If you were a tourist and after your entry you somehow immediately found the love of your life and decided to get married and stay in America permanently, you need to be careful about when you do apply for the green card. The reason? If you try to adjust your status too soon by applying for a green card shortly after entering America, your application WILL be denied. Why? Because you entered on a tourist visa, you shouldn’t have had intentions to abandon your life back in your home country and begin a new life here on such a hastily made decision. Therefore, it is important that you wait significant time before applying for green card, no matter how urgent you feel you need to start.
The worst case for B-2 tourist visas to apply for green card is within 30 days of entry. This is a guaranteed denial because it makes no sense to the USCIS that someone who had original intentions of visiting America temporarily all of a sudden decided to immigrate permanently to the USA. The B-2 tourist would be classified as having preconceived immigration intentions on entering America on a tourist visa and therefore will be his/her green card application will be ultimately denied.
What about within 60 days? Well, if you try to adjust status to green card within 60 days, you will be classified with strong suspicion of preconceived immigration intentions and it is up to the USCIS officer’s discretion on whether or not to approve or deny your green card application based on your specific situation. This is a 50/50 chance and you can try if you feel lucky and also urgent that you MUST get your green card now. But most likely you should not risk this because applying for a green card is costly and also a denial will count against you for future immigration applications.
For some reason, the magic number is after 90 days. After 90 days in America, it seems that USCIS is satisfied that you have thought it through and that America is so attractive as a place to live that you slowly had the intention of immigrating permanently to the USA. This shouldn’t be hard either because a B-2 visa entry is valid for 6 months or 180 days. Of course if you entered on a visa waiver program, you will be overstaying on your tourist visa, which is actually OK because if you filed, you will be in a limbo Adjustment of Status pending status, which is actually a legal status to remain in America. Not only that, during the pending status, you can also receive a EAD card to work in America. Overstaying is not so bad, check out my article about this very topic. Generally USCIS is forigiving on marriage based green cards if the immigrating alien had overstayed on their visa, provided they did not do anything terribly illegal.
Therefore, remember, before you file that I-130, I-485 and other forms, makes sure you count your days since your entry. Filing too early will not only cause your application to be denied, you will lose thousands of dollars on application fees and the worst consequence is that this denial will look unfavorably on your future immigration applications. You will have to disclose that you had a denial and they will look at your application carefully and suspect every part of your application. Don’t even think about hiding a previous denial as they WILL find out. Love takes time, so should your immigration application. Wait 90 or more days before applying for AOS!