Normally, a marriage certificate should be enough as the proof of marriage. However, as there are many fraud cases for a marriage-based green cards and other immigration benefits, the consular officer may ask for additional proof of genuine marriage.
Marriage ceremonies and customs vary in different parts of the world. Therefore, it is not possible for anyone (even the consular officer) to know about all the different procedures everywhere. However, whatever the normal procedures and ceremonies in your area and religion are should be followed, and appropriate proof or evidence 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. For example, Muslims in many countries can keep up to four wives and even marry close relatives, such as first cousins. However, polygamy and such marriages are considered illegal in all U.S. states.
No matter how you get married, the marriage should be genuine for the purpose of marriage and not for the immigration benefits. Some people get married on paper first (through a registered marriage or court marriage) for visa purposes and then later get married traditionally. That is not a good idea.
Make sure that the spouses-to-be are of legal age to get married according to the local rules and that any previous marriages are no longer valid because of divorce, death of spouse, etc. Customary divorce is not enough.
It is important to have specific photographs showing important parts of the marriage ceremony. Make sure that the spouses-to-be are easily identifiable in photographs.
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Depending upon the type of marriage, in addition to the marriage certificate, the following documents should be presented:
- Traditional Hindu Marriage:
- Entire wedding album.
Make sure they include photographs of the marriage ceremony, such as putting sindoor in bride’s “maang”, putting a “mangalsutra” around the bride’s neck, rounds around the fire, the mother-in-law welcoming her future son-in-law, the family seeing off the bride, taking blessings of the elderly, the priest, etc.
- Wedding invitation card
- List of invited guests
- Marriage hall payment receipt
- Receipts of payments to decorators and caterers
- Marriage photo album, DVD, or digital videos
- Entire wedding album.
- 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. Anyone of any religion can get married this way.
Additionally, make sure to get photographs when both of you are signing the marriage registrar. If possible, get photographs with the marriage registrar and also with those signed as witnesses.
Before marriage, the spouses-to-be and their three witnesses have to provide an affidavit to the marriage registrar. The marriage can be done at any place and in any way they please as long as the spouses-to-be accept each other as legal spouses in front of the marriage registrar and the three witnesses.
In addition to proof that you have gotten married to the U.S. person, you should also show proof that you have consummated the marriage, as well. You can provide evidence like honeymoon arrangements; receipt of the hotel suite booking; decorated room; bookings of the hill station or seaside hotel; hotel bills; photographs; and proof of travel, such as airplane, train, or bus tickets.