“Proxy Marriages” During the Pandemic

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Did you know that you can get married by proxy in some States?

It means you do not need to be present to get married. A single-proxy marriage means at least one of the husband and wife needs to present at the wedding ceremony; and a double-proxy marriage means no one needs to be present. Different states have different rules regarding the proxy marriage. Single proxy marriage (one person in the relationship is not present) is legal in several states (Montana, Colorado, Kansas, Texas, and California) across the U.S. Double proxy marriage is allowed in Montana

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a huge increase in proxy marriage requests, as people now have concerns of being at wedding ceremonies with many other persons and their traveling has severely been restricted due to the pandemic.

Immigration law-wise, a proxy marriage is considered as a legal marriage if the state(s) where the couple reside recognize(s) proxy marriages and the couple must be consummated. This means that to be a valid marriage for immigration purposes or filing the petition, the parties to the marriage must have met in person after marrying by proxy. As of the date of consummation, the validity of the marriage then relates back to the date the certificate of marriage was filed. Such a requirement has not been changed during the pandemic.

The same requirement applies in K-1 (Fiancé or Fiancée) visa context. To be eligible for this type of immigration benefit, the U.S. Citizen and his/her fiancée/fiancé must meet each other, in person, at least once within the 2-year period before filing the Form I-129F petition. After getting the K-1 visa, the U.S. Citizen and fiancée/fiancé intend to marry one another within 90 days of your fiancé(e)’s admission to the United States on a K-1 nonimmigrant visa. Since these requirements are in place, a K-1 visa applicant still needs to meet his/her U.S. Citizen fiancée/fiancé in person (within 2 years prior to filing the K1 visa petition) to get K-1 visa and must enter the U.S. with K-1 visa to apply for a marriage-based green card.

Prolonged COVID-19 pandemic has greatly increased the need for unconventional marriages or proxy marriages. However, immigration law regulations regarding marriage-based immigration benefits have not been up to the need. Consummation of marriage or physical meeting must take place before a visa petition may be filed on behalf of the non-citizen spouse.

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