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Family Members and Marriage for Expats in the United States Of America

Author: Jim Newham
Submitted: August 2013

Family Members

Ideally, when you immigrate to another country, you are able to bring your partner and children with you at the same time. If this is not financially or otherwise possible, you may need to spend some time working in the United States, and possibly remitting money to your home country to help support your family. Once you have started to familiarise yourself with the US, and found some suitable family accommodation, and perhaps looked into schools and such things, you may find it easier to move the rest of your family into the country.

When you want your spouse and dependant under-21 children to visit, you can use Dependent visas, such as the H-4, which is for dependents of short-term workers. The official recommendation is that you and your dependants attend the resultant interview together.

As a non-dependant relative of a US citizen, you can apply for a B-2 Tourist visa. You will need to provide documentary evidence that you have enough money to support yourself. The authorities may also ask you to provide evidence that you are a genuine tourist and have no intention to try to live in the USA. You should provide proof of employment, house ownership or close family ties in the home country to do this.

Education of your children can be at a state or private school. The quality of teaching in state schools can vary greatly, so it is important to research potential schools for your child before enrolment. Private schools come in two types: international schools and boarding schools. Both types are expensive; students at international schools can acquire an International Baccalaureate, which is a widely-recognised qualification.


If you are non-resident and simply want to get married in the USA then leave again, you can do this on a Tourist visa. There should be no problem with this as long as it is clear to the immigration authorities that you intend to return home after the ceremony. You are likely to run into trouble if you get married on a Tourist visa then try to stay in the US. You may be deported and banned from the USA for some time if you attempt to do this.

The correct legal procedure if you want to come to America to marry a US citizen then live in the country is as follows. First your US citizen partner, who acts as your sponsor, needs to file a Petition for Alien Fiancé(e), form I-129F. Then, when your local US embassy or consulate has received the petition, you need to go there to obtain a K-1 Fiancé(e) visa. Your children will need K-2 visas.

Once you have arrived in the United States, you need to get a marriage licence. You will be invited to an interview in which you will have to prove your relationship together is genuine. If this is successful, you will be issued with a marriage licence. You then have 90 days in which to undergo your marriage ceremony. It is better not to leave the ceremony too late into this time as obtaining the resulting marriage certificate may take weeks. Once you have your marriage certificate, your spouse can submit form I-864 to have your status adjusted to Lawful Permanent Resident, thus obtaining a green card.

Note that same-sex marriage is now legal in 13 of the 50 states (nine of these in the North-East), the District of Columbia some Native American jurisdictions. Note also that polygamy is illegal in all US states.



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