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  • K1 Fiance Immigration Law Question

    I'm so glad I stumbled across this forum. I have a unique question that I'm hoping can be answered here.

    My Canadian daughter is engaged to marry an American. We live on a border city (in Canada), so this is obviously not unheard of. Unfortunately we've heard many different scenarios of how people enter "illegally" and not technically follow the "rules". They want to make sure they do things legally in both countries and that she immigrates properly.

    They have been dating for 2½ years. Her fiance sent off the initial forms to start the K1 Visa process back in August.

    My daughter would like to be "married" in our home church, where she's gone since birth. We know that by entering the US with a K1, that she can not be already married. So, the plan we are considering is that they get married in Canada "in the eyes of God and before witnesses" ONLY. No marriage license will be applied for here and absolutely no legal documentation will be written, neither at city hall or within the church. I've spoken with Service Ontario and they say that this is fine, as it's just a religious ceremony, not a legal one. Once they enter the US, they'll then apply for the license, get legally married there and then continue the process.....

    My question is........... would this possibly be an issue with her entering the US on the K1??? I can't see it being one, especially with the US being big on "separation of church and state".

    What is starting to concern me is, we're hearing for others with the opinion, that think it will. Here it's basically going to be a declaration before God and a party afterwards.

    They will not wear their wedding bands when the cross into the US, etc...

    We've planned for their Canadian event to take place in Oct. This was based on the presumption that the K1 process would take about a year. This would still give time for her to enter the US and marry in the requied time frame.

    Any input on this would be GREATLY appreciated. I've had a very stressful few days worrying about this. Thanks so much!

  • #2
    I'm so glad I stumbled across this forum. I have a unique question that I'm hoping can be answered here.

    My Canadian daughter is engaged to marry an American. We live on a border city (in Canada), so this is obviously not unheard of. Unfortunately we've heard many different scenarios of how people enter "illegally" and not technically follow the "rules". They want to make sure they do things legally in both countries and that she immigrates properly.

    They have been dating for 2½ years. Her fiance sent off the initial forms to start the K1 Visa process back in August.

    My daughter would like to be "married" in our home church, where she's gone since birth. We know that by entering the US with a K1, that she can not be already married. So, the plan we are considering is that they get married in Canada "in the eyes of God and before witnesses" ONLY. No marriage license will be applied for here and absolutely no legal documentation will be written, neither at city hall or within the church. I've spoken with Service Ontario and they say that this is fine, as it's just a religious ceremony, not a legal one. Once they enter the US, they'll then apply for the license, get legally married there and then continue the process.....

    My question is........... would this possibly be an issue with her entering the US on the K1??? I can't see it being one, especially with the US being big on "separation of church and state".

    What is starting to concern me is, we're hearing for others with the opinion, that think it will. Here it's basically going to be a declaration before God and a party afterwards.

    They will not wear their wedding bands when the cross into the US, etc...

    We've planned for their Canadian event to take place in Oct. This was based on the presumption that the K1 process would take about a year. This would still give time for her to enter the US and marry in the requied time frame.

    Any input on this would be GREATLY appreciated. I've had a very stressful few days worrying about this. Thanks so much!

    Comment


    • #3
      <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Momof2:
      I'm so glad I stumbled across this forum. I have a unique question that I'm hoping can be answered here.

      My Canadian daughter is engaged to marry an American. We live on a border city (in Canada), so this is obviously not unheard of. Unfortunately we've heard many different scenarios of how people enter "illegally" and not technically follow the "rules". They want to make sure they do things legally in both countries and that she immigrates properly.

      They have been dating for 2½ years. Her fiance sent off the initial forms to start the K1 Visa process back in August.

      My daughter would like to be "married" in our home church, where she's gone since birth. We know that by entering the US with a K1, that she can not be already married. So, the plan we are considering is that they get married in Canada "in the eyes of God and before witnesses" ONLY. No marriage license will be applied for here and absolutely no legal documentation will be written, neither at city hall or within the church. I've spoken with Service Ontario and they say that this is fine, as it's just a religious ceremony, not a legal one. Once they enter the US, they'll then apply for the license, get legally married there and then continue the process.....

      My question is........... would this possibly be an issue with her entering the US on the K1??? I can't see it being one, especially with the US being big on "separation of church and state".

      What is starting to concern me is, we're hearing for others with the opinion, that think it will. Here it's basically going to be a declaration before God and a party afterwards.

      They will not wear their wedding bands when the cross into the US, etc...

      We've planned for their Canadian event to take place in Oct. This was based on the presumption that the K1 process would take about a year. This would still give time for her to enter the US and marry in the requied time frame.

      Any input on this would be GREATLY appreciated. I've had a very stressful few days worrying about this. Thanks so much! </div></BLOCKQUOTE>Hi Momof2 and welcome to the forum. One suggestion I would like to make before I answer is that you change your OP title to include "Immigration Law Question" so that you can receive honest answers to your question.

      AS for your situation, the key here is when your daughtr is to marry in Canada. Under the K1 rules, your daughter needs to get married inside the US within 90 days after entering the U.S under such visa. My suggestion to you is that your daughter and future son-in-law perform a civil marriage in the state where they will reside before marrying in Canada. If the marriage occurs in Canada first and the U.S. recognizes that marriage, then the K1 visa will be null and void. She will have to enter under the K3 visa.

      If you do it your way, it could become an issue upon entering because the wrong visa was issued even after your daughter was approved for the K1.

      Good luck to you and congrats to your daughter.
      "Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence." John Adams on Defense of the boston Massacre

      Comment


      • #4
        Thank you Hudson, for your quick response and suggestion to change the title.

        I understand that she can not enter the US married. The "marriage" in Canada, would not be a "legal" marriage. They will not post banns, apply for a marriage license or even register the ceremony with a government agency in Canada.

        For all intents and purposes, it basically will strictly be a "religous ceremony". By law, she would still be entering the US as a fiance.

        Any other thoughts on this??

        Comment


        • #5
          [QUOTE]Originally posted by Hudson:
          My suggestion to you is that your daughter and future son-in-law perform a civil marriage in the state where they will reside before marrying in Canada. If the marriage occurs in Canada first and the U.S. recognizes that marriage, then the K1 visa will be null and void. [QUOTE]

          Sorry, I was interrupted during my last response and had to finish quickly. Thank you for the welcome too!

          A friend of a friend did as was suggested above. The thing is, though, the canadian was working in the US at the time and I'm pretty sure they didn't re-enter on the K-1. She's checking on that for me.

          I'm not sure the above suggestion would be feasible because technically if they married in the state first, then the ceremony in Canada, when they re-entered the US, it would still be against the K-1 because they would be re-entering already legally married, since they'd had the civil ceremony, right??
          This would then show a direct contradiction as far as date/time of entering the US on the K-1 and what the date/time is on the marriage license when they go to change her status after marriage.

          What seem so simple is getting complicated......

          Comment


          • #6
            Hi Momof2 and Welcome,

            I agree with Hudson that the religious ceremony in Canada should take place after they follow the guidelines for the K-1 visa and marry in the US within the 90-day timeframe. Even though you say there will be no marriage documents from the ceremony in Canada, they will still be technically married which could violate the conditions of the K-1 visa. I don't think they want to take that risk.

            Best of luck to them (and to you)!

            Comment


            • #7
              Legal vs religious is a tricky one and it doesn't necessarily matter if no license is applied for, banns are called etc etc - what matters is whether or not it's considered to be legally binding in the jurisdiction it takes place in. If a religious ceremony alone is enough for the country/state to consider the couple married, then in the eyes of USCIS, they're married. It might also be valid for immigration purposes if the parties entered into it in good faith and consider themselves married.

              I'm afraid I'm with Hudson and Proud on this one. They can do a small civil ceremony in the US and then head back to Canada for the real deal. I don't think that risking it and then lying through their teeth about it and hoping they don't get caught out is a great start for what should be a wonderful new life for both of them.
              **************************************
              The whole of life is but a moment of time. It is our duty, therefore to use it, not to misuse it - Plutarch

              Comment


              • #8
                <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Aroha:
                what matters is whether or not it's considered to be legally binding in the jurisdiction it takes place in. If a religious ceremony alone is enough for the country/state to consider the couple married, then in the eyes of USCIS, they're married. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

                Thank you for the responses and kind wishes, everyone.

                In regards to this post above, that was my point about it being a strictly religious ceremony. Without the license and registering the whole thing it will NOT be considered legally binding in Canada. I spoke with Service Ontario and she clearly confirmed that. They would NOT be considered legally married by the laws of Ontario.

                I guess I'm just now REALLY confused with the suggestion: as to how they could be legally married in the US, then come back to Canada and then re-enter the US using the K-1. How could that not then be considered lying through their teeth? Because by doing that, there would be legal documentation of their marriage..... within the States and at some point they would have to show that to immigration. That would prove she had entered the US illegally using the K-1. She would have not been a fiance, but a spouse upon entrance.

                Comment


                • #9
                  We probably didn't explain it very well, did we? LOL.

                  OK, after they marry in the US, they can apply for the Adjustment of Status to LPR and, at the same time, they can apply for what's called Advance Parole. Advance Parole means that she can leave the US before her residency is approved. She wouldn't actually be coming back on her K1 visa, she'd be coming back on the basis of her pending LPR status. It's approved pretty quickly, so it wouldn't be a long wait, though AoS generally only takes 3-6 months on average.

                  As to the rest, I dunno. USCIS goes by their own rules and they sometimes apply them very liberally. The second part of what I said above is the more worrying - that is if the couple believes themselves to be married, so could the USCIS. That seems entirely too open to interpretation for my tastes.

                  Ultimately it's up to her and her fiance, but they need to know what could happen should they try it. If it were my child, I'd be urging them not to, in all honesty.
                  **************************************
                  The whole of life is but a moment of time. It is our duty, therefore to use it, not to misuse it - Plutarch

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Thank you for clearing that up, LOL! Now I understand what you all meant. Wish it wasn't so complicated.

                    Guess we have some thinking to do. If anyone else has a different take on the situation, I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I edited my post as you were adding yours, obviously. Just wanted to add that Advance Parole doesn't take long to approve.

                      The only other way to do it without running any risks is to marry in Canada and go straight for LPR. Unfortunately though, that can take an average of 12 months, during which time, she may not even be able to travel to the US. It's a funny one - since she'd be an intending immigrant, she wouldn't technically eligible to enter with a non-immigrant visa or a visa waiver, so if border patrol wanted to be pedantic, they could refuse entry.
                      **************************************
                      The whole of life is but a moment of time. It is our duty, therefore to use it, not to misuse it - Plutarch

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Yes, we were aware of that other option and that is why they decided to do the K-1. They didn't want to have to be possibly separated with her not being able to enter the US for a year or so.

                        We were under the impression that it was "illegal" to enter the US without a visa, with intent to stay. That would be the case if she entered the US, then the got married and applied for the adjustment of status. They would know that she entered not in good faith, right?

                        When entering on the K-1, what kind of questions would they be asking? I'm just wondering how they would know there was a religious ceremony?

                        I wanted to add, plus the K-1 is already in the works. Could they not deport her then, if she married in the US having not entered with intent to marry without proper documentation??

                        *sigh* here we thought we were doing well planning on following the laws of both countries and still her having a "marriage dedication ceremony" at her home church.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          There's not actually any rules against entering and getting married, so long as she leaves the US before her status expires. You are right - while there is an avenue to adjust if she enters and then doesn't leave, they will look at the situation a lot harder if they believe there was any dishonesty about her intentions when she crossed the border.

                          But, I need to clarify. The advice given isn't that she should go to the US without the K1. She should absolutely wait until she has it in her hand. We're simply advising that rather than get married in Canada and then travel to the US on the K1, she should travel to the US on the K1, get married, and then once she's filed for her Adjustment of Status and has her Advance Parole documents, she can travel back to Canada for her dream wedding.

                          I know it's not ideal, but in all honesty, it's the safest option and much better than the worst case scenario, which involves criminal charges, deportation and a permanent entry bar. And believe me, it's happened before - one little mistake, even years later and it all hits the fan. A couple that had lived in the US for years were caught out after supplying their wedding date when applying for Citizenship and it was discovered that they were married before they each immigrated separately on visas they weren't eligible for. I don't know about you, but I'd rather not have one of my kids watching their step for the rest of their life over one little decision.
                          **************************************
                          The whole of life is but a moment of time. It is our duty, therefore to use it, not to misuse it - Plutarch

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            THANK YOU Aroha, for your advice and explanation. I wasn't quite understanding, thinking she was to cross without the K-1 the first time.

                            Okay, I totally get it and thanks also for clarifying the AP. I knew I'd read about it before, but so many people you hear "can't leave the US for a year (or more) until their paperwork is done". I don't understand THAT, if this Advance Parole is available within months basically.

                            You're right, it's not ideal but they have wanted to ensure that everything was done by the book, so it's pretty clear to me now.

                            Again, I truly appreciate the time and patience you've had answering my questions honestly............. LOL, even though that's not what I wanted to hear.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Momof2:
                              Okay, I totally get it and thanks also for clarifying the AP. I knew I'd read about it before, but so many people you hear "can't leave the US for a year (or more) until their paperwork is done". I don't understand THAT, if this Advance Parole is available within months basically. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

                              The people you hear say that are usually people who were out of status before applying. If they've overstayed and/or are illegally in the US, leaving triggers a 3-10 year entry bar. AP does not guarantee that they'll be allowed reentry in that situation, so it's generally safer for them to remain in the US until they have their green cards in hand. For those that do it by the book to start with, it's not an issue.

                              <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Momof2:Again, I truly appreciate the time and patience you've had answering my questions honestly............. LOL, even though that's not what I wanted to hear. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

                              You're welcome I'm sure that you had your own ideas about your baby girl's dream wedding. I'm not trying to dash them - just encourage a restructure! LOL.
                              **************************************
                              The whole of life is but a moment of time. It is our duty, therefore to use it, not to misuse it - Plutarch

                              Comment

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