Not Sure to Marry My Fiancee Before or After Naturalization. Help!

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Note: The Law Offices of Larry L. Doan in Los Angeles, CA, provides the following blog article and other information on this site, including our responses to comments, for the purpose of legal information only; it is NOT legal advice nor does it create an attorney-client relationship.

[The following paid consultation question is taken from the Guru’s past client files.]

I am a permanent resident and am going to apply for a US citizenship within a week. My fiancee from Mexico and I are talking about our marriage this year. But I wonder whether we should get married before or after I convert my nationality to a US citizen. Is it better to get married before my naturalization? She came here with a B1/B2 visa with I-94 four months ago and has to renew her I-94 every 6 months to stay in California.  I’ve sent you separately details about my naturalization case.


First of all, someone with a B-1/B-2 tourist visa can only request one extension to stay here for an additional six months, it’s not something to renew every six months (a person simply can’t be a tourist for years and years in the US).  Also, your fiancee must have good reasons why she wants to stay here longer as a tourist before the extension will be granted.  As long as she files for extension before the date her current stay expires on her I-94 (which should be in about two months), she will be allowed to stay here pending a decision on the extension.  Since you’re here in the Los Angeles area, it’s currently taking California Service Center about 2 ½ months on average to reach a decision.

As far as timing of the marriage, you can do it before or after your naturalization has been approved based on the information you’ve shared.  It should be after her tourist extension application (Form I-539) has been filed, to prevent USCIS from denying the extension on the grounds that she has a husband who has a green card and so she’ll likely have immigrant intent to stay permanently in the US.  If you do that and file an I-130 for your wife immediately, still before your naturalization case is approved, there will be no visa number available for a few years for her because the I-130 will be under the F2A category, which has only a limited number of visas each year.  Filing the I-130 for her will only be a preliminary step; she still would have to wait a few years before being eligible for a green card.  That would be the situation if you don’t become a citizen quickly enough.  However, as soon as you become a citizen, the I-130 is automatically converted to that for an immediate relative and she’ll be able to file for green card right away if she’s still in the US.  From what you sent me before, your naturalization case (Form N-400) will probably be approved within about five months from now here in L.A. since it looks pretty routine.  You don’t seem to have difficult issues such as criminal arrests or convictions, or other issues that could drag the case out for more than the expected time until approval.  So, yes, under these circumstances, you can marry after her own I-539 is filed and file an I-130 for her because five months from now, it appears fairly certain you will become a US citizen (Note:  this is an average time as currently being reported by USCIS, each case may take slightly longer or shorter).

You also asked what if for some reason your citizenship is delayed and takes a lot longer to be approved, say a year and half from now.  In that case, your wife, even after receiving an extension of her tourist status for six months, may be running up against the end of her allowed stay while your own case is still waiting for a decision.  However, she could stay here and even be out of status and wait for a favorable decision on your case, then file for green card.  Is there a risk for her being out of status?  Yes, but there’s only a slight risk since immigration officials are not likely, during current immigration climate, to send notice of deportation proceedings to her for being only a short time out of status.

You can, of course, delay the marriage until after your naturalization is approved.  That would seem to be about five months from now, as stated above, if your case is smooth.  But even if it’s not smooth, and takes a year and half to get approved, and assuming she will even be out of status, you could still marry her after your naturalization has been approved, and she’ll be able to get her green card here.


Larry L. Doan, Esq.


Copyright © 2014 Law Offices of Larry L. Doan

Any action you take or rely upon after reading the information on this blog is your own responsibility and the Law Offices of Larry L. Doan bears no responsibility or connection to such action. For an analysis of your detailed and specific questions related to your individual immigration situation or problem, there is no substitute for a “live” meeting with an attorney. This can only be done during a paid consultation between the Law Offices of Larry L. Doan and you.  To get started with a consultation, please contact us:


5 Responses to “Not Sure to Marry My Fiancee Before or After Naturalization. Help!”

  1. Comments or questions related to the blog post you’ve just read can be left in the “Leave a Reply” box below. HOWEVER: All comments or questions regarding your or family member’s immigration situation and seeking info or advice on what to do next will be ignored unless you contact us for a paid consultation here: By doing so, please expect a quote for the price of the consultation with the Guru, Attorney Doan.

    We must implement this policy due to the volume of inquiries and emails received from this blog. We can only respond in the comments section below to general questions that seek clarification of a point made in the blog post above in a general way.


  2. Sherilyn Daub Says:

    Thoughtful blog post , I was enlightened by the details . Does someone know where my business could get ahold of a fillable 2011 USCIS Form I-485 document to work with ?


    • You can always get the latest forms of course at Although, the latest version of the I-485 is 6/20/13, not sure why you would want the 2011 version unless you’re trying to duplicate the filled out and submitted form of an existing case. Archived older versions of these forms are at some site somewhere if you google it.


  3. olaibi kemi Says:

    It’s a long story but I will try and make it short. I applied for an M1 visa in my home country but instead issued an F1 visa. I traveled to the US but I could not resume class because of my F1 visa which was supposed to be M1. Due to stress, few weeks later I fell sick(ill) and I was rushed to the hospital (emergency) only to be told that I was 30weeks pregnant. I had to stay back in the US cos I had a friend who accommodated me and showed me care. I had my baby and I came back to my home country as soon as I could. I stayed 200 days in the US. On return, my school sent me a new I-20 and a letter informing of the need for me to get an M1 visa at the embassy. I applied for a new visa but was denied and got my previous visa cancelled without prejudice. Please what can I do?


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