Will a Small Courthouse Wedding Mess Up Your Green Card Application?


In order for the I-130 petition to be successful, you must be able to prove a bona fide marriage.

While a small courthouse wedding is a perfectly valid way to get married, it can create issues for your marriage application if you aren’t careful. Courthouse weddings are common for couples who are attempting to commit marriage fraud

There are some ways you can make it work. Here’s what you need to do.

Make the effort to make it special, and take photographs.

Don’t just run up to the courthouse and have a quick 15-minute ceremony. Wear something nice. Hire a photographer to take pictures of you and your spouse on the courthouse steps. Plan a big afterparty and take pictures of the party.

Be ready to show that the civil ceremony was a financial and personal choice rather than a box you were checking off to get through the immigration process. 

Use it to sew up a procedural problem. 

This is an issue that comes up for same-sex couples a lot. In order for the marriage to work for green card purposes, it had to be legal in the jurisdiction where the wedding took place. If you had a ceremony in a country where gay marriage is not legal then you aren’t married yet in the eyes of USCIS.

You could go ahead and have a courthouse wedding to get legally married. Then you can show the official that you had a ceremony in the other country but handled the legal aspects of the marriage here in the states. As long as you’re ready to tell your story and to show that a wedding has taken place you should be fine. 

Have lots of other evidence of a bona fide marriage available to show immigration officials. 

Pictures. Affidavits. Evidence of joint leases, mortgages, bank accounts, tax returns. Anything you can show an immigration official to make it clear that you are building a life together or have built a life together. 

The type of wedding doesn’t matter much if you are living together, had children together, pay bills together, and can answer all of your interview questions in a satisfactory fashion. 

Be prepared for your interview. 

Look up the most common interview questions and be prepared to answer them. Know the common pitfalls, ways that people mess up their immigration interviews because they’re not thinking when they answer questions. 

If you do that, then the way that you chose to get married should not be a problem. 

Get help from an immigration attorney. 

An immigration attorney can help you solve problems with your application, whether they are minor problems like the type of wedding you’ve had or are stickier, more major issues.

The earlier you involve an immigration attorney in the process, the more successful your application is likely to be.

Contact Hykel Law today.

See also: 

Is My Family Member Eligible for Immigration? 

How Much Does an Immigration Lawyer Cost?

5 Steps to a Smoother Immigration Process

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