How Can a U.S. Citizen and a Foreign National Get Married?

So you want to get married! Congratulations! Taking that step is a big move and very exciting. There’s only one problem – you live in the United States and they are a citizen of a foreign country, officially known as a “foreign national.” Again, let us say congratulations! If the biggest issue in your relationship is being in the same physical place as your loved one, you are on a great foundation and well on the way to a successful marriage.

Having said that, we know that actually being together is most couples’ main priority when it comes to getting married. Unfortunately, the rules to marrying across country lines are not as simple as making a quick visit to the courthouse. It requires getting legal permission from the United States federal government. If approved, your spouse will also not immediately become a citizen of the United States like you. They will get a Green Card that allows them to live and work here.  They can apply to become a naturalized citizen from there in the future.

There are two main methods to accomplish marrying a foreign national:

The first way is accomplished entirely with the foreign national spouse in their home country. You will file paperwork to have them immigrate to the United States. They will have an interview at the U.S. Embassy located within their own country. Once everything is approved from there, they will be able to move to the United States and live with you.  This process is known as Consular Processing.

The second way is known as an Adjustment of Status. With this method, your significant other would enter the United States with a valid visa. For the first ninety days after they enter the country, they cannot do anything inconsistent with their particular visa classification. This includes, of course, getting engaged or getting married, which will be seen as a potential violation. After ninety days, however, you could get engaged. This would then allow you and your spouse to interview for your spouse’s Green Card from within the United States while living together with you.

Neither one of these methods is intrinsically better than the other. Some couples prefer the second method, so that they can live together for the entire process and see each other every day. However, the immigration process can be quicker and more streamlined working with an overseas U.S. Embassy rather than inside the United States itself. For this reason, some couples prefer the first method, which may allow them to get the Green Card quicker and move into their regular married life.

No matter which way is best for you, you shouldn’t do it alone. Contact Valvo & Associates today to discuss your situation and figure out what options are the best for you. We love working on marriages and seeing the couple happily together at the end of the process as a result of everyone’s hard work. We will help serve, lead, and support your marriage at every step of the process.

By Brandon Valvo