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Never Marry Someone From Another Country, Unless You Can't Help It

Updated on November 4, 2013

Separation Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

The Hostility Toward Foreigners

Although a line from Shakespeare (that absence makes the heart grow fonder) is true in most circumstances, the fact that people from different countries who fall in love and marry might feel greater fondness toward one another when separated temporarily is usually offset to some degree by the frustration involving government agencies with which each spouse must deal.

It makes a very romantic story to tell of a foreigner who comes to America on a visitor visa, for adventure, but then falls in love and wants to stay with his or her American sweetheart.

We normally prove our sincere love for another by marrying that person. Marriage naturally leads to children and family ties.

While having a mother-in-law 7,000 miles away, for instance, might seem like a dream come true to some married people, the fact is that a foreign spouse will want to go back home to visit and introduce the American spouse to the family.

Assuming the couple has sufficient funds, plane tickets should be no problem. Vacations and families in other countries are exciting. So why be negative about things?

Negativity enters in, not because of the loving couple but because of their two different countries. Lawmakers all around the world still have a very protective attitude toward their own nations. In America, we think of our Statue of Liberty and its inscription inviting foreigners from all over the world. But a lot has changed in the past century.

Although America still is the land of opportunity despite 9/11, the great recession, and increased border security, the chances for success are not what they used to be in our grandparents' day. But too many people have taken dishonorable avenues to achieve their goals. One such crime is to enter into a marriage with an American for the sole purpose of a green card.

We define our crimes according to their disrespect toward society. The love songs of generations are mocked by people who marry as a sham, many times for pay, only to divorce after citizenship is granted. Such people have no love between them. This is why for every ten couples who really are madly in love, the one couple who are deceiving the immigration authorities ruins the chances of respect for the sincerely married people.

In a typical situation, someone in the US on a visitor visa, who inadvertently falls in love with an American, can enter into a lawful marriage during the 6-month duration of the visit to America. After that, if the American spouse files a form promising to support the foreign spouse and showing the ability to do so, there should be no problem with the foreigner extending the stay.

But if the foreigner wants to go back home to visit family, trouble may arise. The marriage would be questioned. On coming back into the US, the foreigner might encounter trouble because computer records would indicate an "overstay" of the visitor visa beyond the six months allotted.

If the foreign spouse discloses the fact of the marriage, instead of excusing the overstay, the reaction of border police would be just the opposite. This is because the whole purpose of the immigration authorities, not just in America but everywhere, is to keep people from becoming permanent residents entitled to the privileges of citizens to share in the commonwealth of the nation. The fewer people, the more there is to allocate to each individual.

In 1996, America passed stricter rules to punish people who overstayed their visitor visas. They would have their visas revoked with no possibility of a reissued visa for 3 years, or for 10 years if the overstay exceeded a year. But the new laws really weren't enforced that much until after 9/11 brought a hostility toward foreigners. Still, the enforcement only became gradually stricter until finally the realities of the recession made people want to keep foreigners out because Americans needed the lowly immigrant jobs themselves. So hostility combined with poverty has led to the present state of affairs.

There are visa extensions possible. Permission to go back home to visit family also is possible. But there's a lot of red tape. Attorneys can help immensely, but they must be paid. Most married couples do not want to concentrate on anything but romance. Immigration laws and forms are not what they have on their minds.

Once children are born in the US, they are citizens. But the foreign parent still remains a foreigner in the eyes of the law. Unlike the well-known criminal-law maxim "innocent until proven guilty," the immigration law is just the opposite. The marriage is a sham until proven otherwise.

If the spouse of the American were to stay in the U.S. and apply for a green card, he or she eventually would have to go back to the old country for more red tape and an interview at our consulate there. This could take months or years, while the family languishes back here without a mother or father. There's now a push in Congress to start amending some of these laws, but things are moving very slowly.

Despite all this a true romantic will believe that love conquers all. This is true, but it will take a little luck also to satisfy the border agents at the international airports. Chances are that any international marriage will have its share of frustrations, whether it be that medical insurance in the US is practically impossible without a green card, or that a one-month visit back home to a foreign country results in a revoked visa upon landing back in America.

Attorneys are extremely useful for international spouses. The fees should prove to be money well spent.

But the main thing is to keep faith in the love that binds the married couple together. A wise man once said that where there's a will, there's a way.

One big plus on the side of international marriage is that in the event the couple does have to endure lengthy separations, phone calling has become a nearly negligible expense; two-way on-screen conversations are easy on computers; and money can be sent electronically with ease.

Despite the terrible immigration laws preventing married couples from being together, it's been shown that international marriages now are generally more stable and long-lasting than regular traditional marriages between two Americans.

Victims of Immigration Laws

Examples of Suffering Needlessly

The immigration laws not only of the USA but also of nearly all countries do discriminate against international marriages by treating them with automatic contempt, skepticism, and suspicion. But many laws make law-abiding people suffer due to the small minority who would abuse the system and take advantage of the law.

Women immigrants into America often marry American men but spend their lives regretting the attitude of outsiders that their marriage is a sham, entered into only for a green card.

If the American man abuses his immigrant wife, a domestic violence complaint can be filed, but the court might side with the husband due to the strong presumption that someone from outside the USA would be willing to marry an American just to escape the poverty and frustration of living in a foreign country with a weak economy and no opportunities for advancement.

Immigrants take casual labor and independent contractor jobs without tax forms. They are paid straight cash. But this leaves them open to prosecution for tax evasion. Not only does the immigrant law protect against foreigners taking jobs away from Americans, but also the law will break up a marriage, deport an immigrant spouse, and legally disregard an otherwise valid marriage.

Trouble in a marriage would terrify an immigrant spouse due to the vulnerability of being threatened with divorce, deportation, or imprisonment. The immigrant spouse always is at the mercy of the American spouse's petition of support. If the American spouse changes his or her mind, the immigrant must concede to the American.

While courts can side with the immigrant in some cases of physical abuse, generally the sympathies will lay with the American spouse.


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    • Sherry Hewins profile image

      Sherry Hewins 5 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      This hub is a real eyeopener for those considering international marriage. My neice, a US citizen, has been married to a canadian for five years, and still they are having to prove that it's a real marriage.