Will Getting Married Online Affect Your Chances at Immigration Success?

March 30, 2023
3 min

Online marriages are perfectly acceptable for U.S. spousal green card applications, as long as the couple can show that the marriage was legally sanctioned and consummated. In this article, we’ll discuss what is meant by a lawful marriage and how couples can go about proving consummation.

Woman Wearing White Wedding Gown Holding Hands With Man

Legally Sanctioned Marriages

As per the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) field manual, the marriage must be considered legal “in the place where it is celebrated.” It’s thus very important, for immigration purposes, to determine the legality of virtual marriages in the governing jurisdiction. 

Where in the world are online marriages legal? At the present time, Utah is the only state where web conferencing marriages are lawfully permitted. To get married there, the newlyweds do not have to be U.S. citizens or state residents. All they need to do is: 

  1. Obtain a marriage license before the ceremony. They’ll need a government issued ID such as a passport, an affidavit stating there aren’t any legal barriers preventing the marriage, and money to pay the associated fees. Once the application is processed, they will receive a personalized URL containing the license.
  2. Get married. The wedding must include two witnesses, an officiant recognized by the state of Utah, and the intending couple. Each of the attendees may be in separate locations during the virtual event, but either the officiant or one of the engaged must be physically present in Utah. 
  3. Record the wedding with the county. The officiant must fill out their portion of the marriage license, making sure to provide the date and location of the nuptials.

Given the flexibility around citizenship and residency, a virtual Utah wedding could be a good option for couples seeking a marriage-based green card — as long as one of the spouses is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. Utah’s marriage policy may also provide an opportunity to same-sex couples living in countries prohibiting same-sex marriage.

Proving Consummation

Let’s say two people — a U.S. citizen and non-U.S. citizen — just got married online “in” Utah. At this point, if they want a green card, they’ll have to prove the marriage was consummated. Why? As it stands, for purposes of immigration, U.S. law requires couples to be in the same place when they get married, “unless the marriage shall have been consummated” (see section 101(a)(35) of the Immigration Nationality Act (INA)).

To prove consummation, couples can collect documents showing that they have been physically together for stretches of time between the marriage ceremony and the filing of the green card application. Evidence might include: 

  • Signed affidavit provided by the couple
  • Signed affidavits provided by the couple’s friends, family, and neighbors
  • Time-stamped photos
  • Flight itineraries 
  • Bills or bank statements containing both spouses’ names
  • Hotel reservations

To be clear: the newlyweds must prove consummation occurred after the ceremony, so if they previously had children, they can’t rely on this fact as proof of consummation. If, on the other hand, they had children following the wedding, they can provide birth certificates to show that conception occurred within the appropriate time frame.

For a limited time, Courtly customers have access to a promotion with leading US immigration firm, Boundless. Use code BLCOURTLY for 15% off their core services (K-1, CR-1, AOS).

Demonstrating Legality vs Proving Authenticity

The aforementioned evidence pertains specifically to the legality of the marriage itself, but the spouses will need to gather further proof demonstrating the authenticity of their marriage as well. That is, USCIS will want to know that the newly married couple intends to stay together and that they did not get married purely for immigration purposes. 

If you plan to apply for a marriage green card after tying the knot online, our partner Boundless can help. They help you build a tailored visa plan for every step of the process, from forms to your immigration interview. Get started today

Let us handle the paperwork.

Getting married is complicated. Courtly simplifies the process and provides everything necessary to get married online, including providing a licensed officiant who can perform a remote ceremony.

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