Ok, this isn’t to be a solve-all guide to resolve all your relationship problems and finding the right person for marriage. After all, that is a multi-billion dollar industry that this site isn’t a part of. However, I do want to share with some perspectives on American dating and social normalities to help you understand that even though you are a foreigner in this country, it is quite possible to meet someone from here (or at least legal US Citizen) and have a meaningful relationship to eventually get married for you to get a green card. Keep in mind, this also will take some time because no real (at least not logically) relationship would blossom into a marriage within a short amount time. It makes no sense, especially to Americans, to jump into a marriage right away. The typical process usually involves a few years of solid, monogamous and total commitment before marriage is even considered. A short courtship will also raise suspicions to the USCIS interview officer when reviewing your petition for a green card because it just isn’t likely or the normal path of marriage.
I will assume that you are a student immigrant in America. If you are in America temporarily, such as a B2 tourist, I don’t know how you can use this particular guide because my steps involve at least a few years. In fact, I don’t know how you can really meet someone without the social background of a school that is so conducive for a relationship. Out in the “real world” of working and living, most people keep to themselves. I am sure there are organizations and events out there for working professionals to mingle but at that point of everyone’s lives, skepticism and criterion for a significant other quadruple to a level almost impossible to really find someone. Because outside of the academia bubble, there are actual scammers, conman, dangerous people, people that have other motives or carry STDs. Don’t misunderstand, you are still able to meet people through work, work events, possibly clients and customers at your work, or just random meet cute. I just can’t possibly help you with those because it isn’t as general or predictable.
Find, join and participate in organizations of your cultural background
Unless you came to America to completely shed off your original cultural background, which does happen but rare, you probably can’t really date and live with someone of a very completely different culture. Sometimes, these cultural values clash directly and it just isn’t a pretty sight when a couple is fighting and arguing. Because you are new to America, I know that you still hold your culture and your ways of doing things to be the norm. You probably still miss your country’s food or entertainment. If this is you, which I think most foreigners who just came to America are, you need surround yourself with people of your similar background. America is full of immigrants and undoubtedly, if you attend one of these organizations or clubs at your school that is composed of people from your own culture, you will find 1st or 2nd generation immigrants who are somewhat Americanized, but still understand and appreciate your own culture. This is your opportunity to meet people who are US Citizens, but at the same time is of your culture and someone your family will likely to approve of instead of a random American guy who is oblivious to where you are from and can’t point out on a map where your country is.
Join online dating sites for your ethnicity and culture
Again, not to be an advocate of homogenous mixing, but the fact is, people of similar values get along better than those who have completely opposite or different values. And most of a person’s values come from their upbringing from their parents and family, and the way their parents and family are structured and behave, comes from culture. You stand a much greater chance of having a meaningful relationship that can turn into marriage with someone who understands and is from a similar cultural background. So, join that dating site and get out there.
Take things slow – the major steps, not the little things
Depending on your culture, sometimes people cannot live together or sleep together until they are married. While that may be the norm in your home country, if you are currently with a 1st or 2nd generation immigrant of your culture, chances are they have been somewhat Americanized. What this means is that they probably don’t have as strict of a rule about living or sleeping together as you may have. Of course, if your culture or religion is SUPER strict about these things, and the person understands that, they should also have the same mindset. Otherwise, you have to understand in America, the norm is to have a long courtship where the relationship is monogamous and committed, but just no ‘titles’. It makes alot of sense if you think about it, because you never know how a person really is until you have lived with them, and have been around them 24/7 for months and years. The normal process takes sometimes and things cannot be rushed, unless of course you are on the verge of being deported and the love in the relationship is really strong (or at the beginning)..
Chances are, the person you have met and is with, is half American and half of your own culture. They call this ‘third culture’ because it isn’t exactly American and it also isn’t exactly the original culture. It is a mix, a product of bringing a culture from overseas and combining it with the all-consuming society of America. In this case, for example sometimes he/she may not always prefer the style of food from home. Maybe they want to eat hamburgers instead of gyros. You have to understand that, this is just a side-effect of living in America. Watching American television, listening to American radio, interacting with American friends, it causes a person to accept a new culture and let go some of the old culture. You cannot think of this as the person is turning their backs on their original culture. You should be flexible and understand, if you were here for 20+ years, you would inevitably become the same way. Humans always try to fit into the society they are in because it is a primal instinct to stay in a group to better the chances of survival.
Green card isn’t the objective
Lastly, you have to understand, happiness is the objective here, not a green card. Think about it, why are you trying to immigrate to America? For a better life? For that shot at the American dream right? What is the ultimate objective? It is to live a happy life. All that doesn’t matter if you are with the wrong person, even in America. What if you have a chance to have a happy life in your home country, with a spouse that you are truly happy with and can be with for 50 years? Would you trade that for a green card? I don’t think so. Therefore, don’t view each relationship as ‘is this going to get me my green card’ because the most important thing isn’t the Adjustment of Status that will be discussed next, it is to find someone who you truly want to be with for the rest of your life. That is a dream that transcends any culture or country in the world. Just enjoy the experience, enjoy the relationship, let it fail if it needs to, live life to the fullest and if it is destined, maybe your end goal and the relationship will culminate into a petition for a fulfilling life in America.
The next part is for those who have gotten married, hopefully in a real, bona fide marriage and celebrated in the style according to your culture, riding in on a horse or a Rolls Royce. You can get married anywhere in the world; USCIS does not care where the marriage certificate is produced from. It is a common misconception that you must have a marriage certificate from a state in America. That is not true. As long as the marriage was registered and certificate issued by a government authority of any country, it will be sufficient to serve as your proof of marriage. I have detailed the ways how you can apply for Adjustment of Status to Permanent Residence and there is no need to hire a lawyer in this comprehensive guide here.