The majority of visas that the United States offers on a temporary basis are “single intent” visas. This means that the individual who is applying for this visa has non-immigrant intent. Essentially, the individual applies for a single intent visa for a single purpose, such as tourism or study. Once this purpose ends, the single intent visa assumes the individual plans to leave the United States.
However, things do not always work out this smoothly. For instance, it is possible for an individual to enter the United States on a study visa and decide to marry an American citizen. Whether or not these individuals can change their mind on single-intent visas and marry their American partners depends on the 90-day rule.
What is the 90 day rule?
The confusing part about the 90-day rule is that it is not a hard-and-fast law. The gist of the 90-day rule is that if a temporary visa holder of any sort tries to marry an American citizen or apply for a Green Card within the first 90 days of arriving in the United States, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) assume that the individual entered the US under fraudulent terms. In other words, USCIS will assume the individual lied in order to obtain a visa.
Is it possible to convince USCIS of genuine intent?
It is still possible in certain circumstances to convince a USCIS officer that your original intentions were genuine, but this is very difficult. Since September 2017, immigration officers have gone from the 30/60 day rule to the 90-day rule. Largely, this prohibits persons visiting the US on the ESTA visa waiver from attempting to change their immigration status while in the country.