Category Archives: Marrying an Asian Woman

Green card advice

3 things to keep in mind once you are married and have your green card

In my last post I talked about the three most important things my Japanese wife and I learned about the US green card application process. It was grueling at times, and I was totally sick and tired of filling paperwork by the time it was finished. Of course it was totally worth it though, as it allowed my wife to live with me legally here in the US.

It was such a great feeling for us both to get that green card in the mail, and it immediately erased our concerns about being able to live together here in the US. We assumed that once we had the card, there was nothing else to worry about and we could live happily ever after – but there are some things that we’ve encountered over the years that we weren’t expecting. For the record, my wife has had her green card for 6 years now.

Here’s what my Japanese wife and I learned about being a US green card holder:

1). You have to keep records of everything.

And by everything, I literally mean everything. When you are first issued a green card, you are basically being put on probation for two years. This means that once two years have passed, you will be required to submit proof to the US government that you are not a criminal and you are still married (and therefore legally able to be a green card holder). Since my wife’s green card is dependent on her marriage to me, a US citizen, we must remain married and living together for her to keep that card.

The government wants proof of that. Pictures, documents, letters from friends and family – they want as much info as you can provide to show proof. We didn’t submit enough proof the first time, and our renewal application was rejected (which I’ll admit was a bit scary to get that letter). Once we submitted more pics and letters from friends and neighbors, our application was accepted and the probation period of my wife’s green card was lifted.

We will be required to provide the same proof at the 10 year mark, so you can bet that we are documenting as much as we can to make that next review period to go that much smoother.

2). Green card holders must carry it with them at all times.

We learned this one the hard way, while coming back from a vacation from Paris in 2011. My wife realized that she forgot to bring her green card while we were at the airport in Paris ready to hop a flight back to the US, and it took a lot of begging from the US consulate there at the airport to let her on that airplane. Once we arrived in the US, the immigration officials weren’t so nice with her. She was detained for about an hour, given a stern talking to, and was fined nearly $500. Ouch. Lesson learned.

3). The name on the green card does not need to match what is on the passport.

My wife decided to use her married name on the green card, while leaving her passport in her maiden name. This has caused zero problems for her traveling abroad and then re-entering the US. At first she always brought the marriage certificate with her just in case as proof of the name change, but US immigration officials have never once asked to see it. They already have the information in their database obviously.

Marriage and green card difficulties is one of the biggest hurdles western men face when dating in Asia. Yes, it can be a bit complicated at times, and you have to be organized, but the benefits far outweigh the negatives IMHO. Don’t worry so much – pursue that Asian woman who likes you so much and make her your wife. I’m living proof that it’s one of the best decisions you’ll ever make!

US Green Card

The 3 most important things we learned while applying for my wife’s green card

Ok. So you’ve been successful with the online dating thing and you met the woman (or man) of your dreams. The next step (if you’re brave enough) is marriage, which is undoubtedly an exciting and amazing situation to be in. I remember the feeling when my wife and I decided to get married, and there really isn’t any other feeling like it. We were scared shitless, but also felt like we were on top of the world and that our lives were now “complete”. I met her on JapanCupid by the way – a dating website I’ve already talked a lot about and highly recommend.

So now that you’ve decided to take the plunge and get married, the real challenge begins. Marriage between a citizen of the US and a citizen of another country is a very complicated thing, and I highly suggest you look into the current requirements before proceeding. The act of getting married isn’t any more difficult than it would be if it were two persons of the same nationality, but being able to actually live together is where things get tricky.

Most western men who meet women online in Asia (or anywhere else) start the application for the green card before getting married. This is a long process, often taking years to complete. But you don’t actually have to do it this way. My wife and I decided to get married before we actually had the green card, since she was already in the US on the visa waiver program. We were thrilled to find out that we could do it that way, but it wasn’t the most interesting nugget of info we learned during our application process.

Here are 3 really important things we learned while applying for a green card:

1. You will need an immigration lawyer to guide you through the process.

I’m the kind of guy who likes to do everything himself, and I was determined to do all the research and paperwork for the green card on my own. It didn’t take more than a day to realize that applying for a US green card is a complicated process and any mistakes could delay or even cancel the application. We didn’t want to run the risk of screwing something up, so we hired an immigration lawyer to guide us through the process and do all the paperwork for us. It was money well spent.

2. The amount of paperwork required is frustrating.

All I can say to you is this: be prepared to fill out stacks of paperwork spanning months at a time. Also, this paperwork will require a lot of research and documentation on your part to fill in things like work history, places you’ve lived (with addresses, phone numbers, and references), bank account history, etc. The background checks are thorough – for both the husband and wife.

3. You can screw the application process up really bad and things will still be ok.

We made one huge mistake during our application process that I thought for sure would immediately cancel our application: we MISSED our final in-person interview with the immigration officer. This interview is the last step of the green card application process, requiring you both to meet with an US immigration officer who will review your application and ask a lot of questions. My wife and I accidentally wrote down the wrong date for our appointment, and we missed it completely. We were a no-show, and once I realized what happened I thought for sure we were screwed. Long story short (and a lot of phone calls and apologizing later), we were granted a second interview slot. But they warned us if we missed it again the application would be cancelled.

The process of applying for a US green card was a very tiring and stressful experience (all that paperwork!), but it was completely worth it in the end. Our application took eight months to complete, but that was back in 2009 so I’m not really sure what the timeline is now. But we powered through it, and my Japanese wife is now a certified permanent resident of the US with the green card to prove it.