US Citizenship and Marriage

By Dona Maria Avanzado April 28th, 2010

Marriage is not only a joining of two families, a declaration of love, and a life-changing decision. It is also a change of legal status – one that has important ramifications for the immigration process. US citizenship and marriage are two closely intertwined subjects. Married couples can sponsor each other, so that if one spouse is a US citizen or permanent resident, he or she can sponsor their husband or wife to enter the US legally and can even help secure a green card for their spouse.

Apply here for Green Card through Marriage.

If you are married to a US citizen, you may be able to apply for a green card and receive permanent residency much sooner than someone who does not have the spouse advantage. However, while some people think that marrying a US citizen is enough to ensure a quick green card, this is not the case. You cannot simply marry a US citizen and get a green card. You also cannot marry someone in order to get a green card.

If you are married to a US citizen, you must still apply for a green card and provide evidence of your marriage. As well, you may be required to prove that you did not undertake your marriage in order to secure a green card. This is considered an offense and therefore immigration officials may investigate your marriage if the timing of the event seems suspicious. You and your spouse may be asked individually about your courtship and marriage and may investigate your marriage and living arrangements. Immigration officials may also speak to your friends and family to determine whether the marriage is legitimate. A marriage undertaken just to secure a green card is not considered legitimate and usually will result in a denial of a green card application, even if one of the partners is a US citizen. If an investigation by US immigration authorities determines that you have married a US citizen in order to gain a green card, this is considered fraud and in some cases deportation proceedings may be begun. To learn more about immigration fraud through marriage, attorneys Robert L. Reeves and Jeff L. Khurgel have a useful guide on the topic.

If a non US citizen becomes engaged to be married to a US citizen, it is advisable that the couple fill out either applications for a Fiancee Visa (K-1 Visa) or an Immigrant Visa (Green Card). The K-1 Visa is a temporary visa which allows you to bring your future spouse legally to the US in order to wed. Once you have married and are residing in the US, you may then take further steps to apply for a green card. Applying for a green rather than a Finacee Visa is a good idea if you will not be marrying in the US.

If you are a green card holder and want to marry someone who is not a US citizen, you are not eligible for the K-1 Visa. However, after your wedding you may apply for a green card for your spouse.

In every case, when you apply for a green card for your spouse, be advised that the permanent residency for your spouse will be conditional for two years. Within 90 days of your second wedding anniversary, you and your spouse must apply to the USCIS to have the permanent residency become permanent.

If you need further information, Lawcom has a useful guide to the major definitions and procedures of getting US immigration status through marriage.


46 Responses to “US Citizenship and Marriage”

  1. abayomi adesina Says:

    where can l get the l-129f form petition for alien fiance online please

  2. Dona Maria Avanzado Says:

    You can download the form from the USCIS website.

  3. Chris Says:

    My wife and I have been married for 14 years and she has now finally decided to apply for citizenship. I am a naturalized citizen; she has a green card. Must she fill out Form N-400, or is there a different form for the spouse of a citizen?

  4. Dona Maria Avanzado Says:

    No, there are no separate forms for the spouses of US citizens and your wife must file Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, to apply for US citizenship.

  5. Karyn Barnett Says:

    How long can a person stay in the US on a visitor visa?

    Are they allowed to marry on a visitor visa?

  6. Nevada Ebina Says:

    Hi my name is miss ebina. I married a non citizen man from africa who lives in the US. He is here on a student visa. He only married me to try and get citizenship. He has moved from North Carolina to missouri. I need help cause he may be going to do the same thing to another woman but i have so much proof. Who do i need to to notify.

  7. Nick Stratis Says:

    My fiance is a Philippine citizen who has been living in Hong Kong on a work permit for the past 8 years. She has applied for a divorce in Hong Kong with a local attorney and gotten a signed consent agreement from her Philippine husband and the attorney has filed these papers with the local court and we are waiting for them to weave through the court and be signed by a judge. I am a US citizen born in the US and also divorced . I have applied to the USIS with an I-129F petition for Alien Fiance in order for my fiance to obtain a K1 visa to come to the US so that we can get married. We have worked so long and so hard for the visa and have met all of the requirements that we are aware of including affidavit of support by me, biographical forms, having met in person recently and vacationed together. We have one area of concern and that is do you think there would be any reason that the US consular officer upon review of her divorce papers could have reason to deny her visa request. I have consulted an immigration attorney here in the US and also the Hong Kong attorney who is obtaining her divorce for her and they assure us that we are legally able to marry in the US.

  8. Dona Maria Avanzado Says:

    Check the expiration date written on your Form I-94 and that is the date until which you can legally stay in America and you can get married while in America on a visitor visa.

  9. Dona Maria Avanzado Says:

    You have filed all the required forms and you have done done all that must be done. You just need to wait and see what the Consular decision is going to be.

  10. Dona Maria Avanzado Says:

    Sorry Miss. Ebina, we would not be able to help you in this regard as we are not the concerned authority.

  11. Corinne Says:

    I have been living in the states more than 10 years. I was married 8 years with my first husband and got divorced. He is a US citizen and I am a citizen of France. Then got remarried in 2011 and have two beautiful daughters with my second husband. My green card that I got from my first marriage expires in 2016 and my husband was telling me that maybe I should apply for my US citizenship. I got the eligibility to apply when I received the documents a while ago from INS, but I didn’t have the chance or time to do it then.

    Is there procedures I need to follow before I can apply for my naturalization? being that I am remarried now? I am not sure what to do or if I would be able to just apply for my naturalization.

  12. Dona Maria Avanzado Says:

    You can apply for naturalization if you are eligible. Make sure that you file Form N-400, Application for Naturalization along with copies of your divorce certificate, your current marriage certificate and other supporting documents.

  13. Cassie Says:

    A year ago, I married a Guatemalan man who is in the US without a visa. He has been here for about five years, but he also attended high school here many years ago. His mother is Guatemalan and is no longer married to his dad, who became a naturalized US citizen a few years ago (when my husband was in his early thirties). Is there any way to get legal residency for my husband without him having to leave the US? We really can’t afford it and he can’t safely return to Guatemala because he witnessed a crime committed by drug dealers (two of his friends who also witnessed the crime were targeted, which is why he left Guatemala City for the US). We heard that processing his documents in Canada might be faster, but we have no family there and it would be expensive. If he has to leave, could he go to Mexico while applying? Or would that be a long wait? Any chance that the immigration reform bill will make it easier for spouses of citizens? We’d like to sponsor his mother some day as well, so that she can live with us when she gets older. Thanks so much for your help!

  14. Dona Maria Avanzado Says:

    You may wait until the immigration reform bill is passed. Undocumented immigrants in the United States, would be permitted to apply for legal status, if the Senate immigration reform bill is passed.

  15. Jen Says:

    Hi, I’m a US citizen my fiance is a uk citizen but we both are living abroad in Spain. We had a baby 11 months ago have been together for 2 and a half years. My question is, what do I need to do in order to get him a green card if im currently not in the US and not working since I’m a stay at home mom. He runs online businesses to support us and we have a good amount of money set aside for moving to the usa. But Ive heard that I need proof that I can support my family on my own. Need advice please and thank you

  16. Malolactic Says:

    My men and I been together for 31/2 years and we decide to get married this years. So I can help him to be permanent resident in us. He came from Mexico illegally for 7 years ago. Sense that he been working and paying regularly taxed each years. He got a tax ID

  17. Dona Maria Avanzado Says:

    He is an undocumented immigrant and you cannot sponsor him now. You can wait until the immigration reform bill is passed as that bill includes provisions for undocumented immigrants.

  18. Dona Maria Avanzado Says:

    You need to sponsor your spouse for a US Green Card, by filing Form I-130 for him. As you are a US citizen, you need not prove that you can support your family on your own.

  19. Dona Maria Avanzado Says:

    You need to sponsor your spouse for a US Green Card, by filing Form I-130 for him. As you are a US citizen, you need not prove that you can support your family on your own. But you need to prove that you will be able to financially sponsor your spouse while filing an immigrant petition for him.

  20. Dona Maria Avanzado Says:

    As he is an undocumented immigrant, you cannot sponsor him now. You need to wait until immigration reform is passed as the immigration reform bill includes provisions for the undocumented immigrants.

  21. Ricardo Says:

    I am aUS citizen married to a mexican, we have a child born in Mexico, we all live abroad, we all want to travel to the US visiting only for two months for vacation and business, she and my child have tourist visas and I have my US passport, will we have any immigration issues getting there?

  22. Dona Maria Avanzado Says:

    There won’t be any issues as you are a US citizen and you hold a US passport and your spouse and child, both hold tourist visas. Your spouse and child must return to Mexico prior to the expiration of their temporary visas.

  23. Randy Says:

    Hi just wanted to ask i married my gf for 5yrs she’s been seperated for almost 13yrs she is from philippines but now leaving in the us we got married here what do we need to do coz her marriage in philippines is not annulled yet? hope i can get an a.s.a.p answer so we could file her green card before her visa expired thank you. God bless

  24. Dona Maria Avanzado Says:

    Are you a US citizen and what visa does she hold?

  25. John Fszol Says:

    After We get married, will there be any problems of us going back to the Philippines to gather the rest of her belongings? Will there be any problem for her to come back into the United States?
    If so …. could you advise me as to what I should do?

  26. Dona Maria Avanzado Says:

    Are you a permanent resident or a US citizen? and what’s the status of your spouse in America?

  27. Ash Says:

    Hi im a british citizen just got married in new york my query is that i came over under VWP can i get my status adjusted whilst i stay here or do i have to leave as from november 14 2013 new immigration law stating VWP can adjust while remaining in the US, can someone be kind enough to clairfy my query thank you.

  28. Dona Maria Avanzado Says:

    Hi, you can adjust your status only if your spouse is a US citizen.

  29. Shannon Cleveland Says:

    Hi. I’m a US Citizen (born here)my fiance is Australian living in Canada. He was living in the US from 2007 to 2011 and was married to a US citizen at the time. He was here on a Visitor’s visa but was trying to apply for residency. His marriage failed due to breakdown in marriage. In 2011 he flew back to AUS for a few months. Was denied a new visa to return.(at the time he was still legally married,his divorce was final in June 2012) He wants to move to the US to be with me, become a permanent resident. I do not want to move to Canada with 3 kids, taking them away from friends and family. What can my fiance do to be able to enter the US again? (We want to get our marriage license in Canada and in a couple years have our big ceremony here in the US)Driving to Canada every month is getting tiresome by the way. Thanks!

  30. Dona Maria Avanzado Says:

    Since you seek to get married to him, you may get him a fiance visa with which he can travel to the U.S. and get married to you. You need to file Form I-129F to get him a fiance visa.

  31. Dulce m Sonnier Says:

    Hello,I got my resident permanent card thru marriage to a Marine,were married almost 12 years (been in the Us for 22 years)and got divorced.I have had my card renew and now I re-married for almost 2 years and my resident card will expire this December 2014 can I apply for US citizenship? thank you in advance.

  32. Nensu Says:

    I am US Citizen and want to marry my fiance who is in India. Am I required to produce no objection letter of my eligibility and if so, where and how can I get it ?

    Thank you

  33. Dona Maria Avanzado Says:

    Check this for information

  34. Gina Luby Says:

    A woman has approached me with a question.
    She is from Colombia and came to America on a Work VISA. She has been in the states for 9 years, so I assume the visa has expired. What steps would she need to take to renew her card.
    She is in a serious relationship with a man and both have talked marriage, but the thought of deportation weighs heavily. She says if she were deported her country would not allow her to return.

  35. Dona Maria Avanzado Says:

    If she has overstayed her work visa, she may not be able to renew it.

  36. Freddie Kirkland Says:

    I married a woman from Thailand. She had come to the US on a visa to marry a US citizen. After 3 years marriage she started cheating on him and left and divorced. I met her later and we got married. I adopted her two sons, one is 14 and the other is 17. We have been married for 3 years. She recently left me for a man she met online. This seems to be a pattern with her. The oldest son stayed with me and she took the youngest and has stopped me from any contact to check on him. she has left the state in which we live in. I have heard that she could possibly be deported as a scammer which it seems she has been doing according to my oldest son.

  37. Isai berrios Says:

    Hi Dona I sent my petition about my wife and I would like to know how long it is goning to take her to get an interview at the embassy and for her to get a visa to travel to the U.S

  38. Phil Says:

    Hi Dona,

    My name is Phil, my fiancé is a citizen of the Dominican Republic and I wanted to know if we got married there how would we go about getting her here to live with me? Thanks

  39. Dona Maria Avanzado Says:

    Hi Phil, after you get married, you can sponsor your fiancé for legal status in the U.S. by filing Form I-130 ( If you want to get married in the U.S., you bring her to the U.S. by getting a K-1 nonimmigrant visa by filing Form I-129F ( Once she comes to the U.S., you can get married to her. Followed by that she can adjust her status by filing Form I-485, application for adjustment of status

  40. Dona Maria Avanzado Says:

    Hi, If you are a U.S. citizen, it might take one year. You can check the status of your case online or keep track of the visa bulletin for updates.

  41. Daniel Says:

    Hi, I’m a US born citizen, I married my wife while I was in the Philippines, I was told that after I fill out the I130, I can also fill out the I129F and send in a copy of the receipt from the I130 to possibly get my wife here sooner, I was curious about this as the I129F is a fiance visa form.

  42. Dona Maria Avanzado Says:

    You can file Form I-129f to get a K3 visa for your spouse. K-3 visas are for the spouses of U.S. citizens. This visa will allow your foreign spouse to come to the United States while the I-130 petition is pending.

  43. Josh Says:

    Hi, I am a U.S. Citizen (man) engaged to marry my French fiancé (woman) that is working in the U.S. as an au pair (I think she has a work visa that she is renewing). My question is after our marriage what documents do we need to get her a U.S. citizenship? Also how long is the process? Where going to marry in the US in Oct. and are planning on visiting her family in Dec. of this year.


  44. Lucy Says:

    My niece is engaged to her boyfriend who is a citizen and she lives in Mexico. They are living together but not married yet. He want’s to come back to the USA but want’s to bring her with him, Which way would be faster if they marry in Mexico and then have him file for a spouse or would it be faster if he just comes back and gets her a fiancé visa.

  45. Dona Maria Avanzado Says:

    As you said, those are the two options to immigrate and may be he can try getting her a fiancé visa and get married in America.

  46. shan Says:

    hi I married my us citizen husband 9 1/2 years ago,I came for a visit and we got married and myself and my daughter have stayed here ever since,my husband and i had a child 7 1/2 years ago,I had no visa or any other thing we understood when we got married I was able to stay which I know was very ignorant on our part but my eldest is 18 and he is going to adopt her this week,when we got our marriage licence in the us they gave me the form to fill out for a ss card but I never filled it out,I guess my question is what do we do to make me completely legal here so I can work and other things without being seperated,Our us born daughter is being home schooled by me not to mention both our kids friends and school are here,my eldest is still in high school senior year.Please help

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