Is a small courthouse wedding okay? Hi. I'm Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States at our offices in St. Louis Missouri and San Diego California. In today's video we're going to talk about weddings and it's really good to have a wedding. You can't file an I-130 petition without that wedding. You can get all your documents ready, you can get all your forms ready, but until you get married and until you get your marriage license recorded and back from your local officials you're not going to be able to file for I-130, but we want to focus on the marriage itself. What does the marriage have to look like, what is acceptable to USCIS?
Now USCIS does understand that if you're a newly wed couple or if you're a young couple sometimes you don't always have your big, big wedding right away. You might want to get the immigration process started and as long as you're getting married for love and not just to get an immigration benefit, then it is okay if you have a small courthouse wedding but, we always tell our clients to make it nice, to make it special. Don't show up like some of our clients have in a hat and T-shirt and jeans. We've had people send us their wedding photos and it's them in their T-shirts, their jeans and their hats and the judge, and it's just them. I really vote no on that. I really want you to try to make it special. At least make it a special day. I'm sure if you're getting married and you're having plans to having a bigger wedding later, you don't want to spend a lot of time and money on this but, it is important to make it a big deal. We always tell our clients to make sure that you invite some family and friends, you know if it's just the two of you that's actually legally okay, but it's going to make your case harder to get approved.
You want to make sure that you make it special. That if you can have your parents there or your siblings there or your best friends there, even if it's just a small gathering and of course during COVID this is all especially true. We saw a lot more of these smaller weddings with people making plans to have a bigger wedding once the pandemic is over, once people are free to move around the world and come to the United States for their child's wedding or their family member's wedding, so USCIS understands. They especially understand it during USCIS, but just because they're not requiring you to have a full blown marriage, you do want to make it special, you do want to make it a big deal if you can, so take pictures, invite people. That pictures of you with those other people there. Obviously if you have to do social distancing that's fine, but there's no real reason why you can't make it nice. You can do it in your front yard. You can do it at the courthouse even, you can make it nice, but you can bring flowers and you can talk about what maybe the bride buys the groom a tie or the partners buy things for each other for that special day. You can make it easy and there's really no reason not to other than pure laziness.
So, I would encourage you that if you're getting married and you want to apply for a green card based off that marriage, that you do make it special and that you do treat it as a solemn event, because it is. Hopefully you're going to be married for the rest of your life and that'll be your wedding day for the rest of your life. That'll be your anniversary, a day that hopefully will be celebrated for years to come, so don't make it nice just for USCIS, make it nice because you love your partner and you want to be together for the rest of your life.
Hope this makes sense. If you have questions give us a call 314-961-8200. You can email us at [email protected]. Be sure to join us on our Facebook group which is called Immigrant Home. We'd love to see you in there and make sure that you subscribe to our YouTube channel so that you get updates whenever we make videos just like this one and then don't you know on Tuesdays and Thursdays usually at noon central you'll find me in a Facebook group and on the YouTube channel answering as many of your immigration-related questions as possible in just 16 minutes. Thanks a lot and have a great day.