Wedding planning can be particularly challenging when a couple is from the same country, but can be made even more difficult if a person marries a foreign national who does not have U.S. citizenship. No matter if your future spouse has already or is about to immigrate to the United States, it is often a wise idea to sign a prenuptial agreement to determine how assets will be divided in case of divorce. Will your foreign spouse automatically become a U.S. citizen upon your marriage? In many situations, it is wise to obtain the assistance of an experienced family law attorney to navigate these complex legal matters.
How Quickly can a Foreign National Spouse Become a U.S. Citizen?
Marrying a foreign national will not automatically result in that person becoming a United States citizen. The citizenship process is long and involves many different types of documents. A foreign national spouse can be denied citizenship if he or she is found inadmissible due to problems with criminal or medical history. After obtaining a green card, an immigrant spouse must wait a period of three years before applying for United States citizenship.
If your marriage does not last and your spouse is not a United States citizen, a prenuptial agreement can be valuable because it can help to protect any assets that you gained before the marriage. If you are the higher earning spouse, a prenuptial agreement also offers the advantage of letting you be certain that your spouse is marrying you for love rather than financial gain.
Immigration officials frequently look for signs that a marriage occurred for financial or citizenship reasons rather than out of love for one another. One of the signs that the marriage is authentic is the commingling of assets, which can be difficult to establish if a couple has a prenuptial agreement in place.
The immigration law of 1996 outlines certain financial requirements for United States citizens who marry non-citizens who apply for a green card. The citizen spouse will be required to fill out an Affidavit of Support, which shows that he or she has the ability to support the immigrant at a level above established poverty guidelines.
If your spouse does not plan on working in the United States, it is possible that you will be required to sign an affidavit of support, which requires you to uphold a certain living standard for your new spouse exceeding 125% of the poverty level. A person is not released from this requirement until the foreign spouse becomes a citizen of the United States. A prenuptial contract does not automatically absolve a person from this type of responsibility.
Speak with an Experienced Family Law Attorney
If you need assistance in creating a prenuptial agreement, or have questions regarding marrying a foreign national, do not hesitate to obtain the assistance of an experienced family law attorney. At Vayman & Teitelbaum P.C., our attorneys are prepared to help you today.