Proof of genuine marriage for U.S. visa and green card

Normally, marriage certificate as the proof of marriage should be enough. However, as there are many fraud cases for marriage based green card or other immigration benefits, the consular officer may ask for additionial proof of genuine marriage.

Marriage ceremonies and customs vary a lot in different parts of the world. Therefore, it is not possible for anyone (even the consular officer) to know about all the procedures everywhere. However, whatever are the normal procedures and ceremonies in your area and in your religion should normally be followed and appropriate proofs should be preserved.

Generally, in order for the marriage to be valid, it should be valid at the place of marriage as well in the U.S. state where the immigration beneficiary is going to stay. E.g., Muslims in many countries can keep up to 4 wives and can even get married to close relatives such as first cousins. However, such marriages are consider illegal in some U.S. states.

No matter how you get married, the marriage should be genuine for the purpose of the marriage, and not for the immigration benefit. Some people get married on paper first (through registered marriage or court marriage) for the visa purposes and then later get married traditionally. That is not a good idea.

Make sure that the groom and the bride are of the legal age to get married according to the local rules, and any previous marriages are no longer valid because of divorce, death of spouse etc. Customary divorce is not enough.

Make sure that the groom and the bride are easily identified in the photographs. It is important to have the specific photographs showing important parts of the marriage ceremony.

Depending upon the type of the marriage, in addition to the marriage certificate, the following documents should be presented:
  • Traditional Hindu Marriage:
    • Entire wedding album.

      Make sure they include the photographs of the marriage ceremoney such as putting sindoor in bride's "maang", putting "mangalsutra" around bride's neck, rounds around the fire, mother-in-law welcoming the to-be son-in-law, family seeing off the bride, taking the blessings of the elderly, and the priest etc.

    • Marriage invitation card

    • List of invited guests

    • Marriage hall payment receipt

    • Receipts of payments to decorators and caterors

    • Marriage photo album, video cassette or DVD.

  • Registered Marriage:
    Court marriage or under Special Marriage Act.

    You must give 30 days notice in the marriage registrar office and pay the fees, before getting married this way. Keep the copy of the notice and fee receipt. Marriage can be done this way by any of any religion.

    Additionally, make sure to get the photographs when both of you are signing in the marriage registrar. If possible, get the photograph with the marriage registrar and also with those signed as the witnesses.

    Before marriage, bride and groom and their three witnesses have to provide the affidavit to the marriage registrar. Marriage can be done at any place and in any way they please as long as the bride and groom accept each other as legal husband and wife in front of the marriage registrar and the three witnesses.

  • Post Marriage:
    In addition to the proof that you have got married to the U.S. person, you should also show the proof that you have consumated the marriage as well. You can show the proofs such as honeymoon arrangements, receipt of the hotel suite booking, decorated room, bookings of the hill station or seaside hotel, proof of travel such as airplane, train or bus, hotel bills, photographs etc.