To Violate Rules Of Your Visa?

The first thing that USCIS will look at is what you did soon after arriving in the US. If you quickly got married to a US citizen a few weeks after your arrival on a non-immigrant visa, this is a huge red flag.

US consulates abroad do their due diligence before issuing a non-immigrant visa. This is to weed out applicants that are trying to commit immigration fraud but sometimes they don’t catch everyone. If you truly intended to temporarily visit the US but have fallen in love with an American, it’s okay to get married but know that the time frame matters.

The quicker you change your status from non-immigrant to immigrant, the more suspicion will raised. This shouldn’t be a problem for those who can prove they truly didn’t intend to stay in the US permanently. Of course, life circumstances can change and USCIS understands this and that’s why they give you the opportunity to prove your innocence before they deny you.

Many immigrants face questions from immigration officers such as:

“Oh, you arrived on a student visa and married a US citizen? You must have intended to marry before you entered the US therefore violating the terms of your visa”

Being accused of willful misrepresentation and fraud by immigration authorities is very serious. It not only results in a denial of your adjustment application but may cause you to be barred from the US for 3 to 10 years.

How The 30/60 Day Rule Can Prove Your Intentions

The 30/60 day rule can be found in the Foreign Affairs Manual of the Department of State. Consular officers use this manual as a guide to help them determine the final outcome of the interview.

The rule is used to confirm if the immigrant violated the terms of their visa and planned to stay in the US.

According to the Department of State’s website, this is how the rule is implemented.

If an alien violates his or her nonimmigrant status . . . within 30 days of entry, you may presume that the applicant misrepresented his or her intention in seeking a visa or entry. If an alien initiates such violation of status more than 30 days but less than 60 days after entry into the United States, no presumption of misrepresentation arises. However, if the facts in the case give you reasonable belief that the alien misrepresented his or her intent, then you must give the alien the opportunity to present countervailing evidence.

So, does this mean that if you wait more than 30 days to violate the terms it’s okay? No, but the longer you wait the more it looks like a spontaneous event rather than a something that was planned. Trust me, consulate officers have seen it all and can tell when someone had other motives other than what was claimed.

Even if you had a change of heart – came on a tourist visa and fell in love with an American and decided to get married 2 weeks later – you’ll have a hard time when you try to adjust your status to get a green card.

The immigration officer will automatically assume that you intended to adjust your status when you applied for the tourist visa.

Visa types that fall under the 30/60 day rule:

  • Visa types that fall under the 30/60 day rule:
  • B1/B2 – visitors to the US (business or personal)
  • F1 – student attending US college/university
  • J1 – exchange students attending school
  • Q – cultural exchange visitors
  • TN – NAFTA professional workers
  • E3 – special occupations

Visa types that are exempt from the 30/60 day rule:

  • H1b – skilled foreign workers
  • L1 – inter-company transfers
  • V – family of US citizens/green card holders
  • K1 – fiance of US citizens

Waiting 60 Days To Avoid Suspicion Of Immigration Fraud

Will you be completely safe by waiting 60 days to change your status? No. Immigration officers have the final say in determining whether any applicant has immigrant intent no matter how long they waited. If there is a “reasonable belief” that you intended to adjust your status once you arrived in the US on a nonimmigrant visa, you’ll be found to have misrepresented your intentions.

In a marriage based adjustment of status:

Let’s say that you arrived on a tourist visa and have met the love of your life in California. You date for a few weeks and then decide to elope and get married in Vegas. You then realize that you’ll need to file for adjustment of status with form I-485 and the petition is approved and you’re given an interview date.

During your interview, they ask you about your relationship and proof of bona fide marriage. You accidentally slip up and say that you brought a gift that your mother gave you for your wedding with you when you first arrived as she could not be there for the wedding. This results in the immigration officer denying your adjustment of status due to misrepresentation and fraud.

Even if you waited 60 days in this situation, it won’t help because you already had immigrant intent before you arrived in the US.

In most cases, adjusting status after 60 days won’t get you in trouble as long as there is no evidence that you intended to marry as soon as you arrived. If enough evidence is there, you’ll have an uphill battle to prove your innocence.

Final Thoughts On The 30/60 Day Rule

When it comes to adjusting your status in the US from a nonimmigrant visa to a green card, it’s important to be familiar with this rule. Changing your status within 30 days of arriving in the US risks being charged with misrepresentation and fraud.

  • Violations within 30 days:
    • The immigration officer will assume you willfully misrepresentation yourself and your application to adjust status will be denied. Unless you have a huge amount of evidence showing that you never intended to stay and adjust your status, it’ll be very difficult to fight this finding.
  • Violations after 30 days but before 60 days:
    • The immigration officer will not automatically assume you willfully misrepresented yourself but it will depend on the facts of your case. If the officer does have evidence that you intended to violate your visa at the time of entry, they are required to allow you prove otherwise. This is great if you can truly show that you had no intentions to adjust status upon arrival.
  • Violations after 60 days:
    • Immigration officers don’t consider violations after 60 days to be willful misrepresentation and you should be fine when adjusting your status.

As you can see, there is a lot of leeway that immigration officers have when making a determination. The 30/60 day rule is not so much a concrete “yes or no” type of rule but more of a guiding principle. If you are unsure whether your actions before or after entry into the US would be considered willful misrepresentation, review the details from an immigration officers point of view.

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