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Three ways that partnership can affect your US immigration

(Partner content) If you are considering moving to the States, be aware of some of the limitations that may come with your partnership.


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Moving to the United States is a desirable option for South Africans looking for a change of scenery and a new life abroad. Thousands of South Africans have made the US their home, but are you aware of some of the difficulties that may arise depending on your relationship status? How exactly will your partnership affect your move?

We spoke to the immigration specialists at Grant Kaplan and Associates to find out what some of the common limitations are. 

Your spouse is a US citizen, but you are not

Once you have decided to spend your married life in the United States, you will need to apply for a marriage green card. 

A marriage green card allows the spouse of a US citizen or green card holder to live and work anywhere in the United States. The spouse will have permanent resident status until they apply for US citizenship, which is available after three years. 

Getting a marriage green card

  1. Establish the marriage relationship
  2. Apply for a green card
  3. Attend an interview and await approval

You are in a same-sex relationship

Whilst same-sex marriage is legal in 37 of the 50 US states, that still leaves 13 states that do not recognise same-sex partnerships. 

If you are in a same-sex partnership and are considering moving to the US, it may be worthwhile first getting married in South Africa, where the laws are a lot more progressive and inclusive. 

Your fiancé is about to get a green card 

If your fiancé is expecting to imminently receive a green card, is it more worthwhile getting married in South Africa and then moving over together, or should you move to the US together and get married there? 

The answer is that if your fiancé is not yet a US citizen, but has a US permanent residence or green card, you cannot go to the US until you’re married. Once you are married, this approval takes time. It would be in your best interests to consult an immigration lawyer who will be able to help you time your marriage and departure to best benefit your immigration status.

Grant Kaplan is an immigration lawyer based in Florida who has helped thousands of families, business people and individuals make the move to the United States. The Law Offices of Grant Kaplan provide a full immigration service for all visa categories. Tel +1 561 347 8440 or email