Green cards for French spouses.


U.S. visas and “green cards” for French spouses.

Dear Sir,

During our telephone conversation, you stated that you intend to marry your American fiancée in Atlanta and not in France and you expressed the wish to obtain a ”green card” so you could reside and work in the United States.

With respect to your wish to obtain a green card, there are a number of perquisites. In fact there are two options by which one can seek to achieve such goal:

  • file the requisite papers with a Embassy of the United States, or
  • once having lawfully entered the United States, file for a “change of status”.

Under either scenario, the future American spouse must have sufficient income so as to guarantee to the United States immigration service that the foreign (French) spouse will not become a public charge in the United States. If the future American spouse does not or may not have sufficient income to meet that requirement, one alternative is for a third person with sufficient income to provide the immigration service with a written and legally binding guarantee.

As we discussed, the time necessary to obtain a green card varies significantly according to the situation.

In the event that you elect the “change of status” option, you should expect a processing delay of approximately 6 months.

In the event that your elect to file with the United States Embassy in Paris, it would be prudent to expect a delay of at least 12 months.

I note that the granting of a green card is dependent upon a showing of a good faith marriage and a marriage entered into for the sole purpose of immigrating to the United States would not pass muster.

I also wish to emphasize that the granting of a green card is dependent an administrative decision and that no attorney can guarantee success.

However, my colleague in the United States and I have years of experience in the area of the law and we would be prepared to represent you, if you decide to pursue this goal.

Further thoughts on marriage in the United States

If the marriage is performed in the United States, you will not need to obtain a certificat de coutume et de célibat.

However, in accordance with French Law No. 2006-1376 of 14 November 2006 relating to the validity of any marriages celebrated outside of France since 1ST March 2007, a French fiancé(e) must before the marriage comply with certain administrative procedures at the Atlanta, Chicago. L.A. or New York French Consulate.

While the Consulate’s web site mentions 8 weeks to process the papers, I assume that will take a number of weeks of gather the necessary information and to deal with the eventual follow-up questions of the Consulate.

Possible pre-nuptial agreement

During our telephone conversation today, you also stated that you and your future wife intend to spend the first 18 months of your marriage in China. During such period, your green card dossier could be prepared.

I note in passing that if you do not sign a pre-nuptial agreement, and you remain in China for an extended period, under French law you may have tacitly adopted the Chinese marital regime.

To avoid such “strange” tacit election, a pre-nuptial agreement should be considered.

Please let me know if you need further information at this stage.

Sincerely yours,

Jonathon Wise Polier
Avocat aux Barreaux de Paris et de New York
Attorney-at-Law (Paris & New York)