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How does U.S. law define 'spouse' for immigration purposes?

Immigration Services

Some U.S. citizens from Kentucky and elsewhere fell in love with someone abroad and married them. Following that, the U.S. citizen and their new spouse may wish to live in the United States. In situations like this, they will need to obtain an immigrant visa for a spouse of a U.S. citizen.

It is important, first, to understand who qualifies as a spouse for immigration purposes. A spouse is a husband or wife that is legally married to another person. Just cohabitating without having married is not enough for a person to be considered a spouse for immigration purposes.

Some people may have what is considered a common-law marriage. In general, this is an arrangement between the spouses who hold themselves out be married, but do not go through any civil or religious ceremony. Whether a common-law husband or wife qualifies as a spouse with regards to immigration is dependent on the laws of the nation in which the common-law marriage took place.

Some countries permit polygamy. This means that a person may have more than one wife or more than one husband. While these marriages may be lawful in the country where the immigrant spouses live, the United States will only recognize the first spouse for immigration purposes.

Knowing who qualifies as a spouse is the first step in the process of applying for an immigrant visa for a spouse of a U.S. citizen. If a person is not considered a spouse under U.S. law, they will not be able to obtain such a visa. There are numerous forms to file and other qualifications to meet in order for a spouse of a U.S. citizen to obtain an immigrant visa. Those with questions about the family immigration process are encouraged to seek out the help they need to ensure no crucial step is overlooked.

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