Visiting USA for Marriage on non-immigrant visa Faq GC # 9

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Close A foreigner who is already in the U.S. is welcome to marry a U.S. citizen or other person while here. Marriage procedures are set by the state and local governments, and not involved with immigration which is a Federal issue. For example two Canadians fly to Las Vegas, get married, return to Canada. Immigration is not involved. And the marriage is valid worldwide.
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Fiancee or Spouse visa, Which one is right for you?

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I personally did about the same thing. I was living in Hong Kong and engaged to Joyce. I had been an expat (American living outside the USA) for about 15 years by then. My friends and family were scattered all over the world. We decided to get married in Las Vegas, cause flights, food, and rooms in Las Vegas were bargain priced especially 20 years ago, and it would be easy for my family and friends to meet us there for our celebration. Joyce already had a B-2 visitor visa, so we just flew in from Hong Kong, met our friends and family, got licenced, married,
met Elvis, had a short honeymoon then returned to Hong Kong. Immigration was not involved at that time. About 7 years later, when our first child was ready for kindergarten, we then finally applied for a spouse visa for Joyce. She was interviewed and got her visa in Hong Kong, then we all moved back to the USA.

Flying in, getting married, flying out. Is not a problem. Immigration is not involved.

What is more complicated, but possible, is the case when the foreign born spouse wants to remain in the USA without leaving. Who wants to remain permanently in the USA and obtain a green card.

We already know about the fiance visa. The k1 visa anticipates that the foreign born fiance, will marry during her 90 day temporary visit, and then apply for green card and permanent residence without leaving the USA. That is its normal and expected process.

But foreigners who arrive on visa waiver programs, or on work, study or visitor visas are expected to leave after a set period of time. Usually the maximum allowed time of stay is stamped onto their passports when they land.

What can be done in these cases? Must they return overseas and apply for a spouse visa?

In some cases, without leaving it is possible to obtain a green card. In some other cases it’s not so likely, and probable that the new spouse will be required to leave and must obtain a spouse visa before returning.