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Planning American wedding, already married abroad, no intention of living in U.S.

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  • Planning American wedding, already married abroad, no intention of living in U.S.

    My wife (S. Korean citizen) and I (American citizen) were married in S. Korea last year, we are now planning our wedding ceremony for my side of the family in America.

    She can come into the U.S. as a tourist through the ESTA process (she doesn't need a tourist visa), she probably will be travelling with her parents on her flight over (I will not be on the flight).

    We both plan on returning to a 3rd country for work and study after the marriage, we have our plane tickets booked. We have been living abroad for many years and do not plan on moving back to the U.S. for the next 2 years at least.

    From what I can tell, it's a matter of if the Boarder and Customs official deems her truthful when she says she will be leaving when she says she will (about two weeks later). I hope she can tell the truth about the wedding, but I know it will raise flags if she does say it as they might think she just plans to stay in the country.

    Any thoughts and comments would be greatly appreciated, as I'm hyperventilating thinking about all the planning and money we are spending on the ceremony and then for the bride not to be allowed in the country.

    What documents should I have prepared for her to prove her case?

    Thank you so much.

  • #2
    Hi KoreaLove,

    Unfortunately, I think you're rightfully worried. CBP has full discretion as to whether they allow someone into the country at the border.

    I always tell our clients to be as truthful as possible when talking to federal officers. In your case, I think your wife should be honest with whichever officer it is. While being interviewed, she should not answer any question with any more information than necessary to give a direct answer. If the officer decides to get into more detailed questions, she should just go with it, because she has nothing to hide. She should be prepared with evidence that she is married to you already, as well as evidence that there is going to be another wedding ceremony. Perhaps most importantly, she should be prepared with evidence that she plans on leaving the U.S. again sometime after the ceremony. The best evidence of this may be an official job offer, or maybe a mortgage or lease where you plan to live. But don't consider this an exhaustive list. She should prepare as much documentation as possible to back up her story. No doubt you already know that these CBP officers can be brutal.

    Best wishes,

    Last edited by samlynn; 04-18-2019, 02:00 PM.