Definition: Marriage unions between citizens and noncitizens
Significance: Many Americans believe they have the right to marry whomever they wish and to live with their spouses in the United States, even when their marriages are to residents of other countries. This belief and the practice of intermarriage between immigrants and American citizens have helped shape American immigration policy and influenced the composition of American society.
Under early twenty-first century U.S. immigration policies, valid marriages of citizens of the United States of America with foreign-born persons give the citizens the right to petition for permission for their spouses to enter the United States. After approval is given by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, noncitizen spouses may apply for a K-3 visa. This preferential nonimmigrant category has a relatively short waiting period, permits the applicants to apply for work in the United States, and provides the opportunity for permanent resident status. This category of immigration has become a major vehicle for new immigrants to the United States, thanks to the fact that family reunification has become a basic goal of U.S. immigration policy.
Cynthia J. W. Svoboda
See also: Amerasian children; Cable Act of 1922; Child immigrants; Families; Filipino immigrants; Mail-order brides; Marriage; “Marriages of convenience”; War brides; War Brides Act of 1945.