How Can You Arrange For Your Significant Other To Become A U.S. Citizen?

If you've begun an online or phone relationship that spans an ocean and want to remove the distance between you and your significant other, you may be investigating the various ways for your significant other to move to the U.S. legally and eventually obtain citizenship. However, the immigration process can often seem fraught with red tape and unexplained delays. What can you do to speed up the process? Read on to learn more about the laws governing immigration of those in relationships with American citizens.

When can someone dating an American move to the U.S.?

While nearly anyone with no criminal record or other potential red flags can visit the U.S. for a temporary and fixed period of time -- either for a vacation, internship, or to attend a family event -- the number of those who are permitted to legally reside in the U.S. for a longer period of time is more limited. Unless you and your significant other choose to marry during his or her brief time in the U.S., he or she must return home until you are legally married and he or she can apply for a green card. Merely dating or being engaged to a U.S. citizen is alone insufficient to grant someone an entry visa, although your significant other could potentially obtain a work visa or alternative type of documentation that may allow entry.

After same-sex marriage was declared the law of the land, immigration policies were rewritten to permit the green card applications of those in same-sex relationships who were married in a U.S. state. However, if you were married in a country that does not legally recognize same-sex marriages, you may need to obtain a U.S. marriage license and undergo a brief ceremony in order for your marriage to be deemed valid. (Fortunately, you'll be able to get legally married even if your future spouse isn't yet a U.S. resident.)

Because the green card application process can be complex and lengthy, you'll likely want to seek the services of an experienced immigration attorney to help guide you through the process and minimize any potential delay in reuniting you and your spouse.

What happens after your spouse obtains a green card?

Once your spouse's green card application has been granted, he or she is free to move to the U.S. and set up permanent residence (in fact, he or she will even be classified as a permanent resident). After three years, and barring any criminal convictions or other potentially disqualifying circumstances, he or she can take the test to become a U.S. citizen. Once this test is passed, your spouse will enjoy all the same rights and responsibilities you do.

However, your spouse is not required to maintain his or her marriage to you in order to become a citizen. If you divorce while he or she still holds a green card, he or she can still take the citizenship test after 5 years of permanent residency.

For more information, contact David Borts Law Office or a similar firm.