As the world gets smaller, thanks mainly to the internet, we have more and more opportunities to meet people who live in different countries. It's not unusual to become romantically involved with someone from a different culture. I did, and what I found out along the way could fill volumes. Right now I'll just hand out some unasked for advice about what to and what not to do if you are involved in a cross-cultural relationship.
Meeting Your New Foreign Friend
Where you met and where you have spent time together can influence how smoothly your relationship develops. Meeting someone from another country in your own country (for this article let's say your country is the United States) has advantages over meeting them in their country, or in a third country. One reason for this 'home court' advantage is that this new person in your life has a chance to become familiar with American culture and experience knowing you in your natural habitat. Another reason why meeting your significant other right here in the US is advantageous is that their presence in the US means they have the ability to get a visa and will have a better chance of getting a green card if you get married and apply for an immigration visa.
If you met your significant other in their country, say when you are on vacation, working, or studying, the situation is a little less knowable. You have to consider motives and intentions. This is almost impossible to do if you are in love, but you need to be very aware of what is going on. What looks and feels like love may be more than that, or something else entirely. Life and love are not simple, so I'm not saying that the person you have fallen in love with in that far away country is only after a US green card, but you have to take the possibility into consideration for you own protection.
What feels like love may just be a very sweet and charming person trying to get somewhere in life by getting together with you. I try not to be cynical when I travel. I prefer to show some interested and trust in the people who live in the place that I am visiting. I can't blame people in developing and third world countries who try to make the most from the tourists that visit their country. Wouldn't you if tourism was a huge part of your country's economy? Everybody is looking for opportunities in life so as a foreign visitor be aware where you fit into that picture.
The matter of obtaining United States visas is very complicated these days, and expensive and so deserves another article altogether. But if you are thinking about getting serious about this new person whom you love, please start researching visas right away. A great place to learn about US visas is at the Visa Journey Forum. If you don't educate yourself immediately, you may make mistakes that will haunt you later.
One important fact to know about when your new significant other attempts to obtain a visitor visa to United States is that as soon as your friend writes down on the application that he / she wants to visit their girlfriend / boyfriend red flags go up and the visitor visa is automatically denied. Why? Because the State Dept assumes that your friend is intending to immigrate and will just never go home. Guilty until proven innocent is the name of the game in the world of visas. Can you tell that I have first hand knowledge of this pitfall?
My advice about the visa situation is that if you meet someone from another country who is here on a visitor visa or other form of visa and you feel that you may be very serious about them, think about getting married before they leave the country. If you are lucky enough to meet the cross-cultural love of your life in this way you will end up spending a lot less time apart, maybe no time apart, while waiting for an immigration visa to be approved.
Please read 'Love Crosses All Borders – The Tribulations of Cross-Cultural Relationships, Part 2 for more advice about how to make your Cross-cultural relationship work.