Marriage with an American: useful tips from the US Migration Service - ForumDaily
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Marriage with an American: useful tips from the US Migration Service

Many foreigners living in the US marry people who are from their own country. But quite a few foreigners want to marry US citizens. Therefore, the United States has a fairly high level of immigration in connection with marriages. The U.S. Immigration Service advises those who start a family with an American or an American to consider a few points. In addition, ForumDaily asked lawyer Carina Duval explain in more detail the nuances regarding international marriages with US citizens.

Photo: IStock

  1. Legal status

How long it takes for a foreigner to move to the United States with his American spouse depends on his or her legal status in America:

  • US citizen: Since there are no annual quotas for the immediate relative (IR) category, the processing time for obtaining an immigrant visa after marrying an American citizen is the shortest. This is usually 8 to 12 months.

If you are getting married or marrying a person with US citizenship, you have several options for obtaining K1, K3 or immigration visas. You need to carefully examine all the options and choose the one that suits you best.

  • Green Card Holder: If you marry a green card holder, your application for a green card falls into the F2A category, which is limited by annual quotas. You will have to wait a few years before you can travel to the US on an immigrant visa and get a green card. Typically, the total waiting time is approximately 5 years. During this time, you cannot apply for a tourist or any other non-immigrant US visa, such as a student visa (but you can still apply for an H1 or L1 if you qualify separately). Thus, before marrying such a person, you need to decide whether you are willing to wait that long.
    If such a person has applied for US citizenship, there is no guarantee that he will receive it.
  • Nonimmigrant visa: If a person lives in America on a non-immigrant visa such as H-1, L-1 or F-1, his spouse may immediately receive an American visa dependent on H-4, L-2 or F-2. It is worth remembering that these visas are not immigration and open for a limited amount of time. If the holder of the initial visa is not served on the green card, then the visa of the dependent ends at the same time as the visa of the main holder.

Before entering into marriage, it is worth clarifying the legal status of a person living in the United States and asking for his proof (American citizen passport, green card or non-immigrant visa stamp). Make a photocopy of this document and carry it with you.

2. Documents

Before you marry, do not be afraid to ask for such documents, as well as to ensure their authenticity:

  • Social security card and driver's license. Make copies and carry them with you.
  • The document on income and payment of taxes. You will need them to confirm your affidavit of support.

3. Visa K-1

  • If a person living in the United States has already applied for a K-1 visa twice, you cannot apply for a third time - you must first get a waiver.
  • If you are already married, it is against the law to be single for a K-1 visa.

4. If you get a visa, hiding your marital status, you can deport and revoke citizenship (if you are given it in the future) even 10 or 20 years after this violation. If a person residing in the US changes their mind, he or she will not be able to apply for your green card even after marriage to you. Once an application has been submitted, he or she may cancel it at any time, or simply refuse to provide proof of financial support.

5. Even if you have never been to the US, a person living in America has the right to file for a divorce at the place of residence, and a US court can divorce you. Unlike many other countries, it is not necessary to provide a good reason to get a divorce in the US.

6. If a person living in the United States has already been married and is divorced or widowed, it is much more difficult to obtain a visa as a result of marriage with such a person as compared to the one who was not married. This is explained by the fact that a consular officer may suspect fraud in connection with a previous marriage. In this case, do not forget to ask for a divorce certificate or death certificate of the previous spouse of the person with whom you intend to register the marriage. You will also need photos and other evidence that this previous marriage of your future spouse was real.

7. Although in some countries, persons of a certain religion are allowed to have several wives at the same time, US law does not allow this. Such people cannot marry several persons at the same time and apply for a green card for a spouse.

8. If at the time of receiving the green card you have been married for less than two years, you will be given a conditional green card. You will need to apply for a permanent green card 21 months after that by eliminating the conditions. You will have to provide evidence of the authenticity of the marriage. In the absence of extraordinary circumstances, it is impossible to eliminate the conditions and obtain a permanent green card without the support of the American spouse. Some people may take advantage of this with malicious intent - you should keep this in mind when choosing a mate.

9. If you register a marriage only for the purpose of obtaining a green card, this is fraud and a crime that entails a $250 fine and up to 000 years in prison. If a person obtained American citizenship in this way, he can be deprived of his citizenship and deported from the country.

10. While waiting in line for green card approval, keep in touch with your American spouse - correspond, send postcards, gifts, and ask him / her to send you money through banks to prove the genuineness of relationships and support.

11. If there are too many differences between spouses - education, financial status, physical status (height, weight), language, age, race, religion, etc. - it can be more difficult to get a green card for such a marriage, because the chances that unreal, higher.

Update: Attorney Karina Duval in a comment ForumDaily clarified the main nuances regarding international marriage with Americans.

Immigration by marriage occupies a special place in the immigration process. So special that by Resolution 1040 (XI) of the UN General Assembly of January 29, 1957, the Convention on the Nationality of Married Women was adopted.

Prior to the adoption of this convention, there was no legislation that would provide legal protection for the civil rights of women who married outside their own country. Article 3 of this convention establishes that a woman who is married to a citizen of another country may, at her request, obtain the citizenship of her husband in a special simplified naturalization procedure. The granting of citizenship may be subject to restrictions established in the interests of state security or public order.

The United States party to this convention grants citizenship to the wives of Americans in a simplified manner; Marriage with a US citizen is the fastest way to coveted American citizenship, and it is much faster than the path that refugees have to travel, the most protected of all migrants. It is marriage with an American who is the fastest and best category for immigration to the United States. For this category, unlike many others, there are no immigration quotas, that is, established restrictions.

As a result, many women try to immigrate to the United States through marriage. However, before deciding to take such a step, you need to know not only the advantages of this path, but also the disadvantages.

As mentioned above, the granting of citizenship may be subject to restrictions established in the interests of the state. Therefore, each case is carefully checked.

Karina Duval, a lawyer licensed in the United States as a foreign consultant, with more than 20 years of experience. Photo courtesy of Karina Duval.

If it seems to you that you have met your fate and want to stay in America by marriage, then you should know and remember a number of rules:

1. You need to make sure that the previous marriage is dissolved. It would seem that this is obvious. But, alas, marriages that are not dissolved at home often become serious problems. If you are in America, and in the post-Soviet space, for example, in Russia or Ukraine, you still have a husband or wife, before moving forward, you need to dissolve this marriage.

To dissolve a marriage in your homeland, there is absolutely no need to go there. Divorce can be done remotely. For example, the office of lawyer Karina Duval ( has been specializing in such divorces for over 20 years. The absence of obstacles to the conclusion of a new marriage is the key to your success in the new American life.

2. If your marriage is dissolved, but you do not know where and when, then you have to find out and get divorce papers. Don't be surprised, it happens. For example, you left for the United States, and a desperate spouse went to court and got a divorce without your participation.

If you have no questions about the legitimacy of a divorce, you agree to the dissolution of the marriage and do not plan to dispute it, then just get documents about it. As in the previous case, Karina Duvall’s office will receive divorce documents for you, no matter where and when you were divorced. Even if you yourself do not know where and when it happened.

3. In addition to your previous marriage's divorce papers, you'll need all your previous marriages' divorce papers if you've been married more than once. In addition to divorce papers, you will also need documents on previous marriages (marriage certificates or a certificate of the established form stating that the marriage was concluded and terminated). All these documents must contain a notarized translation.

If these documents are not available, they must be obtained. There is no need to go home for this: you can request any documents remotely by contacting Karina Duval's office, which restores any documents in almost any country, and also draws up notarized translations into English.

4. Separately, it is worth dwelling on marriages and divorces registered in the Crimea after the 2014 year. They are not recognized in the USA.. Unfortunately, few people know that the United States authorities do not recognize the actions of the Russian authorities in Crimea. Therefore, marriage must be registered either in Russia or in Ukraine. But not in the Crimea. The same applies to divorce. Divorce is necessary in Ukraine, in accordance with Ukrainian laws. Specifically - in Kiev.

5. Of course, if you are planning a marriage with an American, and you have a child, then you will need documents regarding your child. First of all, of course, this is the birth certificate of the child. It is highly desirable to have permission from the father to move the child to the United States. Given the conflicting relations of the former spouses, such a document is far from always available, therefore, if you doubt that the husband will assist, do not ask him for permission, in any case, if you are a citizen of Russia.

In accordance with Russian law, a child travels accompanied by one of the parents, and the consent of the second parent is not required by law. When applying for a visa, the American embassy also does not always require the consent of the second parent; a court decision on determining the place of residence of the child with the mother may well serve as its alternative. But even if there is no such decision, the court decision to recover child support from the father for the maintenance of the child is also proof that the child lives with the mother.

If you have any additional questions, you can send them to the lawyer Karina Duval by e-mail: or call by phones + 7 (495) 662-8721 in Russia / + 1 (212) 205-2211 in the USA

You can also familiarize yourself with already existing recommendations on the websites of the lawyer: and

Attorney registration: # 78 / 857
NYS registration: 4775086
Notary public, registration: 02DU6376542

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