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Old Feb 9th 2010, 4:22 pm   #1
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Default To marry in UK or US? UK guy to marry US girl (that currently works in the UK)

... Hello all,

Before I go and pay some immigration lawyer (does anyone know a good one?!?) I've tried but failed to get a reasonably accurate answer to our quandary.

The situation is as follows:

- I am a UK citizen residing in London.
- I met my fiancee 2.5 years ago in London and we recently got engaged. She lives with me.
- She is an American citizen, who over the past 2.75 years been working for the good old NHS in London as a full time employee on a leave to remain permit that expires in 2013
- We will be in the UK another year, before moving to the US (possibly - see below) and she will continue working in the UK
- We want to get married.
- We are indifferent about being married in the UK or the US.
- She wants UK citizenship
- I am not bothered about US Citizenship for another couple of years as the tax implications for me are better to remain a none-US citizen
- We visit the US frequently (business and family)

My questions are:
1. Do you think it is better for us to be married in the US or the UK? What do we need to do to get this process started? Any ideas for US and UK are warmly accepted.
2. Can she take UK citizenship once we are married and what forms etc do we need to complete (before we get married? / after?)
3. Can she take UK citizenship as I don't want to take US citizenship? (just yet)
4. I am thinking of locating to a tax free haven (I don't earn huge money, but my job allows me to locate to where I want, so why not pay as little tax as possible next year, hence can I then take up my option of being a US citizen so when we are ready in 2012 to move to the US full time, we can?

In a nutshell, I think we have a decent amount of flexibility in that she is already in the UK legally, but I am really confused on what to do/what is best!

If anyone does know a great lawyer that they think would help us, that also would be fantastic.

Many thanks !!! Paul
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Old Feb 9th 2010, 4:30 pm   #2
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Default Re: To marry in UK or US? UK guy to marry US girl (that currently works in the UK)

First thing to sort out is the word 'citizenship'.

Your GF can apply for UK citizenship independant of you. IF she qualifies. Whether she does or not depends on the visa type she has now; you can check the UK gov't sites regarding naturalization there (it's a good idea, but she may not be eligible for a couple more years yet).

As for US citizenship, you won't be eligible for that for a good while yet anyway. In order to naturalize and take US citizenship, you need to be a Permanent Resident first.
To be a PR, you need to immigrate first.
However, when you are a PR, you'll be subject to the same taxation rules as a US citizen. This is generally not a problem unless your earned income is in excess of about $90K US.
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Old Feb 9th 2010, 4:38 pm   #3
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Default Re: To marry in UK or US? UK guy to marry US girl (that currently works in the UK)

Hi Meauxna,

thanks for the quick response. You are correct, maybe I should not state 'citizenship', more how to get married in the appropriate manner and what is best. The NHS works full time (foreign) workers like dogs, so one thing that would be nice is if she can work more flexible hours when she is not full time - and the way to do that would be to get married to me (no>?)

Furthermore, we want to reside in the US, just not yet. If it is easier for her to get married in the US, then apply for the correct change of status here (i.e a wife) when we get back to the UK from being married, then we will go that route. Otherwise, getting married in the UK seems like a nightmare
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Old Feb 9th 2010, 4:40 pm   #4
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Default Re: To marry in UK or US? UK guy to marry US girl (that currently works in the UK)

Quote:
Originally Posted by pllonsdale View Post
Do you think it is better for us to be married in the US or the UK? What do we need to do to get this process started? Any ideas for US and UK are warmly accepted.
Immigration-wise, it makes no difference where your marriage takes place. If you want to know more about marrying in the UK, you should try www.uk-yankee.com for more info. To marry in the USA, you'll need to research what is required in the state you want to marry (each US state has different laws).

Quote:
3. Can she take UK citizenship as I don't want to take US citizenship? (just yet)
You won't be able to become a USC anyway, yet, until you have been a US PR for 3 years (if you stay married to your USC wife). You won't become a US PR until you use your Immigrant Visa to enter the USA. You won't have your immigrant visa until you apply for one after you're married.

Quote:
4. I am thinking of locating to a tax free haven (I don't earn huge money, but my job allows me to locate to where I want, so why not pay as little tax as possible next year, hence can I then take up my option of being a US citizen so when we are ready in 2012 to move to the US full time, we can?
No. See above. Your first goal is to get your immigrant visa and become a US PR. US citizenship follows quite a bit later.

Quote:
In a nutshell, I think we have a decent amount of flexibility in that she is already in the UK legally, but I am really confused on what to do/what is best!
From what I can see, you don't want to move to the USA until 2012, which gives you plenty of time to sort things out. Kudos for researching early! However, a lot can change between now and 2 years from now. Do your preliminary research as you're doing, and then about a year before you want to move to the USA, come back and do more research on "Direct Consular Filing (DCF)". If your wife is still in the UK at that time, that will be your best way to immigrate to the USA, if that option is still available.

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Old Feb 9th 2010, 5:50 pm   #5
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Default Re: To marry in UK or US? UK guy to marry US girl (that currently works in the UK)

Some good advice here. I would point out that the residency requirement for UK citizenship drops from 5 years to 3 years, if you are married. Location of the marriage shouldn't really affect things.

http://www.bia.homeoffice.gov.uk/bri...aturalisation/

For me, a spousal visa DCF, took 3 months to complete from application to visa, in 2003 when I moved with my US wife to the US.
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Old Feb 9th 2010, 6:36 pm   #6
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Default Re: To marry in UK or US? UK guy to marry US girl (that currently works in the UK)

Quote:
Originally Posted by pllonsdale View Post
Hi Meauxna,

thanks for the quick response. You are correct, maybe I should not state 'citizenship', more how to get married in the appropriate manner and what is best. The NHS works full time (foreign) workers like dogs, so one thing that would be nice is if she can work more flexible hours when she is not full time - and the way to do that would be to get married to me (no>?)
OK, so this is a question of the visa/status she has in the UK. It sounds like working full time is a condition of her employment visa.
In that case, being married to a UK citizen gives her other visa options. You will need to find out what UK visa type will give her the flexibility she wants and allow her to keep her job (I have no idea, but her job may not be available to her on a PT basis).

Quote:
Furthermore, we want to reside in the US, just not yet. If it is easier for her to get married in the US, then apply for the correct change of status here (i.e a wife) when we get back to the UK from being married, then we will go that route. Otherwise, getting married in the UK seems like a nightmare
From my experience, it is certainly 'easier' to get married in the US vs the UK, if the travel here isn't a problem/factor. I know that there is a spouse visa she can apply for from inside the US and receive inside of a month/6 weeks that will allow her to go back to the UK to live, although it has some temporary provisions. The expense could also be significant, so you might want to check into what you're willing to spend for a relatively limited amount of time in the UK.

There is an immigration discussion group at uk-yankee.com that is much more conversant in the types of UK visas. they can also tell you about the change of status options that may or may not be available to her from inside the UK. You might want to consider a UK immigration adviser for some information to make sure there are no conflicts with her current visa type, re-entering the UK etc.

When it comes to you getting ready to move to the US, generally speaking, you should allow about 6 months for filing and getting your visa. The link in my signature outlines that process with lots of detail. There are some income and 'domicile' considerations for your USC to look at before you get too far along. This is a good time to start your research!
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Old Feb 9th 2010, 9:50 pm   #7
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Default Re: To marry in UK or US? UK guy to marry US girl (that currently works in the UK)

Hello and a big thanks to everyone who has taken the time to respond to my questions. Let me digest this more and revert appropriately - quite a lot to take in!

Paul
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