An informative guide on laws and regulations for marriage in the US for foreigners

As a US citizen or permanent resident, you can marry a foreign national or a non-immigrant – but you will be required to consider immigration laws for moving your spouse to the US permanently. Marrying a non-US citizen should not be violating local laws. The obligations for marriage in the US for Foreigners are the same as they are for a US citizen. For identification, your passport is usually required but some states require copies of the birth certificates to prove the identity of both partners.

Before making wedding plans with a US resident you should ask for the requirements from the local marriage office or the county clerk so that you can gather all the documents needed for your marriage that will help to legalize your marriage in any country or state.

To know how to plan on marrying a US citizen and what are the laws of marriage in the US for foreigners keep reading the article.

us marriage
Source: medium
  • What’s in the guide?
  • Legal requirements marriage in the US for Foreigners
  • Requirements to show legal marriage
  • A bona fide marriage
  • Proof of the US identity
  • This should be your only marriage
  • Do you need a lawyer to obtain a green card through marriage?

Legal requirements marriage in the US for Foreigners

Marrying a US permanent resident or US citizen can make you eligible to lawfully apply for residence in the United States. This may generally be called applying for a green card or marriage-based immigrant visa. For this, you and your partner/Spouse must provide the following requirements under the US immigration law:

  • Documents that prove you and your partner are legally married.
  • Proof of the US citizenship or residential status of your spouse through legal petitioning.
  • Proof of your marriage is bona fide or authentic and not just being done for obtaining a green card.
  • Neither your spouse is married to anyone else in the US.
Legal requirements marriage in the US for Foreigners
Source: gazette

These issues are briefly discussed in the next part of the article which will help you comprehend these requirements further.

Requirements to show legal marriage

To obtain a green card or married-based visa you must prove that you are legally married. It is the legal document that is recognized by any state or county where you both get married. This significantly shows an official record of a marriage that the Government can obtain from the concerned legal office.

On the other hand, a domestic partnership where two individuals live together but are not formally recognized by many states and counties is why they are not found eligible for the immigration process. Although, if the state where you live together recognizes domestic marriages and comply with the legislation of common-law marriages, then you can show the required documents that are needed to legally recognize your marriage and make you eligible to start your immigration process. If you believe that your domestic relation has entered into a common-law marriage you can consult a family law attorney.

Proof of the legally married couple is a marriage certificate issued from a legitimate government office. It’s also important to note here, that a marriage certificate and marriage license are completely different documents. However, if you have signed your license in front of a witness, then it can be used as a marriage certificate in some places.

bona fide marriage
Source: wedaways

A bona fide marriage

The term bona fide marriage is used for the couples who intend to live together as husband and wife from the start of their relationship. A marriage that is done for a sole purpose and to have benefited from a US resident is considered as a fraudulent or sham marriage and uncovering them remains at the top priorities of USCIS.

USCIS does everything to figure out if a marriage is Bonafide and is very strict while investigating. They may ask a lot of questions while you apply for a marriage-based visa. They will demand extensive documentation and make sure that the couple has established a relationship together.

Proof of the US identity

Generally, two kinds of individuals are eligible who have residential rights that allow them to have a green card or permanent residence for their spouses. The US legal permanent residents (holders of a green card) and US-born citizens.

Individuals with the temporary right to reside in the US (such as a work visa) cannot file petitions to have a residence for their spouses. However, depending on the work, they can bring their spouses to the US for a short-term period or on a visit visa.

Ways that your spouse may become a US citizen may include:

  • Born citizen of the US or its regions
  • Became a citizen through testing and application
  • Acquired citizenship through a family member.
Proof of the US identity
Source: thoughtco

This should be your only marriage

People often forget about their past and move on to start a new life. It’s a good sign to have emotional stability. But the US government doesn’t make you forget it that easily if you want to enter within the US in any other state with a new marriage.

If the marriage is over because of death, divorce, or any other means, you have to provide the official and legal documents that prove that the marriage is no more. Otherwise, USCIS will figure out if the marriage is still active or not and will make your marriage-based visa application a sham. 

Do you need a lawyer to obtain a green card through marriage?

There are complications while you fill out your marriage-based visa or green card application. Many people find it easy to say that the marriage-based green card obtaining process is simple, but that does not support reality. To have your application approved for a green card, you must have an attorney at your back. Why do you need one? Check here.

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