The Process for Marrying a Non-U.S Citizen

If you are a U.S citizen or green card holder looking to marry someone from another country, it'd be best to learn about the requirements and the processes involved. This can help you make informed decisions and avoid mistakes that could affect the entire process. Here is a guide on how to marry a foreigner.

How Long It Takes to Marry a Non-US Citizen

The entire wait time for marrying someone from another country can take between 11 months and 30 months. Your spouse must have a valid visa during the waiting time. After meeting the spousal residency requirement of three years and filing an application, the naturalization process can take about six months.

The process of marrying a non-U.S citizen involves different processes and requires the right documentation. You will have to take an interview and citizenship test to complete the process. It is also worth noting that the marriage green card timeline depends on circumstances like whether you are a green card holder or a U.S citizen and your current location.

If you are a U.S citizen and currently live in the United States, the process can take you about 32 to 52 months. On the other hand, a U.S citizen living abroad can take about 11 to 17 months for a successful marriage to an immigrant. If you are a green card holder living in the U.S, it could take between 28 and 38 months, while a U.S green card holder living abroad may wait for 27 to 46 months.

How Much Does It Cost To Marry A Foreigner?

The cost of marrying a foreigner ranges between $1,280 and $1,760. However, the cost may change based on various factors, such as whether you are in the United States or your spouse is outside the States. You will also need to pay about $200 for a medical exam for a green card.

Remember, there are circumstances where you may need to involve a lawyer to help you. For instance, if you do not understand how obtaining a green card through marriage works, you can't figure out your options, or you cannot deal with the paperwork, you may need to hire a lawyer for legal counsel.

In this case, you will also need to consider the immigration lawyer cost. The cost depends on various factors, such as the type of lawyer you hire, the kind of services you need, and how complicated your case looks. Handling the process alone can be challenging, draining, and time-consuming. This is why an immigration lawyer comes in handy.

The Process for Marrying a Non-U.S Citizen

The process for marrying a non-U.S citizen depends on where you and your spouse live. Below are three different categories that will determine how to marry a foreigner.

1. Both Partners are Present in the United States

If you and your fiancée live in the United States, your future spouse is likely on temporary work or visitor visa. Your fiancée can obtain an immigrant visa or green card and become a lawful resident of the States. This process is called adjustment status. To begin the process, you will first need to get married and register the marriage with the county or state officials where you held your wedding.

The 90-day rule will apply where the USCIS officers will analyze your status and determine if the process followed is fraudulent or credible. If the officials detect fraud, your spouse's green card will be revoked, and their immigration visa application denied. They may also have slimmer chances of obtaining a U.S. visa.

2. Both Partners are Not Present in the United States

If you and your future spouse are not present in the United States yet, you want to get married and remain in the United States. You fill out form l-129F to acquire a K-1 visa. With the finance visa, your future spouse can marry you in the United States and adjust their status to a green card holder. You have to obtain the visa in advance at the consulate or embassy.

Another option is to file Form DS-160 and Form l-130 obtainable from the consular or U. S embassy. You are required to take green card interview questions at the consular or embassy. This process can sometimes be lengthy and does not guarantee a green card upon arrival to the States.

3. You're In the United States, but Your Future Spouse Isn't

You can use two options if you are in the United States and your future spouse isn't:

The first option is getting married abroad, and your partner can apply for a green card at the U.S. embassy or consular where they are. The process is known as consular processing. The two of you will have to file Form l-130 and Form DS-160 at the consular or U.S. embassy and go through the visa application process.

Another option is to let your partner come to the United States on a fiancée or K-1 visa. Once your partner arrives, you can proceed and marry in the United States. After the wedding, your spouse can adjust the visa to permanent residence. To successfully file for a K-1 visa, you must have met your future spouse in person within the last two years. Also, your spouse should ensure that they adjust their status within the first 90 days of arriving in the United States.

Requirements To Marry A Foreigner

Marrying a non-US citizen comes with legal restrictions that you must adhere to depending on your state. Below are the requirements for marrying a foreigner:

  • You are a lawful U.S. citizen living in the States
  • You are a lawful U.S. citizen located outside the States
  • You are a green card holder or permanent resident legally in the States
  • You are a green card holder or permanent resident outside the States
  • Some states do not allow marriages for individuals below 18 years, while others allow if the party has consent from parents. It is imperative to ensure you are eligible to marry a foreigner based on the legal requirements within your state.

Documents Needed To Marry a Non-US Citizen

There are multiple documents required when marrying someone from a foreign country. Here are the documents needed to apply for a green card through marriage:

  • Financial Documents
  • Birth certificate
  • Prior-marriage termination papers, where applicable
  • Current or expired U.S visa
  • Medical examination document
  • Police clearance certificate
  • Proof of lawful entry to the United States
  • Proof of permanent resident

If you do not have all the documents, you can start your application as you look for all the required documents. You may also check out an online immigration lawyer and seek legal guidance about the required documents.

Marriage Visa Fraud: Can I Get Paid to Marry a Foreigner?

Marriage fraud is highly prohibited in the United States. This occurs when a foreigner pays a permanent resident or a U.S. citizen to marry them. If the decision to marry a non-U.S. citizen doesn't follow the legal process, the marriage is fraudulent, and the foreigner is not eligible for a green card.

Marriage fraud is a serious crime that can lead to deportation or even imprisonment. If found guilty of marriage fraud, reach out to an immigration lawyer for marriage for legal counsel on how to navigate the process.

FAQs about Marrying a Non-US Citizen

Do You Automatically Get a Green Card When You Marry a U.S. Citizen?

You don't automatically get a green card when you marry a U.S. citizen. If you currently live in the U.S., it may take about 35-52 months to acquire a marriage green card. You can file Form l-130 ad Form l-485 for processing. If you are outside the United States while your spouse is in the U.S., it can take about 11 to 17 months to get your marriage green card.

How Long Does It Take For a Foreigner to Become a U.S. Citizen through Marriage?

Most people get U.S. citizenship between nine months and two years after obtaining a green card. Once you successfully obtain a green card, you can live for three years as a permanent resident and apply for United States citizenship. If not, the time increases to five years.

However, it is worth noting that the road to obtaining citizenship by marriage can be long. Marriage alone doesn't grant you U.S. citizenship. There are many steps involved with lots of documentation. You also need to be accurate and avoid any delay that could prevent you from getting citizenship.

How Can I Legally Marry Someone from another Country?

It is possible to marry someone from another country legally. But you should be aware of the marriage laws, which vary from country to country. You may need parental consent, affidavits, and proof of marriage eligibility and residency. It'd be best to research the marriage laws of the country you intend to marry from. You should check with your state's attorney general to determine whether your marriage to someone from another country will be legal in the States.

What is the Fastest Way to Marry a Foreigner?

The best way to quicken the process for marrying a non-U.S citizen is generally to marry outside the United States. A k-1 visa is usually the fastest way to marry a foreigner. The process may take between 5 and 10 months. In this case, you can visit your partner's home country and process the application. You will carry out the process at the U.S. embassy or consular office.

Does Marrying an Immigrant Give Them Citizenship?

Marrying an immigrant doesn't automatically give them U.S. citizenship. Whether you have legal immigration status doesn't guarantee citizenship to your partner. But they may be granted U.S. citizenship if they follow the legal processes. The immigrant might be refused entry if they are inadmissible. This could be due to criminal history, immigration violation records, marriage fraud, and underlying medical problems.

How Do International Marriages Work?

International marriages work if the parties follow that country's local civil and religious laws. However, you should note that the U.S. embassy and consulate of the other nation cannot perform the marriage in a foreign country. Marrying in another country can be challenging, time-consuming, and costly. You may need a lot of time to research the requirements of that country, prepare effectively and be patient.

Depending on the country you are marrying from, you may need to take medical and blood tests and seek parental consent. If the country doesn't use your language as the official language, you may need to translate the documents into their official language. Suppose you are a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident of the States and want to marry internationally. In that case, you should also ensure that the United States will recognize your marriage as valid when you return.

Is a Marriage in another Country Valid in the U.S.?

Generally, a marriage that occurred in a foreign country will be considered valid in the United States if it is legal in the country where the wedding occurred. The marriage certificate should clearly show where and when the marriage happened. However, if the marriage directly conflicts the U.S. laws, it may not be recognized as valid.

How an Immigration Lawyer for Marriage Can Help

Because U.S laws are complicated, navigating the process can be challenging, tiring, and time-consuming. So, when looking for legal help and information about how a marriage green card works or how to obtain a work visa, an immigration attorney can be considered. With the help of an experienced attorney, you can get help with H1B visas, like marrying a U.S citizen while on an H1B visa, among other legal help.

Want to learn more about this? UpCounsel can help. Our experienced attorneys will walk you through and help make your American dream come true as much as possible. Contact us today for a free consultation.