EXPATS WHO MARRY LOCALS MAY FACE ROCKY ROAD TO RESIDENCY

Many expat adventurers abroad find love in their new countries, but often after marriage the road to permanent residency and citizenship can be rocky, according to a first-hand account by the BBC.

With globalization on the rise and more Millennials around the world hitting the road to experience life in another country, the number of marriages between people of different nationalities is rising. The BBC points out that based on 2010 Eurostat data from 30 countries, one in 12 marriages in Europe are between people from different countries.

In Switzerland, for example, one in five locals are married to someone from somewhere else. Down under in Australia about a third of all marriages are to people from different nationalities. Transnational marriages are highest in Singapore, 37 percent, up from 23 percent in 2003. In the United States, the U.S. Census Bureau in 2011 found, in 21 percent of all households, at least one of the spouses was born outside the U.S.millennials-and-technology-latin-america-3-638

With so much concern about immigration these days, it makes life that much harder for those in love with a local. Four years ago the British government introduced a new regulation that requires a British citizen who is marrying a person from another country to serve as their sponsor and have an income of at least US$26,700 or have savings of US$86,000 or more if they have children. In very multicultural Singapore, spouses are usually issued a one-year visitation pass, which also allows them to work.

Back in Europe, the Netherlands, says the BBC, has introduced an “integration abroad exam” to test Dutch language skills and cultural knowledge. Denmark has a “combined attachment” rule under which couples must prove their attachment to Denmark is greater than their attachment to the foreign spouse’s country. This is determined partly by the time spent living in each and expertise in the Danish language.

Will things improve for love-struck expats in the future? As more and more countries place greater immigration emphasis on attracting primarily highly-skilled workers and those with critical skills needed by the country, the path to residency and citizenship may remain difficult for many foreign-born spouses.