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Can You Get A Green Card By Common-Law Marriage?

There’s a possibility that you can get A Green Card By Common-Law Marriage in the U.S. If a U.S. citizen and lawful permanent residents enters into marriage with a foreign-born person, the foreign-born can get a green card with the marriage status. One of the basic requirements for a marriage-based green card is that the marriage must be seen as legally valid in the place where it occurred. However, a common law marriage may be recognized for immigration purposes if it is legal in the country or U.S. state where the couple lived or currently live and led to the attainment of the same marital rights as are granted to traditionally married couples in that location.

What Is A Common-Law Marriage?

A common law marriage is a mutual agreement between a man and woman to become married without a formal civil or religious ceremony. These are sometimes referred to as “customary” or “tribal” marriages when they take place in other countries.

You can also see how to prove common law relationship for Canada immigration.

Is Common Law Marriages Recognized In Many U.S States?

Approximately, 16 U.S. states allow common law marriages. Contrary to a popular myth, in those states, merely living together for a certain number of years in does not necessarily mean you are married. In fact, you must not only live together for a certain period of time, but intend to be married and hold yourselves out as a married couple in interactions with friends, relatives, neighbors, and the public, for instance, by using the same last name, introducing yourselves as “my husband” or “my wife,” filling out official paperwork such as insurance documents, children’s birth certificates, and joint tax returns in a way that indicates your status as a married couple, and so forth.

If you are offered the opportunity by your state to register your common law marriage with a local government agency, then the immigration authorities will expect you to have done so, and to provide proof of such registration.

What If the Marriage Separately Violates Federal Law?

Even though a marriage is considered legal in the state where it took place, it will still not be recognized for immigration purposes if it separately violates a federal law concerning marriage. For that reason, for instance, same-sex marriages could not be used as a criteria to apply for a green card until the federal Defense of Marriage Act was ruled unconstitutional in 2013.

Will the Immigration Authorities or the Consular Recognize the Bona Fides of a Common Law Marriage?

To obtain a green card for an immigrant, you must not only proof that the it is a legally valid marriage, but that it is bona fide (not a sham to get a green card). Like every married couple, you’ll need to provide multiple forms of documentary proof of your shared life as evidence. Couples who went through a civil or religious ceremony commonly have photos of the ceremony, and show these documents to the immigration officials. Such photos may certainly not be required in your case, and they’re not the only type of proof the immigration authorities look for. Other likely documents may include join bank or credit cards statements, joint lease or mortgage documents, affidavits from friends and relatives, and so forth.

Nevertheless, if perhaps because you weren’t sure whether your common law marriage was recognized legally, you didn’t take as many steps to combine these other aspects of your life, providing documentary proof of a common law marriage may slightly be more difficult as compared to traditionally married couples. You may also be doubted at the immigration office, or subjective opinions along the lines of, “If actually they wanted their friends and family to know they were married, why was there no ceremony?”