Marriage Requirements for Foreigners

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 Are There Separate Marriage Requirements for Foreigners?

The United States has its own set of marriage laws that apply to everyone, whether a U.S. citizen or a foreigner. Each of the 50 states in the U.S. has its jurisdiction over marriage laws for foreigners and citizens.

Firstly, a foreigner wishing to marry in the U.S. needs to be legally free to marry and should not currently be married to anyone else. This requirement can typically be satisfied by providing a document from their home country, often known as a “Certificate of No Impediment” or “Single Status Certificate,” which states that they are legally single and free to marry.

Secondly, valid identification is required. This often means a valid passport, but other forms of government-issued I.D. may also be acceptable. Some states may also require proof of age, such as a birth certificate. In the U.S., the minimum age to marry without parental consent varies by state but is typically 18.

Some states do not require any period of residency before you can marry, whereas others may require a waiting period after obtaining the marriage license before the marriage can take place. This waiting period can range from a few days to a few weeks.

Foreigners should also be aware that the U.S. recognizes both opposite-sex and same-sex marriages, regardless of the laws in the foreigner’s home country.

Marrying a U.S. citizen or permanent resident does not automatically grant a foreigner U.S. citizenship or permanent residence status. To live in the U.S. after marrying, the foreigner typically needs to apply for an Adjustment of Status to become a Permanent Resident (often referred to as applying for a Green Card). This is a separate process from the marriage itself and has its own set of requirements and procedures, including proving that the marriage is bona fide and not merely for immigration benefits.

What is an Immigrant Visa?

An immigrant visa, on the other hand, is a type of visa issued to persons with a documented purpose of living permanently in the country issuing the visa. In the United States, this could be a family-based immigrant visa (for those with close relatives already living in the U.S.) or an employment-based immigrant visa (for those who have a prospective employer in the U.S.). A foreigner who marries a U.S. citizen, for instance, may apply for a family-based immigrant visa.

A local immigration attorney can help navigate the intricacies of these processes. They have knowledge of U.S. laws and can guide you through paperwork and legal procedures and provide advice on how best to proceed. They can also assist in understanding and complying with residency requirements and addressing any legal challenges that may arise during the process.

What Happens if Two U.S. Citizens Get Married in a Foreign Country?

When two U.S. citizens get married in a foreign country, the marriage is generally considered valid in the U.S. as long as it complies with the local law of the foreign country and international law. U.S. states are required by the “Full Faith and Credit Clause” of the U.S. Constitution to recognize marriages legally performed in other states and countries, provided they do not violate strong public policy.

However, getting married in a foreign country can have several legal implications. Firstly, the couple must ensure they comply with the marriage requirements of the country where the wedding is taking place. These can vary widely, including waiting periods, residency requirements, and documentation requirements.

Secondly, even if the marriage is considered valid in the U.S., the couple may need to obtain an authenticated marriage certificate from the foreign country to have a record of the marriage in the U.S. This may involve additional steps, such as translation and authentication through a process called apostille, depending on the foreign country’s rules.

Thirdly, if the couple has children or acquires assets in a foreign country, they may need to navigate the laws of that country regarding property and custody rights. This navigation of laws can be complex and require local legal advice.

Furthermore, if the couple decides to divorce, the foreign marriage might complicate the divorce proceedings. While most states recognize foreign marriages, some may have different rules when it comes to recognizing foreign divorces.

Lastly, the couple may also have to consider tax implications. The U.S. taxes its citizens on worldwide income, and being married can affect one’s tax situation. Consult with a tax advisor to understand these implications.

What Happens if a U.S. Citizen Marries a Foreigner?

If a U.S. citizen marries a foreigner, they may have multiple immigration avenues available to bring their spouse to live permanently in the U.S.

One such avenue is the “Immigrant Petition for Alien Relative” (Form I-130), which allows a U.S. citizen to establish the existence of a qualifying relationship with their foreign spouse. Once approved, it serves as the basis for your spouse to apply for a family-based immigrant visa or, if they are already in the U.S., to adjust their status to a permanent resident.

A U.S. citizen can also bring their foreign fiancé(e) to the U.S. on a K-1 visa, or Fiancé(e) visa. After entering the U.S., the couple must marry within 90 days, after which the foreign spouse can apply to adjust status to a permanent resident.

Both processes involve proving the marriage is bona fide and not just for immigration benefits. They may also involve various waiting periods, visa interviews, and additional requirements.

What if Foreigners Want to Get Married in the U.S.?

When foreigners intend to get married in the U.S., they have the legal right to do so, regardless of their immigration status. They must comply with the marriage laws of the state where they intend to marry, which often involves providing valid identification, proof of eligibility to marry, and meeting any residency or waiting period requirements.

If a foreigner marries a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in the U.S., they can typically then apply to adjust their status to a permanent resident while remaining in the U.S. If they entered the U.S. on a visa such as a tourist visa with the sole intention of marrying and staying in the U.S.; however, this can be considered visa fraud.

Should I Contact an Attorney?

Given the complexities and potential consequences involved in these processes, it is highly advisable to consult with an attorney. A knowledgeable family lawyer can provide valuable assistance in navigating the intricacies of marriage laws, immigrant petitions, visas, and status adjustments.

LegalMatch is an excellent resource for finding the right attorney for your situation. LegalMatch is a trusted online legal matching service that can connect you with a local, experienced attorney who handles cases in the area of law that fits your needs.

Whether you’re considering marrying a foreigner as a U.S. citizen or you’re a foreigner intending to marry in the U.S., LegalMatch’s online attorney-client matching system can help you find the right attorney to ensure you understand and properly navigate the process.

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