Understanding How a Proxy Marriage Works and Is It Acceptable for Immigration Purposes

Since the Covid-19 pandemic emerged it has changed how institutions traditionally do things and marriage is no exception. There were many instances where weddings went straight to Zoom back in 2020 and even now, remote marriages have become a worldwide thing with hundreds of foreign couples tying the knot virtually. Same-sex couples from countries like China and the Philippines - where same-sex marriage is unlawful have also been getting married online to cement their commitment to each other.

Those types of marriages known as proxy marriages can be quite confusing to understand but the question is, “Can they work for immigration purposes?”

Proxy Marriage in a Nutshell

A proxy marriage is a marriage where one member of the couple is not physically present for the marriage. A stand-in takes their place where the ceremony is held. In the case of entirely virtual weddings, the officiant is where the ceremony is taking place and each member of the couple is apart, but virtually present.

Proxy marriages can be done with either one person being physically present while the other is remotely available but this is dependent on local and state laws. These laws are important to check since some of them are only valid while pandemic restrictions are in place. As those restrictions are lifted, they may no longer be deemed legal marriages.

For U.S. citizens marrying each other, it is unlikely you would ever need a proxy marriage except for certain circumstances. For example, several states allow proxy marriages, particularly Montana, for individuals in the military.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) deems a proxy marriage to be legal as long as it is consummated through physical intimacy. This does not include consummation before the marriage, so while having children together would seem enough and does help prove a marriage’s legitimacy, this cannot be counted as consummation if those children were born before the marriage. However, couples can and should provide proof of their relationship before marriage to help demonstrate its validity. Any evidence helps.

One of the best ways to provide evidence of a genuine marriage is through an affidavit that can attest that you and your spouse are now together in person after the marriage. Additionally, you can submit supporting documents like letters of support from friends and family, photos together, plane tickets, and hotel receipts. To provide proof after the wedding ceremony, if there is another pandemic in the distant future tourist destinations can be a good place to meet during a pandemic.

Note that with the pandemic that arose in 2020, the U.S. government has prepared for future pandemics. With that said, restrictions will be subject to change based on future pandemic conditions within the country itself and the countries you or your partner are coming from.

Before making plans to meet face-to-face after your wedding it is important to double check with an immigration attorney about the restrictions and options you may have available. You can also ask which state allows virtual ceremonies.

Can an Immigration Lawyer Help with a Proxy Marriage

If you intend on pursuing a proxy marriage and your significant other is overseas you will need an attorney to help you. Be sure to check local and state laws to ensure that the marriage is deemed legal mainly for immigration purposes. Our attorneys at Gambacorta Law Office will gladly discuss your options with you. Please feel free to contact us at 847 443 9303.