Married to a spouse with a different nationality. Here's how to apply for permanent residence.

With international travel made easier, it has become now easier for the global citizens to meet and mingle together. With that said, marriages between people of different nationalities has also increased. However, marriages that result in dual citizenship is not all fireworks and no work. Applying for residence in a foreign country after marriage could be a tiresome task.

With increasing ease of internet communications inter country marriages are also becoming a spotlight for youngsters seeking to travel and live abroad. But, as you might suspect, dual citizenship marriages aren't immune to complex legal challenges regarding dual nationalities and in finding residence abroad. The complications increase by the laws of different countries coming into play for instance laws concerning difference between joint and separate real estates. Throw different countries into the mix, for instance, the US and Germany and the matter become more complex and emotionally hard. 

If you are a woman into a dual citizenship marriage or thinking to get into one, or maybe you are a man facing similar situations, or if you're planning to move in with your husband or fiancé or vice versa, or maybe just wanting to 'try out what works' you need to proceed with caution. As one wrong legal move could land you in enormous legal trouble and emotional toll. Before you decide what to do, please read on to find out what the general laws are involving applying for a residence in case of a dual citizenship through marriage or rules from a country in general involving the issue. 

What exactly means by dual citizenship and why is it important in applying for residence?

Dual citizenship means you swore allegiance to both countries and you have to abide by the laws of both the countries, you can apply to work, study, get social security, apply to residence and avail many other government benefits. 

Settling abroad

An individual looking to settle permanently in a new country with his spouse, say the United States, for green card or just to 'try it out' should consider all the options on his/her plate first. There could be easy ways too if you don't want to stress yourself with immigration attorneys while starting the new journey of your life with your spouse. You can for instance apply for immigration and employment and if you get lucky enough to qualify, boom, problem solved! However, if you don't qualify or don't want to use that option for whatever reasons, read on.

Keep in mind that marriage solely for the sake of green card or other nationalities is particularly not encouraged by most country's laws. Your partner could be your sponsor, in that case making it a spousal sponsorships. But, as you guessed right, the marriage doesn't have to be solely for residence or immigration purposes in order to avoid getting into legal trouble later. Many countries in US and Europe have laws that provide you a conditional offer of spousal sponsors. For instance, if a person from Pakistan married a citizen of US he/she will have to wait 5 years to get full citizenship or green card as a national citizen of US themselves. 

There are actually three basic laws in most countries through which people may apply for residence abroad after dual citizenship through marriage. Each takes different amount of time to change your citizenship status to dual citizenship. 

  • Consular method:  Applying to join your spouse in the country of his/her citizenship 
  • Alteration of status while you're in the same country: Applying to stay or remain with your spouse in the country of his/her residence or citizenship where you may already be working or studying on a visa
  • Fiancée visa: Applying to enter the country for the purpose of getting married to your duo partner. 

Consular method

You can apply to join your spouse in the country after you may already have married outside or inside that country at some time. The process can take from 8 to 12 months depending on the country. US takes almost 12 months, European countries taking more or less the same. You can contact our Miss legals for specific information on your country. While you wait for the consular process to complete, you can, in some countries apply for a visiting, non-immigrant visa and choose to live with your partner and children. However, we suggest you wait for the consular process before moving in as some countries legal processes and benefits could greatly be needed in your favour as accepted citizens in some cases if something goes bad. For instance, in case of an accident or injury you won't be given citizen benefits by the government. 

Staying with your partner in the country - Adjustment of status 

With the pross listed later on in the article, there are many cons to applying for immigration and then residence in the country while you stay within the country. In case the process goes long or anything else goes wrong you are staying with your spouse for that peace of mind. However, that is only if you are already on a work or study visa in the country. If otherwise, you enter the country on visit visa and then file an immigration process to be able to apply for permanent residence, you risk many consular consequences. You may be brought under the radar with the consular office for fraud. That is because at the customs you told the custom officer through official papers that you were just on visit, and then you applied to a permanent visa and married. That may as well show off as intent of lying and misinformation to the customs. It may get your immigration visa process permanently banned. If not canceled, the irregular cirsumstances could make the process painstakingly difficult for you and your spouse. 

There is however some pros if you apply for immigration from within the country. The biggest advantage being, while the process takes from 8 to 12 months you could already be living with your spouse. If anything goes wrong you two could tackle this together. And while you are at it, you could also apply for a work visa, employement permissions or spousal sponsorship to make life easier. Unfortunately, in most country's case, you would then not be allowed to leave the country except in an emergency. Also, you would only be allowed to leave to travel if you file papers for that in advance. With all the pros and cons, you would then only be required to wait for a 12 month processing and screening period to get permanent visa and apply for residence. 

Entering the country to marry your fiancée

You can enter and marry in the country after you get the fiancée visa. You would however, be required to be married within the 90 days of entry in most cases. You could then, also apply for work visa/permission and stay with your spouse while waiting from 8 to 12 months processing period of your immigration. Once given immigration visa you could then file for permanent residence as dual citizen.

I have child(ren) do they qualify?

The child(ren) will qualify within the application if the parents married before the child turned into an adult. For US, the child must not be more than 21 years of age at the time of applying the petition. 

In general, couples spend lots of time preparing and planning each sweet moment of their marriage. Visa and immigrations is also such process that cross country couples should be keeping an eye on as their to do list item. Marriages itself is a complex process if it involves more than one nationality. It gets more hard, if it involves a spouse or children with different nationalities who want to apply for permanent residency. It would be wise to plan everything before a marriage between citizens of two countries to avoid complications and unpleasant circumstances. This is not what should be on your last to-do item. Please contact our Boss Girls on personalized assistance on the matter. 

Share this page

Advies nodig over dit onderwerp?

Boek een sessie met Miss Legal

Ask Miss Legal a private question

Comment on this article

You need to be registered or logged in