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Kathryn Baer

Having a Private Ceremony Before K-1 is Approved & Nexus Card

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My fiance & I submitted our K-1 Fiance Visa package in November, 2016 and received our NOA1 on November 28, 2016. We have been talking about having a small private ceremony with our parents here in Canada where I live (potentially in March or April) before the forms go through and then I would live there (in the USA) with him until the forms go through (or until my 6 months are up). Since my dad is not permitted to enter the USA at this time (they say he was arrested recently but hasn't been arrested since his last impaired in 1984) he can't come to Boise or Portland for the official, legal wedding ceremony, which is why we want to do a small, private ceremony here in Canada so that my parents can be involved, too. No signing of any forms, just a private ceremony with our vows and me in a pretty dress. Once the forms go through we would do the "Official" legal marriage. We were just wondering if anyone has done this before and what their experience was? 

 

Also, I was wondering if anyone knew if since I recently obtained my Nexus/Global Entry Card (my fingerprints & background check for the USA were done in October, 2016) if that could potentially help make obtaining the K-1 faster? I am in the USA system already, and pretty recently at that, so I have hope that it will somehow make things go faster. Any advice/help would be greatly appreciated! :)

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Nexus and all probably won't make it go much quicker. Maybe a little bit with the background check but the overall process will stay the same time frame.

 

As to the ceremony.... do no, do not sign any forms, and do not share any photos from that ceremony with anyone or the embassy. People who have done these 'little ceremonies' have been denied K-1's in the past because the embassy then views you as "Too married for the K-1" even if you aren't legally married. So proceed with caution on this.

 

For myself, I would say don't do it...  but again do it cautiously if you must.

Edited by Ben&Zian

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Regarding ceremony in Canada: Should be totally fine, but make sure your SO brings proof of ties to the US (i.e. the NOA you got, proving that it's actually YOU who is then moving down, not vice-versa). HOWEVER SIGN NOTHING AND DO NOT ACTUALLY GET MARRIED (You probably know this already).

 

As a NEXUS cardholder myself, it did absolutely nothing to speed anything up. I obtained my NEXUS card I believe shortly after the NOA2. It was handy to use to fly to Montreal to skip security, however...

Edited by zilchfox

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4 minutes ago, Ben&Zian said:

People who have done these 'little ceremonies' have been denied K-1's in the past because the embassy then views you as "Too married for the K-1" even if you aren't legally married. So proceed with caution on this.

That's so weird. It's basically a common law marriage and basically just word of mouth. Why would it be an issue if they aren't married on paper? They wouldn't qualify for the CR1/IR1 either.

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2 minutes ago, zilchfox said:

That's so weird. It's basically a common law marriage and basically just word of mouth. Why would it be an issue if they aren't married on paper? They wouldn't qualify for the CR1/IR1 either.

It has happened in a lot of different cultures on here. The embassy sees these photos and again considers them "Too married for a K-1" but yes you're right, "Not married enough for a CR-1", its just a gray area.

 

People then tend to have to go actually get married and file a CR-1. It's just best to avoid these situations.

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This is just my opinion based on being a member here. I would personally avoid any ceremony that 'could' suggest that you are married, it is more difficult for you to prove that you aren't than you being married. Even though you wouldn't be married, it's not worth the potential problems you could face if they decide to flag it up, saying nothing won't mean that it won't get out somehow or somewhere (Facebook can be the devil with things like this, so that would be a no no), so just my opinion.... avoid doing it, it's just not worth it. Do the ceremony with family and friends after you're approved AP, I'm sure they'll understand.

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Huh, today I learned something new.

 

Probably best to get married legitimately first in the U.S. on paper, and then once you have your Adjustment of Status filed and Advance Parole granted, go to Canada for the actual ceremony so your father can attend.

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Technically, you can do the ceremony and not get married. However, USCIS tends to view this with a lot of scrutiny in areas where it's not the custom to have such a ceremony (i.e. in Vietnam, an engagement ceremony is customary). Their concern, and unfortunately it's warranted, is that people get married anyway and still use the K-1 process to enter the US. It's generally better to just forego any such pre-wedding ceremony as to not raise any such concerns, even though you aren't doing anything wrong. Better safe than sorry.

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Thanks for all your responses you guys. I understand that there could definitely be some major issues that could come up from having any kind of ceremony before the visa is approved and we get married in the USA. It just really saddens me that I'd have to get married without my dad there, which is why we had thought of doing the private ceremony first. I've always liked the whole symbolism behind the father walking his daughter down the aisle and "giving her away" to the groom. My dad would love to be there, but he does understand that it may simply just not work. He's in the process of obtaining a pardon (for who knows what cause he's done literally nothing) so maybe that will go through by the time our forms go through as well.

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A "common law marriage" actually has legal weight in some states.

States That Recognize Common Law Marriage

Only a few states recognize common law marriages, and each has specific stipulations as to what relationships are included:

  • Alabama
  • Colorado
  • District of Columbia
  • Georgia (if created before 1/1/97)
  • Idaho (if created before 1/1/96)
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Montana
  • New Hampshire (for inheritance purposes only)
  • Ohio (if created before 10/10/91)
  • Oklahoma (possibly only if created before 11/1/98. Oklahoma’s laws and court decisions may be in conflict about whether common law marriages formed in that state after 11/1/98 will be recognized.)
  • Pennsylvania (if created before 1/1/05)
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Texas
  • Utah

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3 hours ago, Kathryn Banman said:

Thanks for all your responses you guys. I understand that there could definitely be some major issues that could come up from having any kind of ceremony before the visa is approved and we get married in the USA. It just really saddens me that I'd have to get married without my dad there, which is why we had thought of doing the private ceremony first. I've always liked the whole symbolism behind the father walking his daughter down the aisle and "giving her away" to the groom. My dad would love to be there, but he does understand that it may simply just not work. He's in the process of obtaining a pardon (for who knows what cause he's done literally nothing) so maybe that will go through by the time our forms go through as well.

Incredibly bad idea to do it beforehand.

 

But I'm confused--why can't you have a private ceremony and have your father walk you after the fact? If the private ceremony wasn't a real wedding, anyway, what difference does it make?

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5 hours ago, Kathryn Banman said:

My fiance & I submitted our K-1 Fiance Visa package in November, 2016 and received our NOA1 on November 28, 2016. We have been talking about having a small private ceremony with our parents here in Canada where I live (potentially in March or April) before the forms go through and then I would live there (in the USA) with him until the forms go through (or until my 6 months are up). Since my dad is not permitted to enter the USA at this time (they say he was arrested recently but hasn't been arrested since his last impaired in 1984) he can't come to Boise or Portland for the official, legal wedding ceremony, which is why we want to do a small, private ceremony here in Canada so that my parents can be involved, too. No signing of any forms, just a private ceremony with our vows and me in a pretty dress. Once the forms go through we would do the "Official" legal marriage. We were just wondering if anyone has done this before and what their experience was? 

 

Also, I was wondering if anyone knew if since I recently obtained my Nexus/Global Entry Card (my fingerprints & background check for the USA were done in October, 2016) if that could potentially help make obtaining the K-1 faster? I am in the USA system already, and pretty recently at that, so I have hope that it will somehow make things go faster. Any advice/help would be greatly appreciated! :)

DO NOT have any ceremonies at all.  Just get married after the K-1 is issued.  You can always go back to Canada and have another wedding for your family there.  You are asking for trouble.

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