Three Things An American Citizen Should Know About Marrying A Foreign National


If you are an American citizen and are planning to marry a foreigner, there are certain things you should know because there are many misunderstandings about how the process works. The following are just a few things that you may not be aware of.

Your spouse must be in the country legally

It is a common misconception that if an American citizen marries a person who is in the country illegally, this person automatically becomes a legal resident and can then obtain a green card. This idea comes from movies, at least older movies because at one time this was true. However, the law was changed years ago. Now, if you want to marry someone who is here illegally, they must first leave the country and enter legally. There is sometimes an exception given to someone who entered legally on a visa, such as a work visa or a student visa, but their visa has expired. A lawyer should look at the specifics of your case.

Your spouse's children may be eligible for legal residence

If you are marrying a man or women and he or she has one or more children in another country, you may be able to bring them to the United States. This is true regardless of whether they are your biological children or your stepchildren. However, they must be unmarried and under the age of 21. If this is true, they will likely be eligible for green cards in the same time frame as your spouse will be for a green card. Children who are married or over the age of 21 may still be eligible for legal residence in the United States, but the process takes a lot longer.

Your spouse can apply for citizenship faster

One of the fastest paths to citizenship is for a legal resident to marry an American citizen. For most legal residents, either single or married to another legal resident, the normal wait time is at least five years. But because you are an American citizen, your spouse will only need to wait three years before applying.

The above information is important to know about marrying a foreign national, but you should never pursue a marriage without first consulting with an attorney. Even those things you knew to be true in the past may not be true anymore. Laws regarding Americans marrying non-citizens change periodically, and you can only be sure of the current laws by seeking legal advice from a family law professional.


11 September 2018