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The Definition of Marriage
There is no exact definition of marriage in immigration law. Marriage is a subject matter of the laws of the state or country in whichthe marriage was entered. Federal laws usually recognize the validity of a marriage if the marriage was valid in the state or country in whichthe marriage was entered as long as the marriage signifies a legal union. Generally, marriages performed legally abroad are considered legitimate in the United States. Keep in mind that marriage laws, which may include residency, documentation, age, and other requirements, vary from country to country. Consular officers can authenticate marriage documents from other countries for a $32 fee.
However, according to The Defence of Marriage Act, U.S. Congress clarifies that the word "marriage" means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife and the word "spouse" refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or wife.. Thus immigration laws do not accept gay or lesbian marriages. For more information, please see our article on Gay Marriage and Immigration.
The Definition of a Spouse
There is no specific statutory definition of a spouse, though a spouse is generally considered the person of the opposite sex who entered a legal marital union. Immigration laws define a spouse more by what it is not than what it is. Immigration laws state that a person does not qualify as a spousefor immigration purposes if the marital relationship was created by a marriage ceremony where the parties were not physically presentsuch as a proxy marriage, unless the marriage has thereafter been consummated.
The USCIS always considers the following factors in determining whether a spousal relationship can form the basis for an immigration petition:
(Updated 10/8/2012 by AG)
For more information about Marriage and Immigration, please click the following links: