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Can We Have a Proxy or Virtual Marriage?

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Can we have a proxy or virtual marriage? Hi, I'm Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States at our offices in San Diego, Washington DC, and in our St. Louis headquarters. In today's video, we're going to talk about proxy marriages. The word proxy is sort of a strange word. It's P-R-O-X-Y. A proxy marriage just means that someone stands in as a proxy, as a stand-in for the person that's getting married. Typically, you'll see a proxy marriage where the couple is not together at the exact same time when they get married. There will be an officiant, a minister, a priest, a rabbi, an imam, or some other celebrant taking charge of the relationship in the marriage, and they will be with one member of the couple. The other member of the couple will be somewhere else, usually overseas or vice versa. The US citizen will be here in the United States and the foreign national will be overseas with a celebrant.

The question is, will USCIS recognize these proxy or virtual marriages? Of course, in the old days, you would do a proxy marriage probably over the phone. Now, with video, you can do them on Zoom or BlueJeans or any other software, FaceTime, that would allow you to be in the same room together, albeit, virtually. The question is, will USCIS accept these?

Then, the other question that we've been getting a lot lately is, "Well, are there any special considerations or easing of restrictions on proxy marriages due to COVID?" Let's talk about both of those things. The first question. Will USCIS recognize a proxy marriage? The answer to that question is, yes, if that marriage has been consummated. The word consummated means that the couple that got married has had sex since the proxy marriage itself.

Let's walk it through. If a couple gets married, let's say, on August 15th and it's a proxy marriage, the question then is going to be, has the couple been together since August 15th in the same city and town. They're not going to want the details of the sexual interaction that occurred after the proxy marriage, but they will take it as good faith that if you've been in the same town since you've had the proxy marriage that you have had sex, because of course you're a married couple and that's what married couples like to do. It's not something where they're going to ask for the actual details of the sex, but if you can demonstrate, A, that you had this proxy marriage, and B, that it has been consummated, that you and your spouse have been together in some other city or some other place since that proxy marriage, then they'll just assume that you had sex and the marriage is good to go for immigration purposes. That's what a virtual or proxy marriage would... Those are the circumstances where that would be recognized by the immigration service and the State Department.

Now, the next question is, "Well, what about COVID? Are there any easing of restrictions? Have they made this easier? Can you get out of the consummation requirement?" Of course, this is always tough when people meet online and fall in love online. Of course, with technology, we've seen these kinds of relationships really take off and skyrocket. We have couples all the time now who met on Tinder or Facebook or some other online matchmaking site, and the couple might not necessarily meet face-to-face for quite some time and they're trying to figure out, "Well, how can I be with my loved one? How can I establish that relationship and apply for them to get an immigration benefit?" There's all these moving pieces. Like, "When do I go over there? Can they come visit?" One of you want to be together as soon as possible. All these different things.

Of course, in a fiance case, it's your burden to establish that before you file that I129F that you and your significant other have been in each other's physical presence at some point in the past two years. Right? It's backwards looking. Can we demonstrate that you've been in the same town and been engaged and done that in the past two years? That's for a fiance case.

Sometimes people have that hardship and they can't do that right away, so they want to go the proxy marriage route. That'll work, but at the end of the day, you're going to have to be together. Either you have to be together before you get married or you're going to have to be together after you get married. Now, they don't ask about consummation itself in the fiance context, but they do require that you show that you were both in Johannesburg, South Africa together, or Sydney, Australia, or somewhere in the past two years on the fiance route. Then, of course, after the proxy marriage, you'd have to show it that way.

With the COVID restrictions and with borders being closed and then reopened and we've seen all the travel restrictions that everyone's had problems with over the last year and a half or so, the requirements have not eased. Of course, the reason the requirements have not eased is because USCIS doesn't care about you. They're not about trying to make your life easier. They're trying to look for ways to deny your case, so why would they make proxy marriages easier or remove that requirement that you be in each other's physical presence at some point after the proxy marriage? Why would they do that if their inclination is to keep you from bringing your loved one to the United States? Of course, that is their approach. You can't get around that requirement. Those requirements are still in place.

We hope you found this video helpful. If you do have questions about a proxy marriage or if you're thinking about going that route or the fiance route, we can walk it through with you. It's usually very helpful for us to talk to you and your loved one at the same time so that we can see what's the most important factor for you and then come up with a plan that works best for you. If you have questions about this, about the proxy marriage, you can give us a call at 314-961-8200. You can email us at [email protected]. Be sure to join us in our Facebook group, which is called Immigrant Home. If you like this video, we ask that you please share it out on social, that you subscribe to our YouTube channel, and that you join us on Tuesdays and Thursdays, usually at noon Central Time, where I'm answering as many of your immigration law related questions as possible in just under 60 minutes. Thanks a lot, and we'll see you next time.

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