I've started interviewing abroad (United States so far, but applications exist for other countries as well), and I'm curious about the protocol for dealing with my common-law spouse. Should I mention her only once an offer occurs, earlier, or not at all?

Cursory reading about the USA's visas seems to indicate that she'd qualify by default for an H-4 visa so long as I had a visa for immigration, so I don't think that the employer would have to do anything particularly special, but I don't want to surprise anyone or jeopardize a position.

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    I would suggest finding out the situation for certain (from immigration, for example) before mentioning it to a potential employer. Commented Jan 20, 2014 at 16:26
  • 3
    In the US it's okay to mention your spouse during the interview. If you don't want to mention your spouse that's fine. A US employer shouldn't ask about your spouse. I might mention a spouse during discussion of salary, benefits and relocation expenses. If you have specific questions about your wife's visa status, I would ask the US embassy or consulate in your country. They're less likely to get the answer wrong than the employer or a head-hunter.
    – ipaul
    Commented Jan 20, 2014 at 18:10
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    you mention your wife is a "common-law spouse". in the U.S. a common-law marriage is one that was not formalized by any document, and that might be a problem for immigration purposes. You might want to clarify what you mean by that.
    – nohat
    Commented Jan 20, 2014 at 21:35
  • @nohat We are a Canadian common law couple, best defined under the Alberta definition of a Adult Interdependent relationship. It's a good point though-- she possibly could be called my 'girlfriend' under more strict definitions. I mean, at a certain point this becomes the domain of immigration lawyers. I was mostly curious about if, and or when to raise the topic when talking to a potential employer.
    – HamsHroon
    Commented Jan 20, 2014 at 22:31

3 Answers 3


As for the United States, marital status is a protected category and it's illegal to make a hiring decision based on it. However, once you have accepted an offer, you'll have to mention it in order for the immigration process to get a dependent visa for your spouse. The employer's immigration attorneys will have to take care of that and they'll need to know about her.

However, as noted in your comment, you're not married according to U.S. immigration law, so your common-law spouse will not qualify for a dependent spouse visa under whatever visa the employer uses to sponsor you to work in the U.S. You'd have to get a marriage license. I'd advise getting that before accepting any offers because U.S. immigration is very wary of sham marriages and it's harder to prove your marriage is "real" if the date of the wedding is too "convenient".

I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice. It's just personal advice.

  • Good point. I'll probably have to make any acceptance of an offer conditional on being able to get her through -- That'd be a real kick in the balls, but also just the reality of the situation. Definitely will bring it up sooner rather than later, out of respect for both our times; mine and the company's.
    – HamsHroon
    Commented Jan 21, 2014 at 2:06
  • And if you are same sex couple and unable to legally marry where you are, the chances of getting a visa for your partner would be low indeed if even possible. In any event you need to consult an immigration lawyer in the country you want to immigrate to. You need to do this before even looking at any offers.
    – HLGEM
    Commented Jan 21, 2014 at 22:48
  • @HLGEM OP hasn't indicated his or her gender, but if they are a same-sex couple, at for immigration purposes to the United States, a spouse is eligible for a spouse visa, thanks to the Supreme Court's Hollingsworth decision uscis.gov/family/same-sex-marriages
    – nohat
    Commented Jan 21, 2014 at 23:08
  • Not Correct for the US. The employer has no dealing with the partner application. Once the "principal" visa is dealt with then the "dependent" (spouse and kids) visas can be produced without any involvement by the principal's employer.
    – Ghaag
    Commented Jun 10, 2014 at 3:09

Having been through this recently I can say that in my case it didn't need to be mentioned. The employer might offer legal assistance as part of the relocation package but they do not have to be involved for your partner.

You might want to be careful regarding the visa as H4 is not eligible to work in the US. You may want to consider or suggest a visa other than H1 if your partner intends to work.

The point about Marriage is important as US immigration ask for a marriage certificate and I doubt very much that other type of civil partnership would grant the same eligibilities. In my case the date of the marriage was scrutinize so I would recommend to get married before applying for the visa.

If in doubt, please get real professional advice as this is only personal opinion based on my specific circumstances rather than legal advice.

  • For the US I came from the EU but I travelled a bit in Asia and throughout Europe and never had to raise the questions of dependents to the employer.
    – Ghaag
    Commented Jun 10, 2014 at 16:26

The answer depends highly on the country you are interviewing at. In the US it's illegal for the interviewer to ask about marital status, age, family etc. In Germany that's typically this is info is often right on top of your resume.

While it's illegal in the US to ask, it's in no way illegal or undesirable for you to bring it up. Especially if you expect relocation and/or immigration assistance that will be impacted by the existence of your spouse/partner/girlfriend. Your employer will budget for these things and it doesn't make a good impression if new info pops up after the fact that significantly impacts these costs. Being upfront can ease the whole process and avoid sour after tastes. Your prospective employer may also have there immigration guys look at your specific situation and give a quick assessment which could help both parties here.

Frankly, I don't see any reason why you would NOT bring it up. What specifically are you worried about?

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