Virtual Weddings and U.S. Immigration Law

One of the many impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic is the great usage of technology and virtual world to communicate with people and complete many daily tasks. In the world of immigration, it has forced many couples to use technology to get married.

What is Proxy Marriage?

Proxy marriage happens when individuals wish to get married however, cannot be present in the same physical location. This can be done by having a person stand in place of the person who cannot be physically present and say the vows on her or his behalf, either by video, telephone or other technology means.

Is It Legal?

Before the pandemic, proxy marriages were usually only allowed for military members who needed a legally binding marriage before coming back to the U.S. but were deployed. States that recognized that type of marriage as legal include, Montana, Colorado, Texas, Kansas and California.

During the pandemic, Utah was added to that list as it was the first state that issued a marriage license to a couple where neither member was in the military, but they wished to have a virtual zoom wedding ceremony due to COVID-19 risks.

Does it Work for U.S. Immigration Purposes?

Section 101(a)(35) states that ‘spouse’, ‘wife’ or ‘husband’ does not include a spouse, wife or a husband by way of any marriage ceremony where the parties were not physically present together at the ceremony, unless the marriage was consummated afterwards.

Note, that it requires the consummation after the ceremony, not before. Therefore, having a child before marriage would not be sufficient. So, how do you show consummation for immigration purposes? By providing sufficient documentation.

Documents Needed for Proxy Marriage

The best way to show immigration that the marriage is bona fide, is by presenting valid documents that will show the relationship before and after marriage. Documents accepted by USCIS include:

  • Affidavits;
  • Photos;
  • Written statements from family and friends; and
  • Hotel, plane tickets, or other receipts to show proof of traveling together or for purposes to visit each other.

We Can Help

The process of ensuring that marriage is legal and bona fide for immigration purposes can be difficult and challenging, especially during the time of a pandemic. At Sobon Law LLC we can work with clients to help them complete the process. Call today 216-586-4246 to schedule your consultation.

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