Virtual or proxy marriages are becoming prevalent these days as some couples believe the traditional marriage is no longer practical. While marriages by proxy are okay, advisable even, for arranged marriages and long-distance relationships, it isn’t for everyone.
Military personnel based abroad may also be requested to have a proxy marriage. Marriages by proxy got even more popular during the lockdown due to the pandemic as a foreign fiancé couldn’t make it to the marriage ceremony.
This article addresses questions concerning virtual marriages and their implication for immigration proceedings. If you had a proxy wedding and want to apply for a marriage-based green card, this information will be useful to you.
Does the USCIS Recognize and Accept Proxy Marriages?
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services recognizes and will accept proxy marriage provided the couple consummates the marriage afterward. Also, it’ll recognize the proxy marriage if couples didn’t enter it for the purpose of obtaining immigration benefits.
Meanwhile, the condition that the couple must consummate the relationship doesn’t include having pre-marital sex. Even if they had children before getting married, they need to have sexual relations after the marriage to legitimize it.
Is Marriage by Proxy Still Legal?
Marriage by proxy is legal in several states across the United States, including Montana, Kansas, California, Colorado, and Texas. Montana even accepts double proxy marriage for couples seeking immigration benefits.
The USCIS will accept proxy marriage as long as it is not fraudulent which can result in being put in removal proceedings. Couples often get married by proxy when one spouse is unable to make the wedding for justifiable reasons.
Is Virtual Marriage Legal in the US
Virtual marriage is legal in certain states across the United States, including Utah. The catch here is that the marriage must check all the legal boxes to make it official and acceptable.
To get married virtually in the US, you’ll need to set up an appointment with the county clerk in your region for a marriage license. Then visit the county clerk with the required documents, get signatures from your officiant and witnesses, and get married. Afterward, ensure you consummate the marriage through sexual relations after the wedding.
Can You Get Married Virtually to a Foreigner?
The only state in the United States that currently allows virtual marriages in Utah. You typically don’t have to be a Utah resident to be legally married, although the officiant has to be in Utah.
It is the perfect opportunity for immigrants entirely separated due to closed borders to apply for a spousal visa. To obtain a marriage-based visa, you only need to prove the legal, legitimate, and valid marriage.
How Does a Virtual Wedding Affect Your Immigration Case?
A permanent resident or U.S. citizen can petition for a lawful permanent resident status on behalf of a foreign national’s spouse. The US immigration law generally recognizes proxy virtual weddings, but it has to be legally valid in the jurisdiction it was held.
Also, the couple must consummate the virtual marriage afterward, meaning they need to be together in the same physical place. If the government body that issued the marriage certificate deems the virtual marriage legal, the US government will accept it.
What Is a Proxy Marriage, and Is It Valid for Immigration Purposes?
A proxy marriage occurs, according to United States law, when both persons are not present physically, but present virtually. The immigration laws consider it legally recognized for granting a conditional green card if the couple consummates it after it took place.
If you’ll be having a proxy marriage, you need to ensure the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will recognize it for green card and immigration purposes. To do this, you will need to hire the services of an experienced immigration law firm that can help you provide and review any sensitive or confidential information by the contracting parties thereto.
What Are the Documents Needed to Prove the Validity of a Proxy Marriage?
One of the first things to do to show documentary evidence of a bona fide marriage is by presenting valid documents. The documents need to prove that a relationship existed before the marriage to avoid marriage fraud allegations.
The required documents include an affidavit, written statements, photos, and hotel or plane ticket receipts. If you were married by proxy or virtually and met for your honeymoon, you need the receipts and pictures from your time together.
How Can You Prove a Proxy Marriage is Valid?
While the USCIS recognizes a proxy marriage, the couple needs to prove it is valid and has been consummated. The couple needs to attest in the immigration petition and application that the marriage is recognized for immigration purposes. Other ways could be to tender pre-recorded messages, provide message and data rates between the two parties, and payment of every legal fee that makes the marriage binding.
If they fail to successfully prove a valid proxy marriage, the immigrant will be unable to apply for future marriage-based green card processing. This bar on U.S. citizen spouses’ wife or husbands who wants to have an immigrant come live with them is in line with the Nationality Act.
How Does a Proxy Marriage Work In the United States?
In a physical marriage, the couples are present in the same physical space for the wedding ceremony and to say their marital vows. Usually, it can be a church ceremony that seals the confidential relationship, and until a divorce certificate is issued, other marriages will amount to polygamous marriages.
In a proxy marriage ceremony, one of the individuals could not be physically present; double proxy marriage is when both aren’t present. The availability of virtual applications and any other automated technology has made it possible for two individuals to get married with one or both being physically present.
Proxy marriages are common when one of them is deployed in the military and couldn’t be physically present for the wedding.
A proxy marriage will not be accepted for citizenship purposes if the couple doesn’t consummate it afterward. While they don’t need to submit pictures to prove consummation, they do need an affidavit with proof that they were together in the same place.
Filing for a Marriage-Based Green Card after Proxy Marriage
The citizen spouse, wife, or husband, can start the green card processes for the foreign national spouse once they have consummated the proxy marriage. The consular process starts with the lawful permanent resident filing forms I-130 and I-130A, Petition for Alien Relative, and supplement respectively.
Filing the form is essential because it tells the U.S. government that you have a qualifying relationship for an immigrant visa. You must note that filling out the form does not necessarily secure an easy visa application for the immigrant spouse. Other supporting documents in line with the U.S. immigration law that constitutes acceptance must be provided to the U.S. immigration services.
Is Same-Sex Marriage Valid for Immigration Purposes?
If the jurisdiction where the same-sex wedding ceremony took place acknowledges the marriage, so will the US government. If the same-sex couple resides in a different jurisdiction from where they had matrimonial parties and it doesn’t recognize proxy marriages, immigration officials will conduct a free evaluation of the law of the state the marriage was celebrated to decide its validity.
The same law works for a proxy marriage case involving transgender persons.
Are Foreign Divorces and Subsequent Remarriages Valid for Immigration Purposes?
The validity of foreign divorces depends on the laws of the foreign country where the divorce took place and the US’s reciprocity laws where they remarried. Remarriage to a US citizen is invalid for immigration purposes if the divorce is not final under foreign law.
The adjudicating officer will ensure the court issuing the divorce has the power to do so. The applicant and their former spouse’s domicile state at the time of the divorce is a determining factor for the court’s jurisdiction rights.
Simplify Your Marriage Immigration Process By Hiring Richard Herman
Proving virtual or proxy marriages is no walk in the park. You have to establish a lot of truth after which the appropriate U.S. immigration department will do a zip code search, review the documents, and give a verdict. To avoid getting lost in all of these processes, you need a healthy attorney-client relationship and not some random attorney advertising.
Herman Legal Group is an immigration law firm with a reputation that precedes it everywhere in the United States because of its healthy attorney-client relationship, among others. To schedule a consultation with Richard Herman today, you can call +1-216-696-6170 or book online.
If you’re applying for immigration on the basis of a proxy marriage, the burden is on you to prove its validity to immigration authorities. The US government agency has the liberty to obtain sensitive and confidential information concerning marriage. Meanwhile, if you’re filing forms to obtain a fiancé visa or any other, you’ll be required to pay legal fees.
When proving that the marital relationship with your foreign fiancé is real, you may want to let your immigration lawyer talk you through the process. Working with an experienced immigration attorney from a top-rated law firm is the best option for anything immigration-related in the U.S.