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Is it generally OK to file for marriage based green card before the religious ceremony? How will USCIS regard our situation?

Huntley, IL |

My fiance and I are looking for some direction. She is a USC and I am a foreigner. We would like to file for a GC before our religious ceremony in August (Illinois). The reason is that we would like to have another ceremony in my home country and travel for our honey moon right after the ceremon. We are planning to go to the county clerk for a marriage lic/certif in March. We won't be able however to live together until the religious cerem (which we both find stupid, but this the tradition in our culture), although we currently have an apartment in our names, have 3 joint credit cards, 2 bank accounts with our direct depos, wedding registry, a big engagement party, save the date, wedding invitation card for the ceremony +reception in august (~275 invitees), banquet hall contracts...

-We are hoping for the happy path scenarios, in the sense that we hope to get the GC done by September at the latest, instead of waiting for 5 to 6+ months after the ceremony, if we wanted to file in August. -We are a little bit stuck, because although we have the approval of our community, parents and friends, to go forward with our plan (marriage in court in March that is), the priest at church stated that he would refuse to "marry" us in August if we get married in March. Although he already blessed us and our rings in a home ceremony for the engagement party in-front of 200 people.

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Attorney answers 5

Posted

So long as you have a valid marriage you can file. As to the specifics of the case you should meet with an attorney to go over the details.

Samuel Ouya Maina, Esq. 415.391.6612 s.ouya@mainalaw.com Law Offices of S. Ouya Maina, PC 332 Pine Street, Suite 707 San Francisco, CA 94104

Asker

Posted

Thank you Samuel.

Samuel Patrick Ouya Maina

Samuel Patrick Ouya Maina

Posted

You are welcome. Good luck.

Posted

That scenario is actually quite common and USCIS does not seem to mind as long as you can show that you intent to have a life together.

This answer is not to be construed as legal advice. For a free telephone consultation, contact us now at: info@moralespllc.com (512) 215-5235 Austin, (214) 377-4822 Dallas, (713) 242-1783 Houston, (210) 957-8845 San Antonio Please dial extension 500

Asker

Posted

Thank you Myron.

Posted

A civil ceremony and official marriage certificate is sufficient to file. Although USCIS considers a marriage celebration in determining the bona fides of your relationship, it is not uncommon that couples have a later ceremony. You should be fine if you can otherwise demonstrate a bona fide relationship.

Asker

Posted

Thank you Christian, this is very helpful.

Posted

There is no problem filing before you have the religious ceremony, it will not be viewed negatively.

The above is intended only as general information, and does not constitute legal advice. You must speak with an attorney to discuss your individual case.

Asker

Posted

Thank you Stephen for your time and answer. I am glad it wont be viewed negatively. I hope USCIS will not conclude that we didn't consume the marriage.

Posted

As my colleagues explained, the key is having a bona fide relationship. Talk with an attorney before you apply. You may need advanced parole if you leave the country before your application is final.

Dhenu Savla, Esq.
SwagatUSA, LLC
www.swagatusa.com/attorney

This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship and is not meant to be relied upon as legal advice.

Dhenu Mitesh Savla

Dhenu Mitesh Savla

Posted

Actually, I take it back. Sorry. If your marriage is unconsummated it is not considered complete for the purposes of immigration. If you are planning to have rukhsati after applying you may have a difficult time if the officer is familiar with Islamic traditions or questions about it in interview. Recently met with clients from Pakistan who were denied at interview with a similar fact pattern

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