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Did You Get Married on The First Overseas Trip

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Did you get married on your first trip overseas? Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States out of our office out of St. Louis, Missouri. This isn’t a question that people ask me. This is a question that I asked a potential client the other day. It occurred to me that I should shoot a video on this topic of overseas marriages and getting married on your first trip overseas.

Now, we see a lot of different kinds of marriages. I’m not here to comment on anyone’s marriage or to say that one marriage type is better than another, but I do want to help strengthen your case. I do want to help put you in the best position to have your marriage-based immigrant visa case approved. I wanted to make the video to outline my thoughts on what I look for when a couple comes to me and says that they were married overseas.

Sometimes people get married on that very first trip overseas. This might seem unusual to you, but let’s run out the scenario. Typically the couple has met somehow, usually it’s online. It could be in a Facebook group. It could be playing Clash of Clans. It could be on a matchmaking site. It could be on a religiously-based matchmaking site. There’s all different ways that people meet each other online from overseas.

Now, I wouldn’t say that the embassies treat these online marriages a little bit more harshly, but in actuality, they do. In actuality, you have to operate from the assumption that they want to deny every case, and that they see a liar behind every corner, and that they’re doing everything they can to come up with ways to make your case sound fishy. Of course, it’s not fishy, it’s just the world that we live in.

Now with connectivity, with Skype, with Facebook, with WhatsApp, Marwan’s favorite chat tool, he’s on there all the time, any way, with all these different ways that you can connect with people overseas, it’s not unusual that people would meet. Then you can spend so much time talking, and chatting, and texting, and Facebook messaging, and all these other ways that you can talk to each other that you can develop a real relationship electronically. Sometimes a couple falls in love online. It actually happens.

It’s not that unusual to think that the U.S. citizen might want to go overseas and either meet in the foreign national’s home country or in a third country. Sometimes they meet outside the country that either of them live in. Sometimes they even get married. Then they come back and they ask us, “Jim, can you help us get this case approved?” but what I would like to say to those people is before you get married on that first trip, ask yourself, and I know you’re in a hurry, but I want you to ask yourself this question, “Do I want to get my case approved or do I want to get my case started?” There’s a difference. I should probably do a video on that. Yeah, maybe I will, a whole video on do I want to get my case approved or do I want to get my case started, and they’re not mutually exclusive.

In this context, what I’m thinking about is that I want to file the strongest case possible. As an immigration lawyer, the U.S. citizen is my client, the foreign national is my client, but really my client is getting the case approved. I always view things in the light of, “How do I get this case approved? How do I take away things for them to quibble about? How do I take away things for them to say no to?”

What I want to do is I want to file the strongest case possible. It is objectively a stronger case if the couple gets married after the second trip, or the third trip, or the fourth trip. I can’t tell you how many people tell me that they get dinged at the embassy for getting married on this first trip. I’ve seen it more and more lately. I’ve seen it more and more harshly, so you really need to think through. It might be a money issue. You might not have enough money to fly over there three or four times to see your spouse, but if the spouse were in the United States and you lived in the same town, or even two towns over, or even in different states, you’d probably spend more time together.

That’s the prism by which the State Department is looking at the cases. They think about their own marriages. They think about their own lives and they say, “Would I really marry someone on the first trip?” Now, you had no problem doing that and that’s great, but what your subjective belief is isn’t really that important. What’s more important is the objective test, the objective standard. Does this make sense? Does this sound normal? Is this what couples really do?

Like I said, I’m not here to criticize people who get married on their first trip overseas, but I come to you instead in a gentle way and in a way of wanting to get your case approved and saying to you, “Look, your case is going to have a higher chance of approval and probably a faster approval if we can demonstrate, not just chat, not just texting, but actual physical face-to-face meetings, physical encounters, being in the same town at the same time with proof of all.”

Those are my thoughts on getting married on your first trip overseas. I hope you found it helpful. I hope you didn’t feel like I was criticizing anyone. I’m just trying to get you to file the strongest case possible. If you have questions about this, give us a call. It’s 314-961-8200. You can email us at info@hackinglawpractice.com. We have a nice little Facebook group that people are joining each and every day. We’d love to have you in there. We share all of our videos and our immigration news in there. It’s called Immigrant Home. If you liked this video, please be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel so you get updates whenever we make videos just like this one. Thanks a lot. Have a great day.

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