Foreigners and Life Insurance

Please Note: I am not an attorney. This is not legal advice. Do not take this post as legal advice, as each case is unique. This post is a story about my experience with my spouse during the process of getting my husband’s marriage-based greencard in the US.

For foreigners who have life insurance through their jobs in the US, there are no issues. BUT for foreigners who try to get their own policy (not through work), it can be difficult, even for permanent residents (or foreigners who have a greencard)!

My husband applied for an individual life insurance policy at age 26–the insurance companies generally like young, healthy applicants, so we assumed he’d have no trouble.

During the interview, the agent kept asking, “Now you aren’t planning to go back to your country to live are you?” My husband was definitely NOT planning on that–first, we didn’t have $1000 for a ticket. Secondly, his career is in the film industry, and his country was having huge economic problems–there was no film industry there except pirated DVDs!

So we got the letter. He was REJECTED on the basis that he was from a country with dangerous living conditions!!!

I called the agent and told him that this seemed like a clear case of discrimination based on nationality, despite that my husband is intent on staying in the US. I said that I planned to pursue action against the company unless they would reverse the decision. The problem is that once you are rejected from one company, you are “blacklisted,” and other insurance companies also will tend to reject your application for life insurance. (Plus, I was about to have our first child at the time–we NEEDED life insurance, and there was simply no logical reason my husband shouldn’t have been able to get it.)

To make a long story short, the company reversed their decision. Plus, another company offered him life insurance. We went with the second company.

TIP: If you need an individual policy, work with an agent who has had many foreign clients or who is a foreigner himself or herself. Ours had not, and that was very obvious–I think it made him paranoid, so he may have “heard” our responses differently from how we actually gave them.

Do Foreigners Need a Social Security Number to Get Married?

Please Note: I am not an attorney. This is not legal advice. Do not take this post as legal advice, as each case is unique. This post is a story about my experience with my spouse during the process of getting my husband’s marriage-based greencard in the US.

So, do foreigners need a social security number to get married? When we were married years ago, the answer was NO! We married at the Justice of the Peace near our house. (Then we married in a church later.) It was such a special day:)

BUT for a while, I was afraid we couldn’t get married! My friends had gone to apply for a marriage license and said there was a HUGE sign posted: “Parties must present a social security number to obtain a marriage license.” Well, my fiance (now husband) didn’t have a social security number… I thought, “Great, now we can’t get married because of some dumb number.”

So, I called all of these different Justice of the Peace offices in different states–Pennsylvania, Las Vegas, and so on. They all said you have to show your social security number to get married. Finally one kind lady explained: “If you HAVE a social security number, you must provide it. If you DO NOT HAVE a social security number, then you must sign a document that says you don’t have one.”

I am not sure this law applies to all states, but you can call the Office of the City Clerk where you live to find out (this may also be called the Office of the Town Clerk depending where you live). You can usually find this information on the website of your city government.

When you call, ask: “Does a person need a social security number to get a marriage license in your office?” The person will probably say “Yes.”

Then ask: “What if the person does not have a social security number?” In many places, maybe all, the person will say, “In that case, he or she will sign a document that says he or she has no social security number.”

And then, of course, after you are married, your spouse will be able to get a social security card soon–definitely after receiving the EAD. Read about this here.

Intercultural Marriages, Doctors, and Medicine

Different Countries View Medicine and Doctors Differently–FINE

Ugh. People in different countries have different theories about medicines. In my husband’s country, many people have this WIERD idea that a person should avoid medicine because it weakens the body’s ability to heal itself.

That’s all fine though–my husband can be in pain and refuse to take Tylenol to “give his body a chance to handle it on its own.” Sure, he can claim that Airborne caused his kidneys to hurt. I’ve never heard of that happening to anyone else, but whatever…

Medicine for Children
The part that I can’t handle is when my husband refuses (i.e. tries to refuse) to let me give my children medicine. I give my children medicine in three situations: when they are in PAIN (like teething, which pain is worse than childbirth according to pediatricians), when they are COUGHING non-stop (too uncomfortable), and when the doctor prescribes something. That’s it. I probably give them medicine four or five times a year.

In the past, we got into HUGE fights about this. I finally stopped fighting and started doing things his way–sneaky. In my husband’s country, people think it’s really beneficial and intelligent when people are sneaky. So, I now just don’t listen to him about the medicine, and when he is in a different room busy with something, I give my kids the medicine they need to feel better. Hey, after 9 years of marriage to a foreigner, you learn that not every single detail needs to be discussed–same with marriage within your own culture, I’m sure.

And everyone’s happy. Oh, and if he asks me, of course, I tell him. I have no reason to lie–after all, I’m doing the right thing.

PS. Quick TIP: If you are in this situation, ask your doctor questions while your spouse is there. For example, I asked ours, “If I give my children Tylenol when they are teething, will it make them less able to handle pain?” (my husband’s exact words) It was wonderful to watch the doctor’s face contort into confusion and mild irritation as she answered “Ummmm, NO.” After this, medicine during teething was not as big an issue.