Active Duty Military often consider Proxy Marriage as a solution to marrying their spouse overseas. Being an Active Duty Service Member, foreign travel may be limited or prohibited. Similarly, a foreign national fiance may be unable to travel to the United States on a Tourist Visa or under ESTA/Visa Waiver. This Blog Post will discuss what are the US Immigration Requirements for Proxy Marriage and how Montana’s Double Proxy Marriage may be a viable option for Active Duty Service Members.
What is Proxy Marriage?
Proxy Marriage is a process where someone or something (called a proxy) stands in a marriage applicant’s position while the marriage is solemnized. Although Proxy Marriage is not allowed in nearly all of the United States, the following states do have Proxy Marriage Statutes:
What is Double Proxy Marriage?
Double Proxy means neither spouse is present while the marriage is solemnized.
Does USCIS and US Consulate Recognize Proxy Marriage?
The US Immigration Agencies do recognize Proxy Marriage under INA § 101(a)(35), but only if two elements are present.
- First, the Proxy Marriage must observe the “place-of-celebration” rule. Meaning, a marriage is valid for immigration purposes in cases where the marriage is valid under the law of the jurisdiction in which it is performed. Please see below for the Montana Proxy Marriage Statute.
- Second, the proxy marriage is only recognized AFTER the couple (married by proxy) consummate the relationship. Note: “Consummation” would require both spouses to be physically together after marrying by proxy.
How do I prove to Immigration that a Proxy Marriage occurred?
You would need a valid Marriage Certificate. In the case of Montana Proxy Marriage, the Montana Marriage Certificate would be required.
The couple should attest in the immigration petition and application that the proxy marriage is a “recognized marriage” in Montana for immigration purposes, and evidence of “Consummation” should also be provided. “Consummation” is important and more information found here.
Should I do a traditional marriage or a proxy marriage in order for my spouse to Immigrate to the United States?
From an immigration attorney’s perspective, the easier paths are to physically marry abroad and apply for a Spousal Green Card CR1/IR1 Immigrant Visa or to apply for a Fiance K-1 Immigrant Visa and to have the marriage in the US.
However, if someone pursues the Proxy Marriage Route, the Spousal Green Card CR1/IR1 Immigrant Visa could occur, and both couples would have to prove the relationship consummated.
So, there is no correct answer. Travel (the spouses or fiances would have to meet in person somewhere in the world) is required for all immigration options, but traditional marriages are more common and more easily received by immigration officers.
Montana Code Annotated 40-1-301 titled Solemnization and registration states:
(1) A marriage may be solemnized by a judge of a court of record, by a public official whose powers include solemnization of marriages, by a mayor, city judge, or justice of the peace, by a notary public authorized pursuant to 1-5-630, by a tribal judge, or in accordance with any mode of solemnization recognized by any religious denomination, Indian nation or tribe, or native group. Either the person solemnizing the marriage or, if no individual acting alone solemnized the marriage, a party to the marriage shall complete the marriage certificate form and forward it to the clerk of the district court.
(2) If a party to a marriage is unable to be present at the solemnization, the party may authorize in writing a third person to act as proxy. If the person solemnizing the marriage is satisfied that the absent party is unable to be present and has consented to the marriage, the person may solemnize the marriage by proxy. If the person solemnizing the marriage is not satisfied, the parties may petition the district court for an order permitting the marriage to be solemnized by proxy.
(3) The solemnization of the marriage is not invalidated by the fact that the person solemnizing the marriage was not legally qualified to solemnize it if either party to the marriage believed that person to be qualified.
(4) One party to a proxy marriage must be a member of the armed forces of the United States on federal active duty or a resident of Montana at the time of application for a license and certificate pursuant to 40-1-202. One party or a legal representative shall appear before the clerk of court and pay the marriage license fee. For the purposes of this subsection, residency must be determined in accordance with 1-1-215.
Notice: Our Law Firm does not assist in performing Proxy Marriages, nor can we refer you to a company that assists with proxy marriages. Our Immigration Law Firm only assists with Immigration filings to the United States.
Related Blog Posts:
Proxy Marriage and US Immigration: Clarification on the Consummation Requirement
Can I Propose to my girlfriend while she is here in the US on a Tourist Visa or ESTA?
DEERS Office and the need for Apostille / Legalized Foreign Documents
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