All You Need to Know Before Marrying Someone From Another Country
What are the pros and cons of marrying someone from another country? Does the process of marrying someone from another country in the US differ from the same procedure in the UK, Canada, or Australia? What do you need to know about citizenship and immigration services and the immigration law in these countries? Here, you’ll find all the answers.
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Process of marrying foreigners in different countries
Canada doesn’t have a fiancé visa (like the K-1 visa in the US). The UK has two types of visas for an immigrant spouse. Finally, the Australian option of the marriage-based green card and visa will cost you 3 times as much as you would pay for a visa and a green card in the United States. These are the main differences in the visa/green card application process in different countries. Later, we’ll talk about all the differences in more detail.
But first, let’s talk about the typical things related to the process of marrying someone from another country in the US, UK, Canada, and Australia.
First of all, it always begins the same way in these four countries: you sign up on an international dating website, buy some credits or a paid subscription because 99% of these sites are fee-based, and start chatting with women from foreign countries. This process is always the same—you search for a future spouse (most international dating sites allow you to find a gay or lesbian partner, too), start chatting with them, meet them in person, and propose to them after that. After that, the application process begins, and you can bring a foreign citizen to your country—at this stage, it’s more or less the same in all 4 countries.
Now, let’s talk about the differences concerning immigration laws and getting a valid immigration status for a foreign spouse.
- Foreign spouses can enter the US legally on a K-1 visa. It’s called a “fiance” visa, and it has specific requirements—the sponsor must be a US citizen with an income higher (125%) than the poverty line and the relationship must be genuine (bona fide). The latter is the main reason for most green card applications being denied.
- The cost of a K-1 visa and a green card is $2,000.
- A valid visa allows the foreigner to enter the country with the intention of getting married within 90 days.
- With a fiance visa, you’ll have to marry after the arrival of your partner in the US. Those who want to marry abroad can choose a CR-1 visa—in this case, you and your spouse must have a valid marriage certificate that proves that you have married legally.
- Gay or lesbian couples can marry both in the US and outside the country. A federal law called DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act) states that same-sex marriages are legally recognized in the US, but only if you marry in a country that recognizes gay or lesbian marriages. Unfortunately, there are only 29 countries where same-sex marriage is legal, so if your same-sex partner is from a country that is not on the list, you’ll have to marry them in the US.
- A K-1 visa is not 100% protection from deportation. K-1 visa holders can be deported for various reasons, from misdemeanors (they are treated as felony offenses for federal immigration law purposes) to failing to renew a green card.
- When it comes to marrying someone from another country (UK), the foreigners can enter the country on a Marriage Visitor visa. The requirements are quite similar to the K-1 visa available in the US.
- However, there is no 90-day limit for this visa (like the one for the K-1 visa). Those who enter the UK on a Marriage Visitor visa have to get married within 6 months after their arrival.
- The visa application fee is only $126!
- The Marriage Visitor visa can’t be extended or switched to a different category—so it’s only for those who are going to leave the UK after 6 months.
- Those who are going to stay in the UK after the marriage can apply for a fiance visa—those who entered the country on this visa can apply for naturalization after 12 months.
- The fiance visa costs $1,850.
- Both Canadian citizens and permanent residents can sponsor their spouses who want to get a visa.
- There’s no “fiance” visa category so it’s only possible to apply through the spousal sponsorship category.
- Marrying a Canadian citizen doesn’t give citizenship—the spouse of a Canadian citizen must be physically present in this country for 1,095 days during the last 5 years to become a citizen.
- Canadian citizens can sponsor their foreign partners under the Family Class.
- Sponsoring a spouse or a partner costs $830 (1,080 CAD).
- The processing time is typically between 12 and 24 months.
- There are two types of visas—a Prospective Marriage visa (for brides and grooms of Australian citizens) and a Partner visa (for those already married).
- The Prospective Marriage visa fee is 7,160 Australian dollars ($5,000), and the Partner visa fee is 7,850 Australian dollars ($5,500).
- The Prospective Marriage visa allows the foreigner to stay in Australia for 9-15 months and to work or study there.
- The processing time is higher than the one in the US (7-29 months for a Prospective Marriage visa, 3-21 months for a Partner visa).
Pros and cons of marrying someone from another country
Now, when you know more about the immigration process and immigration forms, let's answer another question. What are the advantages and disadvantages of marrying someone from another country?
- Women from other countries are more traditional regarding marriage and family-minded than Western ladies.
- It’s a great way to experience new cultures and new places.
- Your kids will speak 2 languages.
- You will have so much to learn from your spouse’s culture that you’ll never get bored.
- Visiting new countries and meeting new people is always exciting.
- It’s more expensive than marrying within your country. You will most likely have to pay for every step, from the tickets to your spouse’s country to the online nonimmigrant visa application legal fees. What’s more, you will probably need to pay to the immigration attorney or a law firm to make sure everything is correct, and neither you nor your spouse will be the victim of immigration fraud.
- Domestic partnerships are easier when it comes to cultural differences and the language barrier.
- It’s faster to marry a person from your country. For example, if you’re a U.S citizen, you’ll need to wait for 6-9 months for the U.S embassy or consulate to proceed with your K-1 visa application.
And, of course, you shouldn't forget about the marriage fraud problem. Let's talk about it in more detail.
How to protect yourself when marrying a foreigner
It's incredibly important to protect yourself from potential scammers and fraudsters when marrying someone from another country. Here's a simple step-by-step guide for you.
- Use only safe and reliable international dating websites. It all begins online, and it's crucial to choose a trusted dating site—only in this case can you be sure you're talking to a real person who is interested in a genuine relationship with you.
- Be patient and get to know your foreign partner better. Unfortunately, many people want to marry Americans to become green card holders. And the less time you date your partner before the proposal, the less you know about them!
- Be aware of the red flags. For instance, if you've just met and your partner already wants to get married as soon as possible, it's a red flag. If your partner has been married to foreigners before, this might be a red flag, too.
- Think of a prenup (prenuptial agreement). Of course, no one thinks about divorce before marriage, but it would be a great thing to do if you want to protect assets.
Marrying a foreign citizen is a long process that will most likely cost you quite a bit. However, it’s certainly worth it because that’s the best way to experience new cultures and to meet a loyal, caring, and loving partner. Just follow the basic safety rules, and you will have no problems with marrying abroad and getting your spouse to your country.
🎁 VIDEO BONUS: How a US Citizen Can Sponsor a Spouse Abroad
Yes. Tens of thousands of American men marry foreign citizens every single year—in 2019, for example, almost 36,000 K-1 visas were issued to foreign spouses of American citizens. The visa numbers decreased in 2020 because of the pandemic, but even in 2020, almost 17,000 foreigners entered the US on a K-1 visa.
You don't need to be a US citizen to marry a foreigner, but only U.S residents can bring their foreign spouses to the US on a K-1 visa. If your relationship is bona fide (=genuine), your partner will be able to enter the US and become a permanent resident after that.
It depends on too many factors. A 2-week trip to another country will cost you $2,000-$5,000. The K-1 temporary visa will cost you around $2,000. The immigration lawyer costs $100-$300 per hour, and the wedding ceremony will cost you anything from $2,000 to $20,000.