Saturday, 14 November 2015

US Marriage Requirements for Non-Citizens

Fiancee Visa / K-1 Visa
If you wish to bring your fiancé (Male) or Fiancée (Female) to the USA with the intention of marriage you will need
1.    You the petitioner will need to be a USA citizen
2.    You intend to marry within 90 days of your fiancé (e) enters the US. (If you do not marry within the 90 day period the visa will expire and can not be renewed)
3.    To have met with your fiancée or Fiancé in person within the last two years before you will be eligible to apply for a Fiance Visa - US Fiance Visa USA (K-1 Visa). (This is a non-immigrant visa).
4.    You will need to be of legal age usually 18 years of age but may vary from state to state see a guidline
5.    You will need to be free to marry. In other words you may not already be married and if you have been previously married you will need to provide a final decree of divorce or death certificate where applicable.
6.    You will need a valid identification this varies from county to county and state to state therefore its imperative that you contact your local county for their specific requirements.
7.    Any relevant documents e.g. birth certificates, decree of divorce etc will need to be certified or notarized as true copies.
8.    Some countries will require their own citizens to apply for a “Freedom to marry certificate” also know as a “Letter of no-impediment” proving that according to their records the person is free to marry outside of their country of citizenship.
9.    You will need to apply for a marriage license in your local county and fees are charged therefore it’s important to know exactly what fees are charged in your county.
10. You will need to be married by a legal Marriage Official it remains your responsibility to ensure that the Marriage Official is legit and will complete and submit your marriage documents after the marriage.
11. For other requirements such as cousin marriage, common law marriage, blood tests, same sex marriage etc per state see
12. In many cases there are processing times for a marriage license prior to marriage and  your license will expire in a certain amount of time. Therefore its important to see a guideline and contact your local county for updated information
USA marriage information
Other important notes
·         Marrying anyone in the USA does not automatically grant them any special resident privileges in the USA. They will still need to apply for resident or citizenship status like any other person.
·         Once you married (assuming you want to live in the USA) you will need to apply for a more permanent status. Green Card for Wife or Husband
·         You can adjust your current status to a more permanent status (see Green Card: Become a Permanent Resident While in the U.S. (Adjust Status)).
·         Legal permanent residents may not file petitions to apply for a fiancé / fiancée visa (K-1 visa), although they may petition the immigration of their new wife or husband after the wedding (see Green Card for Wife or Husband, Sponsoring a Spouse for USA Permanent Resident Visa.
·         If your fiancé(e) has a child (under 21 and unmarried), a K-2 nonimmigrant visa may be available to him or her. Be sure to include the names of your fiancé(e)’s children on your Form I-129F petition.
·         After admission, your fiancé(e) may immediately apply for permission to work by filing a Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization with the USCIS Service Center having jurisdiction over your place of residence

You can contact the USCIS toll-free information service at 1-800-375-5283 for more information

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Common Law Marriage - What you should Know!

Common Law Marriage – What you should know!
The term Common Law Marriage is often misunderstood as cohabitation, normalized unions, unformed marriage etc. Although in some instances the state will view it through the same lens as a common law marriage for the benefit of their taxes, federal provisions etc. One should realize that you can only enter in to a legal and recognized Common Law Marriage where the state recognizes it as a legal institution. You can’t enter into a Common Law Marriage on your own steam and believe that your state or country will recognize it as legal marriage entitling your to the same benefits as a legally married couple.

Traditionally in a Common Law marriage the couple lives together and demonstrates the same commitment and dedication to each other as if they where legally married, even if  the marriage was never officially done by a marriage official, religious or social ceremony. A legal Common Law Marriage must still be contracted into through a civil registration for purposes of probate only e.g. complying with your states laws and requirements where applicable.

Note; there is no such thing as "common-law divorce” that is, you cannot get out of a Common law Marriage by simply self-dissolving it. People who entered into a civil registration for their Common Law Marriage must still petition the appropriate court in their state for dissolution of marriage.
A Punitive Marriage (legal technical error in marriage e.g. wrong jurisdiction marriage, good faith marriage by at least one partner), may be entitled to legal rights and benefits ( although this is reviewed on a case by case study).

Reasons for Common Law marriage.
There are several reasons for Common Law marriages
·         Same sex couples could not legally be married
·         Some couples view marriage as a religious institution
·         Some couples simply never formally married

The latter reason “Where couples simply never got married” is often due to a belief that if you live together for a certain amount of time that the state will view their cohabitation as a Common Law Marriage (similar to a legally married couple) and therefore one of the partners will be entitled to benefits. There are some major dangers in this belief as not all states recognize Common Law Marriage and in case of a separation or death there can be some very serious legal issues. 

Common Law Marriages are not automatically recognized from one jurisdiction to another, and neither are cohabiting couples (in practice but not necessarily ordained by law) automatically in a Common Law Marriage.  You are only in a Common Law Marriage if the parties complied with the requirements to form a valid marriage while living in a jurisdiction that allows this form of marriage to be contracted

Common-law marriage in the United States can still be contracted in nine states namely; Alabama, Colorado, Kansas, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Iowa, Montana, Utah, Texas and the District of Columbia.

Common-law marriage can no longer be contracted in 27 states, and was never permitted in 13 states. The requirements for a common-law marriage to be validly contracted differ from state to state. Nevertheless, all states, including those that have abolished the contract of common-law marriage within their boundaries, recognize common-law marriages lawfully contracted in those jurisdictions that permit it. This is because all states provide that validity of foreign marriage is determined per lex loci celebrationis—that is, "by law of the place of celebration."

Further Reading