Strict Rules All 90 Day Fiance Stars Have To Follow

TLC's 90 Day Fiancé is chock-full of drama. As fans well know, all sorts of shenanigans take place as American citizens go through the process of preparing to marry their immigrant fiancés through a K-1 fiancé visa. Considering just how often the couples make headlines, it seems like they do whatever they want, but that couldn't be further from the truth. Stars of 90 Day Fiancé are expected to adhere to quite a few rules in order to be on the show.

While some of the rules that 90 Day Fiancé stars have to follow are common sense, others may surprise you. In fact, some of the rules are even downright restrictive. Yet and still, it seems that the show's stars are more than happy to put up with these regulations in order to have the opportunity to star on 90 Day Fiancé. Here are some of the surprisingly strict rules all the stars of 90 Day Fiancé have to follow.

All 90 Day Fiance stars have to foot their legal bills

While you might think that appearing on 90 Day Fiancé would make the whole immigration process easier, the show has absolutely nothing to do with the actual visa process. Executive producer Matt Sharp told Deadline"We're not involved in the immigration process." Instead, he explained, they "find couples for the show that are already in the process" on their own.

All couples appearing on the show must handle the legal end of things themselves — and the process is far from an easy one. As noted by immigration company Boundless, filing for a K-1 fiancé visa requires a lot of paperwork as well as several fees totaling more than $2,000. It also takes an average of seven months for the paperwork to be approved, which means that 90 Day Fiancé stars have already put in a lot of work for their relationships before they ever even appear on the show.

Half of all 90 Day Fiance stars agree to be on the show for free

While you'd think that couples on 90 Day Fiancé are compensated well for appearing on the show, they pretty much get paid peanuts. To make matters even worse, money can only go to the half of the couple that is a citizen of the United States. The immigrant in the relationship can't accept money since, as they are in the country on a fiancé visa and aren't considered permanent residents yet, they are not eligible to work.

As 90 Day Fiancé blogger John Yates told Newsweek, the stars of 90 Day Fiancé reportedly make $1,000 per episode. That wouldn't be a lot of money even if both partners were taking home a thousand bucks, but it's especially paltry when you remember that half of the couple is basically volunteering.

The couples appearing on 90 Day Fiancé aren't doing it for the money, of course, but instead want to share their journeys with others. Some of them are also no doubt after the publicity boost that comes with being on the show. This is reality TV, after all.

Couples on 90 Day Fiance have to be willing to follow a script

Even though 90 Day Fiancé is a reality show, not everything on the show is exactly improvised. While 90 Day Fiancé stars don't have to be professional actors, they do have to be okay with scripted scenes. It's no secret that reality shows are often edited for dramatic effect, but on 90 Day Fiancé that apparently means re-filming a scene if deemed necessary.

One especially uncomfortable moment on the show involved David Toborowsky's best friend, Chris Thieneman, asking David's fiancée Nikki Cooper for massages as payment for giving the couple a place to stay. Cooper later revealed on a Facebook fan page (via In Touch Weekly) that the entire scene was scripted and that her hubby even had to repeat the line a few times "because it didn't come off as natural." Toborowsky said that he wasn't comfortable with the scene but "let a little peer pressure set in" because he "wanted to be a team player."

Stars of 90 Day Fiance have to pass a background check

Not just anyone can appear on 90 Day Fiancé. In order to be eligible to be on the show, all couples must go through a thorough background check. Paul Staehle, who appeared on 90 Day Fiancé: Before the 90 Days, revealed that the network does background checks on all its stars and even conducts their own investigations into a person's past. "TLC especially takes that very seriously," Staehle said in a Facebook Live (via In Touch Weekly).

One would-be 90 Day Fiancé star, whose name was only revealed as Holly, said on an episode of Dr. Phil that she and her fiancé were set to appear on the show but their appearance was cancelled after four days of filming, when reportedly his background check didn't turn up clean.

While background checks are often used by employers to weed out people who have a criminal record, it seems 90 Day Fiancé does let some things slide; the stars need not have squeaky clean pasts. As executive producer Matt Sharp said on Reality Life with Kate Casey (via E! News), they "try to be open-minded" because "everyone's got some sort of history."

The couples on 90 Day Fiance have to be in established relationships before applying for the show

While it would be easy to assume that the 90 Day Fiancé couples are thrown together through casting calls, all the couples you see on the show are the real deal. The show doesn't look for couples who are dating and offer them the chance to be on the show if they get engaged either. Executive producer Matt Sharp assured Deadline that 90 Day Fiancé only puts couples on the show who are in genuine, established relationships and that everyone who appears on the show "found themselves organically." They don't entirely rely on outside submission for casting; Sharp said that he finds prospective 90 Day Fiancé stars through immigration attorneys.

Couples appearing on 90 Day Fiancé also have to be in a bona fide relationship because of the law. As noted by Boundless, the couple has to be able to prove the authenticity of their relationship through evidence such as photos, correspondence, and even affidavits from friends and family members who can attest that the couples are in a true relationship. In most cases, couples must have also met in person at least once in the two years before applying for a K-1 fiancé visa.

Stars of 90 Day Fiance have to sign non-disclosure agreements

When appearing on a reality show, it's pretty standard for stars to sign a non-disclosure agreement, or NDA, and 90 Day Fiancé is no exception to this rule. In fact, 90 Day Fiancé stars have gotten into trouble in the past for violating their NDAs.

In 2019, Paul and Karine Staehle announced the birth of their son, Pierre Martins Staehle, on Instagram, but it seems they were forced to take it down. Paul revealed in an Instagram Story (via Newsweek) that he'd violated his NDA and had "been instructed to remove updates and no longer post."

That same year, 90 Day Fiancé Ashley Martson also took to her Instagram Story (via In Touch Weekly) to reveal that she and her husband Jay Smith, were still together despite news reports to the contrary. Martson revealed that the network made the couple act as if their marriage "was no longer active," and that breaking the NDA to put the rumors to rest meant that she would not "be paid a dime for future shows."

The stars of 90 Day Fiance must allow the show to freely edit footage

When couples sign up to star on 90 Day Fiancé, they pretty much sign away their rights to how they are portrayed. Footage from the show is typically edited to create the maximum amount of drama and entertainment for good TV. This has led to some disgruntled stars, such as Larissa Dos Santos Lima who lashed out on Instagram (via In Touch Weekly), alleging that she was unfairly portrayed as a "gold digger" on the show and that much of her story was "fabricated merely for ratings purposes."

If couples don't like how they're portrayed on 90 Day Fiancé, though, they're pretty much stuck thanks to an ironclad contract. Mark and Nikki Shoemaker attempted to sue TLC in 2017 because they didn't like how their relationship was spun on 90 Day Fiancé, but had no luck. As noted by Starcasm, the case was thrown out as the judge ruled that the Shoemakers had signed a contract, thus allowing the show's producers to edit the footage however they saw fit.

Stars of 90 Day Fiance have to be of legal marriage age

Legal website Nolo noted that in order to apply for a K-1 fiancé visa, there can be no legal impediments to a couple getting married. In the United States, that would mean each partner has to be at least 18 years old or have parental consent. A casting call for 90 Day Fiancé doesn't specify a minimum age to apply to appear on the show, but it seems that a requirement that cast members be at least 18 years of age is firmly in place.

The youngest 90 Day Fiancé stars have been in their teens, but were still of legal marriage age.  Despite an uncomfortable age gap between her and her partner, Nikki Shoemaker was indeed 18 when she appeared in Season 3, as was Evelyn Cormier when she appeared on Season 5. Cormier's appearance later caused some controversy as her fiancé, David Vázquez Zermeño, allegedly started contacting her on Instagram when she was as young as 15, per In Touch Weekly. While there was no proof that anything inappropriate happened, the concern over minors being taken advantage of is a good reason for the unspoken rule that 90 Day Fiancé stars be of legal marriage age.

Couples on 90 Day Fiance have to let the cameras roll most of the time

The price of fame is usually quite high. For the stars of 90 Day Fiancé, that means having to trade in their privacy. The cameras are rolling almost constantly throughout the couples' 90-day journeys. While 90 Day Fiancé stars haven't said they're required to have the cameras rolling most of the time, past stars have dished about the filming schedule. 

One 90 Day Fiancé star, Jesse Meester, revealed on the podcast Reality Life with Kate Casey (via E! News) that filming lasted sometimes as long as 12 hours a day. While the process of filming 90 Day Fiancé is grueling, it seems that the crew does a good job of blending in to the background. Another star, Molly Hopkins, told The Wrap that she didn't even notice the cameras following her around. "You're really living your life and really going through the motions," she said.

The women on 90 Day Fiance have to sit this way

One of the strangest rules that 90 Day Fiancé stars have to put up with seems to only apply to the women. Viewers of the show over the years have noticed that the women tend to sit a certain way on camera — and it's no coincidence. In the comments of an Instagram post from 90 Day Fiancé star Anfisa Arkhipchenko (via In Touch Weekly), a fan asked why Arkhipchenko was always shown sitting with her legs elevated during her confessionals.

Arkhipchenko said that the "producers make all women on the show sit like this," although she didn't divulge the reason behind the strange requirement. The 90 Day Fiancé star added that she found the position uncomfortable, saying "I hate it." In Touch Weekly noted that many of the women who've appeared on 90 Day Fiancé over the years did indeed sit in this position during the confessionals, but we're all still left scratching our heads wondering why.