Generally, marriages that are performed legally and valid abroad are also legally valid in the United States. Should you have inquiries regarding the validity of a marriage abroad, you should direct it to the attorney general of the state in the United States where you live.
Marriages overseas are mostly performed by local, civil or religious officials. It is important to note that American diplomatic and consular officers are not allowed to perform marriages and marriages are not performed on the premises of any American embassy or consulate abroad.
The validity of marriages abroad solely depends on adhering to the laws of the country where the marriage is performed and does not depend on the presence of an American diplomatic or consular officer. However, Consular officers have the right to authenticate foreign marriage documents.
The embassy or tourist information bureau of the country where the marriage is to be held is the best source of information about marriage laws and procedures in that country. You can get some general information on marriage from the Overseas Citizens Services, Washington, DC. You can also get information from the American embassy and consulate abroad about marriage in the country in which they are located.
Marriages abroad are subject to the residency requirements of the country in which the marriage is to be performed. The waiting period is normally a long and winding one to obtain Green Card.
Many countries request for a valid U.S. passport be presented. Apart from this, birth certificates, divorce decrees, and death certificates have to be submitted. In some countries, you should have the documents presented to the marriage registrar first authenticated in the US by a consular official of that country. You can imagine how time consuming and expensive the process can turn out to be.
Though the age of majority for marriage differs from one country to another, as a general rule, persons under the age of 18 are required to present a written statement of consent executed by their parents before a notary public. In some countries, the law requires the parental consent statement be authenticated by a consular official of that foreign country in the US.
You should also get a certification from a competent authority that no impediment exists to the marriage. An affidavit of support eligibility to marry is needed.
Apart from the requirements mentioned above, many countries, like the US, require blood tests. Some countries may ask you to translate the documents presented to the marriage registrar into the native language of that country.
In some countries, getting married to a national of that country will automatically make the spouse a citizen of that country or make them qualify to become naturalized in that country in a quicker process. Such automatic acquisition of another nationality will not affect your American citizenship. But, getting naturalized in a foreign country on one’s own application and eligibility may result in the loss of American citizenship. It is best advised to persons planning to apply for a foreign nationality to contact an American embassy or consulate for any additional information.
US citizens are not the only ones who have to file tax returns. Certain US immigrants and residents may also have to file, depending on their immigration status in the US.
To figure out if you have to file a tax return in the US, you have to check whether or not you are classified as a tax resident. Per immigration laws, tax residents have to report their entire income, even if only a part of the income was earned in the US to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). If part or the entire income was earned internationally, the income will be subject to international tax treaties. Income earned in the US will be taxed by the US government.
Green card holders:
All lawful permanent residents (green card holders) are considered as tax residents in the US. Some immigrants are considered as tax residents based on how much time they spend in the US. But it is important to remember that this applies only to visa holders and not immigrants who have already obtained permanent residency.
Green card holders who spend too much time outside of the US should note that traveling too much can be taken as abandoning a green card and could result in removal proceedings. If you are a green card holder and do not file taxes in the US, it could hamper your chances of obtaining US citizenship as submitting tax returns during your time as a green card holder is mandatory when filing Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. Not filing taxes at all can also result in the deportation process.
Most immigrant visa holders are required to file US tax. Even if an immigrant visa holder has not been in the US a full year or has not made all of their income in the US, it establishes the fact that they are adapting to residency in the US. Tax returns are submitted as proof when immigrants file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.
Non immigrant visa holders only become tax residents if they spend at least 183 days of the year within the borders of the US. However, per the IRS, non immigrants who have been in the US for a total of at least 183 “weighted days” during the prior three years are also classified as tax residents. All the days in the current year count as one day, all days in the previous year are taken as one-third of a day, and all days in the year before that are taken as one-sixth of a day. If the total comes out to 183 days, the non immigrant is required to file a tax return. But this system does not apply to student visa holders and some foreign nationals who work for the government.
Non immigrants who have not been in the US for 183 weighted or non-weighted days and who can prove that they have a tax home abroad can be exempted as tax residents.
Undocumented immigrants do not pay taxes, as they want to avoid government inquiries into their undocumented status. But tens of thousands of undocumented residents file US tax returns every year. The IRS does not ask any information about immigration status on the tax forms. The IRS is not allowed to disclose taxpayer information to other US government agencies. Many people who do not have a legal immigration status hope that filing their taxes will somehow lead them to American citizenship some time later.
Adjustment of status is the last step in the green card or (LPR) process (that of becoming a legal permanent resident). You, the foreign national have to file an I-485 Application for Adjustment of Status, most likely based on a pre-existing and approved or approvable Form I-140 (Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker) or Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative). I-485 applications and I-130 or I-140 petitions can be filed concurrently depending on the immediate availability of an immigrant visa number. You are required to file the adjustment of status application along with an I-693 Medical Examination of Alien issued by a licensed Civil Surgeon and also a G-325A, Biographic Information form. These serve as documents to a complete medical and immunological history as well as a record of your places of employment and residence during the past five years.
The USCIS will schedule a date for you to have your fingerprints, picture and signature recorded for their FBI background check and entry in the USCIS records. Normally, an interview with a USCIS official is required in a majority of cases.
You are allowed to work and travel with a pending adjustment of status application. The application will be considered abandoned if you do not attend a biometrics appointment or interview. Applications may also be rejected if
- The underlying immigrant petition is denied/withdrawn
- You are found to have entered or resided in the US illegally (this may be waived if you originally entered with a valid visa and are an immediate relative of the US citizen-petitioner)
- You are judged as undesirable on the grounds of previous criminal convictions, affiliation with unsuitable political parties/organizations (former members of the Communist Party) and poor character or have weakening health problems, as well as other inadmissible grounds.
Once your Form I-485 is approved, a permanent residency card (green card) valid for ten years will be issued to you. After five years, you will be eligible to apply for naturalization. If you are an LPR who got your green card through marriage, you will be eligible to apply for naturalization after only three years if you are still living with the same spouse who originally filed the petition for you.
If you are a green card holder, you have certain restrictions on your rights. If you marry a foreign born spouse, you may have to remain separated for years from your spouse or family while the paper work needed to get immigration authorization wades through the system. As mentioned earlier, permanent resident cards come with a validity of ten years and you have to renew it on its expiration. You have to file Form I-90, Application to replace green card to get your green card replaced.
Persons who have held asylee or refugee status for one year or more will also qualify to file the application to adjust status to a permanent resident.
However, note that if you are outside the US, you are not eligible to file an application to adjust status to Permanent Resident. Eligible applicants outside the US may get a green card by applying for an Immigrant Visa at a US consulate abroad.