plonkee money an english-er's thoughts on personal finance

September 26, 2008

are joint finances necessary

Filed under: guest posts — Tags: , , , , — plonkee @ 1:00 pm

This is a guest post from Living Almost Large about finance and the American Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS)

Sort of a financial topic but a funny spin on it. I have to say joint accounts are absolutely necessary when you are marrying a foreigner. Sounds counterintuitive, that you should have separate accounts, but actually when you are doing the INS paper work you WANT joint accounts. Otherwise you will be crying I promise!

Since I have experience with this area, I’ll tell you a story. When you are married to a foreigner, everyone else who is thinking of marrying a foreigner or dating a foreigner will ask you what the process is like. For us it was easy-peasy compared to most!

Probably because everything was joint, we were really married, and we documented everything. I did cry at the INS, but heck we had been waiting hours only to find out we hadn’t filled out all the paperwork necessary.

At the time we were too broke to afford a lawyer so we had to sit and meticulously fill out everything. We carried a box with EVERYTHING. We had our mortgage, bank statements, copies of credit cards, titles of cars, pictures, etc. You name it we had it.

But back to why you want a joint account. Our friends got married at the same time and were interviewing at the same time, etc. Except the man was an American and the woman Brazilian, and they had meet while he was vacationing in Brazil. My DH and I met while in school and were living together. They were “long distance” dating and then got married.

So we had everything together because well we lived together. We knew the day was coming so we set up everything joint, insurance, car titles, bank accounts, etc. But our friends well it was hard to do everything because they had to apply for a fiance visa, then get married, then start making everything joint after the wife moved here. And they had only been dating 12 – 18 months or something short. We had been living together almost 5 years prior.

Anyway, the husband hadn’t had time to add his wife to his accounts, she wasn’t on the mortgage, not on the car, not a beneficiary for life insurance. And it looked bad. They had a very rough time with the interview and getting their spousal green card.

For us it took us 6 months to get the card, they waited over 1 year. They were investigated and interviewed more intensively than we were. Our interview was 15 minutes and basically the person just reviewed all the paperwork. You submit everything, wait a long time, then go back for an interview. They review everything, then get back to you.

As we were relating our stories, they admitted they hadn’t planned or thought through the process at all. Hence the difficulties. After 2 years of green card you get to remove the conditional status and apply for permenant status.

Anyway, the moral of the story? After hearing their story and others similar to it, we figured our we had cruised through our interview and process WITHOUT a lawyer. Yep we were probably more married than the rest of them. So if you are considering marriage and getting a green card, tip – start setting things up joint asap. Trying to show you are married with all seperate accounts is more hassle than it’s worth.

Beside you have to talk finances eventually. And it should be done before marriage anyway.

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