The internet has brought us closer together through the use of social media and video meeting tools like WhatsApp, Messenger, Google Meet, Zoom, and many more. Many relationships are now starting through social media interaction and dating websites. With the onset of COVID-19, many couples were not able to meet in-person due to border and travel restrictions. So, many couples resorted to proxy marriages such as the Utah proxy marriages through video conference, which is recognized as valid marriage for U.S. immigration.
What is a Proxy Marriage?
A proxy marriage is a marriage where one member of the couple isn’t physically present for the marriage. A stand-in takes their place where the ceremony is held. In the case of entirely virtual weddings, the officiant is in the place where the ceremony is held and each member of the couple is apart, but virtually present.
How are the Utah proxy marriages valid for immigration?
Most U.S. states do not allow proxy marriages. But Utah does. The officiant must be present in the state of Utah, but the couple may reside and be physically present out of state, including abroad. The marriage license application can be signed electronically. The ceremony can be held over video conference. For more, see the website of the Clerk/Auditor of Utah County, Utah on “Getting Married via Video Conferencing in Utah.”
The Immigration and Nationality Act does not recognize proxy marriages unless consummated, i.e., unless the couple has had “marital relations” after the ceremony. The statute provides: “The term “spouse”, “wife”, or “husband” does not include a spouse, wife, or husband by reason of any marriage ceremony where the contracting parties thereto are not physically present in the presence of each other, unless the marriage shall have been consummated.”
The State Department further explains:
A marriage where one or both parties was not present (proxy marriage) is not valid unless the marriage was consummated.
(1) Consummated: For the purpose of issuing a visa to a “spouse,” a proxy marriage that has been subsequently consummated is deemed to have been valid as of the date of the proxy ceremony. A proxy marriage consummated prior to the proxy ceremony cannot be considered a valid marriage for visa adjudication purposes unless it has been consummated subsequently.
(2) Unconsummated: A proxy marriage that has not been subsequently consummated does not create or confer the status of “spouse” pursuant to INA 101(a)(35)…. [A] party to an unconsummated proxy marriage may be processed as a nonimmigrant fiancé(e). A proxy marriage celebrated in a jurisdiction recognizing such marriage is generally considered to be valid; thus, an actual marriage in the United States is not necessary if such alien is admitted to the United States under INA provisions other than as a spouse.
How prove consummation?
Evidence of consummation could include evidence that the parties were in the same location on a particular date after the marriage (e.g., airplane tickets and any admission stamps in passport(s), hotel bills, photos taken together) and a declaration (without graphic details) explaining that the couple had “marital relations.”
If you want to learn more about the Utah proxy marriages, visit this website: https://www.utahcounty.gov/dept/clerkaud/PassMarr/RemoteAppearanceFAQ.asp
For more information on Utah Proxy Marriages,
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