Love knows no boundaries. People are free to choose who they love regardless of gender, race, or culture. Today, people are free to marry someone outside their nationality, and it is becoming uncommon to see couples from different countries marry and form families in one of their countries.
For countries like the United States, however, there’s more to marriage involved than just true love. When an American marries a foreigner, that foreigner is entitled to US citizenship. While it seems reasonable enough to have the right to live with their spouse, unfortunately, this instant right to US citizenship has been commonly abused by people looking for a fast way to get into the country. Many foreigners want to earn their way towards a visa or a green card, and marriage to an American (even one they just met) is the fastest solution.
To address this, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has imposed strict rules and processes to prove that it is a marriage between two people who genuinely wanted to be together. Aside from polygamous marriages (which may be legal in other countries, but not in the US), civil unions (i.e. two people living together but not married; it’s different from civil marriages), and unconsummated proxy marriages, marriages where the foreigner obviously married the US citizen just to bypass the proper immigration process is not legal.
Same-sex marriages are legal, as are marriages to transgendered people, but only if the country where they got married recognizes these marriages, too.
So, if you and your foreign spouse want to return to the United States as a married couple, here’s what you need to do.
Seek Legal Assistance:
According to a Portland, OR immigration lawyer, there are multiple steps before your foreign spouse can earn a green card. Legally, you don’t need to seek legal assistance, but given the rigorous process, it is best to have professionals who understand what you and your spouse need to do to pass.
Complete the Initial Paperwork:
First, your spouse will have to apply to the USCIS; this is where your documents will come in handy. Your spouse will need to have documents such as your marriage certificate, birth certificate, passport, medical exam, and other proof of identity and documents. If you or your spouse have been divorced or widowed, you will need to provide these documents to prove that both of you can legally marry.
Next, there are multiple forms your spouse will need to fill out. While your spouse is filing paperwork, it is your responsibility as the US citizen in the relationship to be financially stable to sponsor your spouse’s stay in the US. Otherwise, you will have to find someone else (maybe a family member or a close friend who is also a US citizen) willing to sign as a co-sponsor. After completing all the necessary paperwork, you and your spouse must submit this to the USCIS. Around a month after filing, the USCIS will take your fingerprints. Within eight to ten months, you may be asked to submit more documents before you and your spouse is called to have a marriage-based interview.
If you have legal assistance, your attorney will be present during the interview. Otherwise, it will just be you, your spouse, and the interviewer from the USCIS. The interview will prove whether or not you and your spouse married to be together or if you married just so your spouse can enter the US and gain citizenship easily.
The interviewer will go through your relationship, asking details such as how it started, how you met, what the wedding was like, and whether you’ve met each other’s’ family. The interviewer may also ask for intimate details such as you and your spouse’s sexual history. If the interviewer finds significant discrepancies, they may separate both of you and then ask the same questions to see if it matches.
The USCIS is known to be very thorough in these types of interviews. A foreigner that simply married for a green card will be unable to pass this test. If you and your spouse genuinely love each other and married for the right reasons, you should know enough about them to pass with flying colors and prove your marriage is valid.
Once the USCIS receives all the necessary documents and validates your marriage, then your spouse should have no problem getting their green card. Your spouse will then need to take the Oath of Allegiance, which makes them a naturalized citizen of the United States.
In case the marriage doesn’t work out, the time of your divorce may affect the status of your spouse. If your spouse received their green card and was made into a lawful permanent resident, what happens to your marriage afterward will not affect their citizenship.
Your marriage may be the product of true love, but it must still follow the legal requirements if you and your spouse want to establish permanent residence in your home country. If you are willing to wait for the long process and are certain your marriage was made with genuine affection from both you and your spouse, there should be no problem proving your marriage’s validity.