Marrying in a Foreign Country

A marriage abroad is valid for U.S. immigration purposes if conducted according to the place of marriage. An exception is the marriage against U.S. Federal Policy. Polygamous marriage is not currently valid under Federal Law.

Same sex marriage is valid for U.S. Immigration purposes so long as the marriage is valid in the place of marriage.

Residency Requirement

In most countries, at least one person must be a local resident of that country to marry. In the case of the United States, often a person must be a resident of a State to marry in that State. However, there are many States and also countries that do not have a residency requirement to marry.

Couples can marry while vacationing, so long as they have the proper documents to marry.

A marriage abroad is valid for U.S. immigration purposes if conducted according to the place of marriage
A marriage abroad is valid for U.S. immigration purposes if conducted according to the place of marriage

Some Countries with No Residency Requirements

Australia (NIM – Notice of Intended Marriage – required 31 days prior to marriage); Bahamas (a person must remain in the country at least 24 hours); Barbados; Bermuda (NIM required 2 weeks prior to marriage); Brazil; British Virgin Islands; Cayman Islands; Chile; Costa Rica; Fiji (written paternal parental content required under 21); Greece; Italy; Jamaica (physical presence required at least 24 hours before the marriage); Mongolia; Morocco; Puerto Rico; Scotland; South Africa; Spain (only the Madrid region); Thailand; U.S. Virgin Islands; Venezuela.

Countries That Do Not Allow Non-Residents Marriage

England and Wales; Mexico; French Polynesia (a person must remain in the country for at least 30 days prior to the marriage); St. Maarten (a person must remain in the country for at least 10 days); Argentina; Spain (all regions outside Madrid); France.

Some Countries That Allow Same Sex Marriage

Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, Uruguay, and in some jurisdictions in Mexico.

United States

Massachusetts, California, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, Maryland, Maine, Washington, Delaware, Rhode Island, Minnesota and New Jersey.

Proxy Marriage

Some countries allow proxy marriage. A proxy marriage is when other representatives stand in for the bride or the groom. A double proxy marriage is when the bride and groom each have stand-ins. Proxy marriage by phone is common, especially for soldiers in combat or others who have travel restrictions. However, for U.S. immigration purposes, the marriage must be consummated after the proxy takes place, which means the couple must meet in person in order to proceed on a spouse visa. Proxy marriages in the U.S. are allowed in Colorado, Texas, Montana, Alabama, and California. Montana allows for double-proxy marriage.


Call for Assistance — Once married, we can help to obtain a marriage visa to the U.S.


Call Us for a Free Immigration Consultation / Case Assessment

1-888-483-0311

U.S. toll free

+1 212-483-0311

Outside U.S.

If you have an interest in working with us on case processing, please complete our free consultation form, and we'll give you personal attention.

Complete consultation form

You may also be interested in

    Request a Legal Evaluation

    Interested in working with us?

    This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

    More About Our Immigration Law Firm

    To date, the immigration law firm of Allan S. Lolly & Assoc. P.C. has successfully obtained well over 15,000 K1 fiance visas, CR marriage visas, green cards, immigration bar waivers, VAWA benefits, Asylum benefits, and other family and employment visas.

    Read more about our immigration law firm