When you’re trying to gain access to the United States based on your marital status, you know that you’re going to have to prove that your foreign marriage is valid. Ideally, you can do that with a marriage certificate.
But, what if you don’t have one? You may have left your country without a marriage certificate in hand, especially if you were fleeing a war or a natural disaster — and those records may not exist any more. Or, you may have come from a region of the world where the state doesn’t get involved in marriages so your marriage was never officially registered with a foreign government.
What do you do now?
Secondary evidence of your marriage can be used for immigration
Fortunately, your situation isn’t that uncommon — and the immigration authorities know this. With that in mind, they’ll take a look at the totality of the evidence you have that shows that you are married.
Some secondary evidence that you have a bona fide marriage includes things like:
- A marriage contract: Things like a nikah are common in Arabic cultures, and they are often used in place of an actual marriage certificate in certain areas.
- A photo album: If you have photos of your wedding with all your relatives standing around, that could lend considerable weight to your claims.
- Your children’s birth certificates: If you have children with your spouse, your children’s birth certificates may show that you are married.
- Jointly held property: Evidence that you hold or held property or bank accounts together further supports your claims.
- Jointly held debts: Similarly, bills that are in both your names will also help show the ties between you and your spouse.
- Electronic communications: You may have plenty of correspondence out there in the cloud somewhere that will help establish your relationship to your spouse.
Ultimately, the most important thing to remember is this: You aren’t without options. The best thing to do in a situation like this is gather up everything you have and take it to your attorney. They can help you put together a coherent package that will support your claims and help you pass the immigration hurdles.