The 90-day rule states that if you are in the U.S. temporarily and try to apply for permanent status for any reason within 90 days, the government will presume you misrepresented the original intention of your visit.
Those in the U.S. on a temporary, non-immigrant visa are allowed to apply for permanent residency, also known as a Green Card, if they wish. However, trying to do so within 90 days could lead to denial and even expulsion. Here is the complete guide you need to understand the 90-day rule.
What Is the 90-Day Rule?
The 90-day “countdown” begins on the day of your most recent entry into the U.S. It applies to people who enter the United States for:
When applying for their visas, these individuals stated that they intended to stay in the U.S. temporarily and then go back home. If they make any move to alter their status—for example, by applying for a Green Card or getting married—within 90 days, the U.S. government assumes:
- They misrepresented their intentions in order to get their temporary visa.
- They always planned to stay in the U.S. permanently.
- Because of their immigrant intent, they have committed visa fraud and should not be allowed to stay in the U.S.
As discussed below, there are exceptions to the 90-day rule. An immigration lawyer near you can explain these exceptions and help you look for a way to stay in the U.S.
For a free legal consultation, call (623) 742-5400
Adjudicating the 90-Day Rule
Whenever someone tries to change their status from temporary to permanent, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) must decide whether to grant or deny the request.
The 90-day rule is one measure that USCIS uses to determine whether to grant an applicant’s petition. A violation of the rule means they automatically assume you misrepresented or lied when seeking a temporary visa, which makes it less likely that they will grant your request. You can, however, try to prove your good intentions by:
- Promptly reporting your change in plans—any delay could look suspicious
- Answering the USCIS agent’s questions to the best of your ability
- Collecting evidence that proves your case—for example, if you already bought a plane ticket back to your home country, this can show you had every intention of going home before circumstances derailed your plans
Other factors USCIS will consider include:
- Whether you have evidence to show you requested a temporary visa in good faith
- Whether you have evidence to show you have a good reason for violating the 90-day rule
- If you lied or appeared to have lied to gain the temporary visa or the status adjustment
It is important to note that hiring an immigration lawyer is not a sign or admission of guilt. You need to know that you have every right to seek legal counsel to guide you through the immigration system, search for evidence, and complete the appropriate paperwork.
Consequences of Violating the 90-Day Rule
Since violating the 90-day rule means that USCIS assumes you are guilty until proven innocent, there is every chance that you could face the following consequences:
- Your request for permanent residence may be denied.
- Your temporary visa may be revoked, and you would have to go home immediately.
- You may have a much more difficult time ever trying to return to the U.S. in the future.
If USCIS denies your application, you have the right to appeal. If you have not already hired an immigration lawyer by this point, now would be an excellent time to do so.
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Reasons for Requesting a Status Change
There are many valid reasons why a temporary resident might wish to stay longer and/or become a permanent resident. Some common reasons include:
- Wanting to marry a U.S. citizen
- Receiving an offer of long-term employment in the U.S.
- Falling ill and needing to stay in the U.S. to get medical care or needing to care for a sick loved one
- Learning of changes in their home country (e.g., a new government or policy) that could put them in physical danger if they return
While U.S. law makes provisions for individuals facing these situations, the system does not make it easy to change status. Even a minor mistake could delay the process or even put your application at risk.
It is an immigration lawyer’s job to work with clients and do everything possible to help them stay where they are safe or needed. The sooner you consult an attorney, the more they may be able to do to assist you in navigating the 90-day rule and other challenges.
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Navigating the 90-Day Rule With Legal Help
New Frontier Immigration Law is a family-based immigration law firm devoted to helping individuals reunite with family in the U.S. Call us today to learn more about what you need to know about the 90-day rule and how the information in this complete guide applies to your case specifically.
Call or text (623) 742-5400 or complete a Free Case Evaluation form