Love between an American and a non-U.S. citizen has been written about and enjoyed by many for years. With increased globalization of the world, the are vast opportunities for Americans to meet and fall in love with non-U.S. citizens who are either living in the United States temporarily or who they met while abroad.
If you are a U.S. citizen interested in marrying a non-U.S. citizen, there are considerations and requirements, especially those regarding family law, that must be considered and satisfied before you can say “I do,” and before your partner may be legally allowed to remain in the United States as your spouse.
Marriage within the United States
Prenuptial Agreements: Before marriage, sponsors who are looking to bring their foreign spouses to the United States should first consider any financial disparities between one another. If possible, a prenuptial agreement should be discussed at the outset of a marriage to protect financial interests, but also to outline specific requirements such as the citizenship of any future children and where they should receive their education. Even if a prenuptial agreement has been signed between a couple, a sponsor may not be completely off the hook for any future liabilities that may result from the dissolution of the marriage.
Green Cards: The foreign spouse of a marriage that is two years old or less may receive conditional permanent residence allowing for him or her to remain in the country with his or her sponsor (the American spouse). The couple, after the marriage has lasted for two years, will be under the microscope to ensure that the marriage is still functioning and that there is no fraudulent activity. Permanent status via a green card is given if the couple satisfies all the requirements and have been evaluated by officials. Those who fail must return to their countries of origin.
It is important to remember that a foreign spouse needs to file to remove the temporary residence status, because once the temporary green card expires, the spouse will be considered illegally in the country. Living with an expired temporary green card for more than six months will put a three-year no-entry bar on the foreigner; living with an expired card for more than one year could lead to a 10-year no-entry bar. Once the temporary status has been applied for removal, the green card becomes permanent.
Sponsor Liability: By marrying a foreigner, a sponsor (the American spouse) must assert to the U.S. government that he or she will be responsible for his or her foreign spouse for at least 10 years. This is to ensure that if there is a dissolution of marriage, the foreign spouse (and his/her children) will not become a ward of the state, and the sponsor is financially responsible for the spouse and children for 10 years.
Validity of Marriage Abroad
If an American spouse and foreign spouse get married abroad, it is up to the applicant to prove with evidence that his or her marriage is valid based on the standards of the place in which the marriage took place. Generally, marriages abroad (with a marriage certificate as prima facie evidence of valid marriage), are valid in the United States, except for the following:
Marriages, civil unions, or domestic partnerships that are not recognized in the country in which they took place;
Marriages that violate public policy of the state in which the couple resides (such as violating age requirements in the state of Mississippi if the couple is now living in that state);
Proxy marriages, where one of the parties is not present, unless the marriage was later consummated; and
Marriages or relationships entered into for the purpose of fraud (such as marrying solely for a green card).
Experienced Family Law Attorneys in DuPage County
If you are considering marriage with someone from another country, it is important to know all the requirements and hurdles that you and your future spouse may face. However, you do not have to face them alone. An experienced DuPage County family law attorney from Mevorah Law Offices LLC will be able to guide you through the legal proceedings and help keep your marriage and citizen status on track. Contact Mevorah Law Offices LLC today for a free and confidential consultation.
Whether you are going through a divorce, injured in an accident, need to file a workers' compensation claim, charged with a crime, immigrating to the United States, or need to file for bankruptcy, Mevorah Law Offices LLC can help. Our trial lawyers have over 40 years of experience helping clients throughout Northern Illinois from five offices in Lombard, Bloomindale, Naperville, St. Charles, and Chicago.
Steven Mevorah has assembled experienced attorneys under one roof so that his clients need not search for a new attorney each time they need help. Mr. Mevorah has also established a wide network of additional attorneys so that his clients merely need to stop by Mevorah Law Offices LLC to find the attorney they need.
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