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Defining a valid marriage for immigration

On Behalf of | May 29, 2023 | immigration |

In California and across the United States, a major challenge that individuals face when attempting to immigrate to the United States via a spousal relationship is proving that their marriage is legitimate. In some instances, a permanent resident can become a U.S. citizen in just three years if they are married to a U.S. citizen. Some factors that are used in determining the validity of the marriage include the status of past marriages, the individual who performed the marriage and the type of marriage.

Types of marriages not recognized

There are certain types of marriages that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) won’t recognize. These include polygamous marriages, civil unions, proxy marriages and relationships for the sole purpose of getting around U.S. immigration laws.

If a person looking to gain citizenship through marriage was married before, they have to be able to prove that all prior marriages have ended either through annulment, death or divorce. They may be required to produce a death certificate or documentation confirming a divorce or annulment.

Common-law marriages

The USCIS will accept common-law marriage if the marriage is recognized as valid by the state where the marriage took place. In order to be a valid vehicle for potential citizenship, the couple has to live in a jurisdiction that recognizes common-law marriage, and the jurisdiction must consider the couple to be married. Additionally, the couple must meet the requirements for common-law marriage in the jurisdiction where they live.

Marriage is more than just a piece of paper. What is considered to be a valid marriage for someone looking for a Green Card is a little bit different than the standards of validity for U.S., citizenship. A couple must be able to prove that their marriage is genuine.