Online marriages are perfectly acceptable for U.S. spousal green card applications, as long as the couple can show that the marriage was legally sanctioned and consummated. In this article, we’ll discuss what is meant by a lawful marriage and how couples can go about proving consummation.
As per the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) field manual, the marriage must be considered legal “in the place where it is celebrated.” It’s thus very important, for immigration purposes, to determine the legality of virtual marriages in the governing jurisdiction.
Where in the world are online marriages legal? At the present time, Utah is the only state where web conferencing marriages are lawfully permitted. To get married there, the newlyweds do not have to be U.S. citizens or state residents. All they need to do is:
Given the flexibility around citizenship and residency, a virtual Utah wedding could be a good option for couples seeking a marriage-based green card — as long as one of the spouses is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. Utah’s marriage policy may also provide an opportunity to same-sex couples living in countries prohibiting same-sex marriage.
Let’s say two people — a U.S. citizen and non-U.S. citizen — just got married online “in” Utah. At this point, if they want a green card, they’ll have to prove the marriage was consummated. Why? As it stands, for purposes of immigration, U.S. law requires couples to be in the same place when they get married, “unless the marriage shall have been consummated” (see section 101(a)(35) of the Immigration Nationality Act (INA)).
To prove consummation, couples can collect documents showing that they have been physically together for stretches of time between the marriage ceremony and the filing of the green card application. Evidence might include:
To be clear: the newlyweds must prove consummation occurred after the ceremony, so if they previously had children, they can’t rely on this fact as proof of consummation. If, on the other hand, they had children following the wedding, they can provide birth certificates to show that conception occurred within the appropriate time frame.
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The aforementioned evidence pertains specifically to the legality of the marriage itself, but the spouses will need to gather further proof demonstrating the authenticity of their marriage as well. That is, USCIS will want to know that the newly married couple intends to stay together and that they did not get married purely for immigration purposes.
If you plan to apply for a marriage green card after tying the knot online, our partner Boundless can help. They help you build a tailored visa plan for every step of the process, from forms to your immigration interview. Get started today.
Getting married is complicated. Courtly simplifies the process and provides everything necessary to get married online, including providing a licensed officiant who can perform a remote ceremony.Get Married
Getting married is complicated. Courtly simplifies the process and provides everything necessary to get married online.Learn More