’90 Day Fiancé’: Do Couples Get Paid? The Truth Is Messy

90 Day Fiancé is one of the most interesting reality dating shows currently on television. The show has run for seven seasons on TLC since its premiere in 2014.

The show is extremely popular, and has been spun off into the shows 90 Day Fiancé: Happily Ever After?90 Day Fiancé: Before the 90 Days, and 90 Day Fiancé: The Other Way. The genre of blind matchmaking is extremely popular right now, as shows like Love is Blind, Married at First Sight, and the 90 Day Fiancé series are all extremely popular.

'90 Day Fiancé' producer Matt Sharp (left) and cast members of the reality show
’90 Day Fiancé’ producer Matt Sharp (left) and cast members of the reality show | Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Part of the reason 90 Day Fiancé is unique is the raised stakes that the show offers that others do not. Many of the participants on the show are there for reasons that do not include financial gain, but the question of how participants are compensated is interesting, as well as unfair. 

What is ’90 Day Fiancé?’

90 Day Fiancé follows the ups and downs of two complete strangers who have never met but have the mutual desire to be married. The couple has 90 days to marry, which is the central drama of the show.

A major part of the show is that non-Americans that enter the country and show with the hope and need to marry. This is a need for them as it is a way for them to receive a green card that allows them to become a U.S. citizen.

The show pairs one American citizen with a non-American citizen who is able to enter the country with a K-1 visa. The non-American participant receiving a K-1 visa allows them to stay in the United States for 90 days with the express interest of planning and completing a legal marriage ceremony.

During that time, the show follows the couple to see if the marriage happens, and what happens after the marriage. In spin-offs of the show, the roles are reversed as American citizens travel to a different country with the hope of everlasting love and marriage. There are multiple couples that are featured every season, and some couples have been on the show for more than one season. 

Do couples on the show get paid?

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The question of payment on 90 Day Fiancé is extremely tricky. Reality shows are notoriously cheap productions, both because they can be easily shot and because the cast is made of non-celebrity people who do not demand the same type of payment as high-profile actors.

Participants in the show that do get paid receive about $1000 per episode, which is low even compared to some other reality shows. The main way famous reality stars are able to make actual money is by endorsements and appearances once they are famous.

Still, the amount of money that American participants make on 90 Day Fiancé is better than the no payment their foreign counterparts receive. 

Why do some couples not get paid?

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While most cast members of the show have received at least some payment, several members on the show who were not American citizens received nothing at all. Since they are not taxable citizens of the United States, the participants who are on the show have no avenue to ensure their payment.

According to the show, it would be illegal for them to pay someone without a green card. This puts even more incentive for the non-American cast members to remain in the country. The process of filming for the show lasts for several months, and couples are on camera for most of the day every day. This does not allow them much time to earn money for a living.

Perhaps the chance at true love and the opportunity to live in America is worth it, but the lack of payment for non-Americans seems highly unfair.