Demystifying U.S. Immigration: Citizenship through marriage

Marrying a U.S. citizen is not a guarantee of permanent residency or citizenship. Marriage does not automatically transfer to permission to enter and reside in the U.S. After marriage, the U.S. citizenship spouse must petition for residency on behalf of the alien, but is not obligated to do so. There are many requirements beyond the marriage itself, including financial security and proving the relationship to be real. To disprove marriage fraud, the alien must be able to answer questions about details of their married life and place of abode. For example, the UCSIS might inquire, “How many times a week does your husband speak to his mother?” or “What brand is the television in your living room?” If the alien entered the U.S. illegally, permanent residency is prohibited, and the alien must leave the U.S. for up to ten years before attempting to re-enter legally.

The idea that aliens can become legal simply by marrying a U.S. citizen is not true. The burden is on the couple to prove the marriage, relationship and support is valid, a task that is difficult for even legitimate couples to accomplish.