Statutes of Liberty: What is Marriage for Immigration Purposes?

This sponsored column is by James Montana, Esq., Doran Shemin, Esq. and Laura Lorenzo, Esq., practicing attorneys at Steelyard LLC, an immigration-focused regulation organization positioned in Arlington, Virginia. The legal information and facts presented below is normal in character. If you want authorized advice, contact James for an appointment.

The response to the concern “What is enjoy?” was answered authoritatively by the philosophical collective regarded as Haddaway in 1993. Appreciate is “Infant Do not Harm Me — Do not Hurt Me — No Far more.” Relationship is distinct. Relationship is a lawful issue. And in the globe of immigration law, the concern “what is relationship?” has a astonishingly complicated response.

Immigrant visa applicants, if the international wife or husband is overseas, and adjustment of status candidates, if the overseas wife or husband is in the United States, ought to demonstrate, by distributing a legitimate certificate of marriage, that they are legally married to a United States citizen or a lawful long-lasting resident.

If the individual has been married just before, they want to show that the earlier marriage was thoroughly terminated just before finding married to their existing wife or husband. As a result, possessing a divorce decree from the suitable authorities is particularly vital.

To make our life easier, the Division of State provides a record of civil files it deems appropriate for each individual state in the environment. Nonetheless, authentic life scenarios won’t usually in good shape the descriptions supplied in a listing. Frequently, we come across a lot of obstacles when striving to confirm a customer is lawfully married or not.

Underneath are some illustrations of difficulties we usually have to offer with:

  • Conventional/customary marriages: These marriages are normally legally binding in the countries where they are done but since their registration is not demanded by regulation, they really do not leave a paper trail.
  • Religious marriages: In some nations, lovebirds can exhibit up at a put of worship and be married by a minister of their religion. Even though they have a “certificate” issued by the minister or church, the query is no matter whether that area of worship or its minister is appropriately approved to celebrate marriages.
  • Proxy marriages: These are marriages the place a single member of the few isn’t bodily present for the relationship or where the couple is pretty much existing but in distinctive locations (assume Zoom or any very similar system). The problem with these marriages is that to confirm their validity In the United States, a single has to verify that the marriage was later on consummated. (What kind of proof would you ask for? — Ed.)
  • Polygamy: Polygamy is suitable and lawful in several international locations and cultures, but it is flatly illegal in the United States. For that reason, those who are practicing polygamy will not be equipped to file a petition for their husband or wife(s) or, in the occasion that the polygamist is the immigrant, the immigrant will not be permitted to come to the United States.

In these cases, proving a relationship is legitimate (or not) requires intense research and usually a whole lot of again and forth with the government. This is all to say that if you are obtaining married, make absolutely sure you’re getting the serious offer. If you are presently married and hoping to bring a liked 1 to the United States or trying to find an immigration reward and you are not absolutely sure about your marital position, seek the advice of with a trusted attorney.

As generally, we’re happy to react to concerns from viewers.