As a Miami immigration lawyer, I sometimes receive questions from clients in regard to the types of marriages that are not acceptable for immigration benefits. This is a very good good question. Below are some marriages that are not unacceptable for immigration benefits.
1. Common Law Marriage
A common law marriage is a marriage whereby the couple lives together for a period of time and holds themselves out to friends, family and the community as “being married,” but never go through a formal ceremony or get a marriage license. Please be aware that common law marriage will not be accepted for immigration purposes unless it is recognized as legal in the jurisdiction of residence or last residence. If you should have any additional questions in regard to common law marriage, please be sure to speak with a Miami immigration lawyer.
2. Customary Marriage
A customary marriage is a marriage that is not performed according to legal proceedings of local civil authorities, but rather, according to local custom. Please be aware that a customary marriage may not suffice for immigration purposes. However, if a customary marriage is recognized by the civil authorities in the place where the marriage was performed, it may be considered a valid marriage for immigration purposes. You should speak with a Miami immigration lawyer if you have any questions about this.
3. Polygamous Marriage
A polygamous marriage is one in which an individual has more than one spouse at one time. Please note that a polygamous marriage is never recognized as a valid marriage. However, that family members of the first marriage of a polygamous family may enjoy their immigration benefits if the benefits have already been conferred. Again, you may want to check with a Miami immigration lawyer to obtain more information.
4. Incestuous Marriage
Incestuous marriage is defined as a marriage between close family members. The validity of incestuous marriage depends on the law of the state where the parties intend to reside. In the state where the incestuous marriage is regarded as a crime, the incestuous marriage is not accepted for immigration purposes, even if this marriage was legally contracted somewhere else. If this situation applies to you, you may want to speak with a Miami immigration attorney for more information.
5. Proxy Marriage
A proxy marriage is a marriage where the parties were not physically present during the marriage ceremony. In general, USCIS will not consider a marriage valid unless both people were present at the marriage ceremony or the marriage was subsequently consummated. This is to prevent marriage by proxy and “mail-order” marriages. Mail order marriages, however, are still allowed if the couple met personally at least once within 2 years of applying for a fiancé visa (K-1) petition. The petitioner must prove that the couple spent time together and that there was ongoing communication between the two prior to filing the petition. However, a party of an unconsummated proxy marriage may enjoy immigration benefits as a fiancé, such as applying for a K-1 visa, if the opposite party is a U.S. citizen. You may want to speak with a Miami immigration lawyer if you have any questions about this.
Note: A 2015 Supreme Court case (Obergefell) has made same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states. As such, legally married same-sex couples are eligible to receive immigration benefits.
If you would like more information on the types of marriages that are unacceptable for immigration purposes, please contact Miami immigration lawyer Michael G. Murray, Esq. at (305) 895-2500 or visit our website at murraysilva.com.