Marriage to a US Citizen
Every year, thousands of foreign-born people become
engaged or married to U.S. citizens. The immigration
process for Green Card through marriage varies based
on whether you intend to marry the U.S. citizen in
the U.S. or outside the U.S. Each of these
situations will require slightly different planning
What Constitutes a Valid Marriage
According to the U.S. immigration laws, the validity
of a marriage is determined by the law of the place
where the marriage was performed, and legal
eligibility of both parties to the marriage.
Certain marriages that are valid and recognized in
the place where they were performed are ineligible
for availing U.S. immigration benefits:
A. Common Law Marriage
Common law marriages are not considered valid under
the U.S. immigration laws unless they are recognized
as legal in the jurisdiction of residence or last
B. Customary Marriage
Marriages performed according to local customs are
not valid under the U.S. immigration laws, if they
are considered invalid by the law of the place where
the marriage was performed.
C. Polygamous Marriage
Polygamous marriages are not recognized under the
U.S. immigration laws even if they were legally
contracted in countries where polygamy is accepted.
D. Incestuous Marriage
Marriages between close family members are not
recognized under the U.S. immigration laws even if
they were legally contracted in countries where such
marriages are accepted
E. Proxy Marriage
A proxy marriage is a marriage performed with one or
both parties to the marriage not physically present
in the ceremony. These are held invalid under U.S.
immigration laws unless the marriage was
subsequently consummated under the laws of the land.
Marriage within the U.S.
If your intended spouse is in the U.S., you may
marry and file the USCIS Form I-130 and for
adjustment of status at the same time. If your
intended spouse is outside the U.S., you may file
for a K-1 visa for him/her.
Eligibility for the K-1 Visa
You must remain unmarried until the arrival of your
fiancee in the U.S., and the wedding must take place
within 90 days of your fiancee's arrival if he/she
is to remain in status. You and your foreign fiancee
must have met personally at least once in the two
years before the petition was filed.