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Marriage

While in the United States, many aliens wish to bring their alien spouses abroad to the United States to live together. Aliens of both lawful and unlawful status get married in the United States with U.S. citizens, permanent residents, aliens with valid non-immigration status, or aliens out of status. In any case involving marriage, concern may arise surrounding immigration benefits or statuses for those couples that wish to stay together in the United States. Generally speaking, a U.S. citizen is able to confer immigration benefits to his or her alien spouse where the spouse is already in the U.S. Similarly a U.S. permanent resident may confer immigration benefits to his or her alien spouse.

A Valid Marriage

A marriage must have been valid at the time and place it was performed for it to be recognized as valid by the United States. The law of the place where the marriage was performed or celebrated generally determines the validity of a marriage. The USCIS always takes into account the following requirements when the alien wishes to enjoy the immigration benefits from a marriage:

1. Each party to the marriage must have been legally able to marry;

2. Any prior divorces of either party must have been valid; and

3. The marriage must be legally recognized in the country in which it was performed.

Any marriage not recognized as legal or recognized by civil authorities will not be acceptable for immigration benefits. In a traditional arranged marriage, a marriage organized and decided by the families of the parties involved, those marrying may have little to no interaction or correspondence prior to the actual marriage. Although this would normally be against USCIS policies, traditional arranged marriages are exceptions to the policy due to the traditional and cultural significance of the marriage ceremony. Petitioners must emphasize the ceremony to the USCIS in order to transfer benefits to their new or soon to be spouse.

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