I met my boyfriend a few years ago when I lived in NY. Since then, I have moved back to England. I went to visit in September and have decided we want to get married and for me to move to America. We considered the k1 visa but I have been told that because I want to move there in June we I may as well enter on an ESTA and then marry and not leave, applying for adjustment of status and rights to travel and work. Is this right? Is it too risky? I’m confused.
You can, but it’s risky.
When you enter the USA on your ESTA, you’ll be asked the purpose of your visit. You’ll likely say it’s to visit a friend. You’ll be asked how long you’re staying and you’ll say that it’s less than 90 days. You may even show a return air ticket.
But in reality, you know you’re staying longer because you intend to marry and to file an adjustment of status for a marriage green card and that you won’t be flying back on the date you say you would. Thus you are concealing the true intent of your visit from the immigration officer.
The USCIS calls this “preconceived intent” and it’s a major reason why AOS and green cards are denied. See this article here for more info. If you do decide to do this, be sure to get married more than 60 days after you enter — which reduces the presumed intent, but you may still want to hire an immigration lawyer to help guide you through this.