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Quick Guide for Foreign Born Spouse: The US, UK & China (2022)

Foreign born spouse

Every country has different rules and regulations on international marriage. If you are planning to bring your foreign born spouse from the USA, UK and China to your country, here is what you need to know. 

International marriage is very complex to understand. International Marriage affects the citizenship of the children born out of an International Marriage.

International marriages occur when one individual marries another individual from a different country. International marriage is not necessarily a cross-cultural marriage.

Marrying a foreign born spouse

Marrying a Foreigner in the US

For US citizens, there are two ways to bring a foreign born spouse to the United States. You can apply for a fiancé visa if your fiancé is abroad and you plan to marry in the United States. This visa allows your fiancé to enter the United States for 90 days. After marriage, your foreign born spouse can apply for permanent residence and stay in the United States while processing the application. If you choose this method, please submit Form I-129F, Petition (e) for your foreign fiancé. 

Another option is to marry your fiancé abroad. If you are married abroad, you can submit a petition for Form I130, a foreign relative visa, on behalf of your foreign born spouse.

Marrying a Foreigner in the UK

If you are British and want to marry your foreign born spouse in the UK and the foreign born spouse has indefinite leave to remain in the UK (residence), the relevant application is (e) in Appendix FM.

The applicant under this category can only stay up to 6 months in the UK and cannot change the category during their stay. However, once you get married, you can change your marital status without leaving the UK.

Marriage visa – In this visa category, applicants need to marry or form a civil partnership in the UK and give notice of marrying during their stay in the UK. 

Family visa – You can opt for permanent residency in the UK if your partner is a British citizen or resident in the UK, has refugee status in the UK, or qualifies for humanitarian protection.

Unlike the marriage visitor visa category, you do not need to show that you intend to leave the UK at the end of your stay, but you do need to show that you want to live in the UK permanently with your partner. 

Marrying a Foreigner in China

Partners considering international marriage in China must follow the procedures provided by Chinese law. In China, marriages are registered under Chinese law, regardless of the nationality of the parties. It is essential to understand that foreign diplomats, consulates, and religious officials of any country are not allowed to marry in China. According to the current marriage law of the People’s Republic of China, the marriage is registered by the local civil authorities. 

Suppose that your foreign born spouse is a Chinese citizen. In that case, the relevant authority for marriage registration is the central government office of a province, autonomy, or municipality directly under the central government and an office near a Chinese citizen’s residence. 

If both partners are foreigners, registration should take place in the city where one or both partners reside. Generally, at least one partner must live in China. Two foreigners who entered the country on temporary tourist visas are not allowed to register for marriage in China.

Foreign born spouse and the need for marriage registration for children’s citizenship

Registration of international marriage provides security to both partners and their children. A marriage certificate is obligatory for migration to other countries. When a child is born, they are eligible to claim citizenship by descent from both countries from where the father and mother of the child belonged. A marriage certificate of international marriage makes acquiring citizenship for the child easier. A child can also opt for Dual Citizenship with the help of the marriage certificate of parents.

Citizenship of child

If you, your foreign born spouse, or both are US citizens, and your biological child was born abroad, then your child may automatically “acquire” US citizenship. The law requires children who turn 18 on or after February 27, 2001, to meet the following requirements to obtain citizenship through their parents.

  1. One of the children’s parents is a US citizen by birth or naturalization. 
  2. The child is under 18 (if one or both parents are US citizens) and unmarried.
  3. The child lives in the United States after being legally approved as a permanent resident and residing in the United States under the physical and legal custody of the parent, a US citizen.

If your child wants to become a UK citizen, then enrollment is one way of applying for British citizenship. If your child was born in the UK or has UK parents, you automatically become a British citizen. 

Persons whose parents were born in China as stateless or whose nationality is unknown and who have settled in China have Chinese citizenship.

Dual Nationality

Under US law, you cannot choose one citizenship over another. If you hold dual citizenship and are planning to travel to or from the United States, you might need to relinquish your earlier citizenship and apply for a United States passport.

Dual citizenship is allowed in the UK. It means you can be a citizen of a country other than a UK citizen. You can apply for foreign citizenship along with your British citizenship. 

China does not recognize dual citizenship


The governments of the respective countries may have strict bureaucratic procedures for the registration of transnational marriages and may require special visas or documents. Registering an international marriage to support the foreign born spouse and obtain citizenship for the children is always safer. Some couples may need to change citizenship, apply for a long-term visa or obtain dual citizenship or permanent residency if they plan to live together in the same country. Further, the rules for international marriages vary from country to country, so consult an attorney to ensure you follow the proper procedure.

Uncover the steps and procedures for immigration to different nations, with a focus on Turkey to Norway and US to Portugal, in Legamart’s insightful articles.

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