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Marriage Requirements for Foreigners

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Marriage Requirements for Foreigners

There are two situations involving marriage requirements for foreigners:

  1. When both people are foreigners of the country they are getting married in.
  2. When only one person is a foreigner.

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

One version of the first situation is when two U.S. citizens desire to get married abroad, usually somewhere exotic, tropical, or romantic. Popular choices include the Bahamas, various Pacific Islands, and countries in Europe like Italy and Spain. The Department of State offers marriage information for U.S. citizens on the most popular countries.

The United States recognizes all marriages abroad so long as the marriage is done in accordance with all local laws and procedures of the foreign country. This may include lengthy residency requirements, unusual documents such as an "affidavit of eligibility to marry," and the translation of documents. A U.S. Consular Officer abroad can verify and authenticate the marriage documents of the foreign country.

What If Foreigners Want to Be Married in the U.S.?

A minority of states have a residency requirement but, the key issue that foreigners face is whether their countries recognizes U.S. marriages. Foreigners who plan to be married in the U.S. should look into their country’s laws and regulations concerning marriages outside of the country.

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

If married outside of the U.S., the non-U.S. citizen may wish to begin the process of obtaining a "green card" from that foreign country. However, if the non-U.S. citizen plans on getting married to a U.S. citizen within the U.S., he or she should come to the U.S. on a fiancée visa, not a tourist visa.

Should I Contact an Attorney?

If you have concerns about the legality or the legal implications of your marriage, then you should contact a family law attorney. Your attorney can help you resolve any potential legal issues can also advise your with issues such as prenuptial agreements, child custody, and estate planning

Photo of page author Amy Quan

, LegalMatch Legal Writer and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 06-09-2014 03:06 PM PDT

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