U.S. Law Center

3 things you should know about marriage and citizenship

Love is a feeling that knows no bounds, even across international borders. It's not uncommon for a U.S. citizen to fall in love with someone in another country.

When the relationship advances, and marriage is the next step, you may wonder what the process is for making your new spouse an American citizen. You know by marrying you, the person will receive citizenship, but you do not necessarily know how. Before saying "I do" without any idea how the process works, check out these three facts you did not know about spousal citizenship.

1. You both need to provide valid documentation

The steps to obtaining a green card will request both the U.S. citizen spouse (also known as the sponsoring spouse) and the foreign spouse to provide documentation. The sponsoring spouse must provide proof of U.S. citizenship, either through birth records or a green card. The parties need to provide evidence that the marriage is legal. If this marriage is a second one for either party, the government requires divorce papers.

2. Make sure the marriage is valid and genuine

Even after providing the above, U.S. Immigration will try to figure out if the marriage is a sham. Marrying a U.S. citizen to gain legal status in the country is big business for Americans and foreigners; however, it is also a crime. The following may provide clues that the marriage is not genuine:

  • A wide gap in age between the couple
  • Educational disparities
  • Financial disparities

Immigration will also consider differing religions and languages a giveaway that the marriage is not valid.

3. Same-sex marriage will not qualify

Currently, the marriage between same-sex couples is not considered valid when one of them is a sponsoring spouse. While gay marriage is legal in the United States, it has not trickled down to green-card eligibility through marriage.

Knowing these three simple tips may assist you in understanding where you and your foreign spouse stand.

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