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Opinion

‘Remote wedding’ possible for same-sex couples

IMMIGRATION CORNER - Michael J. Gurfinkel - The Philippine Star

Over the years, US citizens or green card holders have consulted with me about how to petition their same-sex partners who live in another country where same-sex marriages are not recognized. For example, their partner lives in the Philippines, which does not recognize or officiate same-sex marriages. In this scenario, the partner may not be able to obtain a tourist visa to come to the US and marry (which might also violate the intent necessary for a visitor visa).

A possible solution could be a “remote wedding.” The State of Utah recognizes and performs “remote weddings” (via Zoom, FaceTime or other videoconferencing), where you and your same-sex partner do not need to be present in Utah or even at the same location. For example, the US citizen or green card partner could be in California, New York, etc. and the other partner could be in the Philippines or another country and appear for the ceremony via Zoom or FaceTime!

According to the website for the Utah County Clerk (https://www.utahcounty.gov/dept/clerk/marriage/ceremony.html):

The couple first obtains a Utah marriage license, which can be done online.

Once the ceremony is scheduled, “both the couple and the two witnesses must be able to appear via a live video feed during the ceremony.” This can be done via Zoom, FaceTime or other live video feed.

The couple and witnesses do not have to be in the same physical location to participate in the ceremony. Therefore, the parties and witnesses could be in several different locations. They don’t even have to be in Utah; only the solemnizing officer is in Utah.

After the ceremony, the marriage must be consummated, which means the parties must see each other in person after the video ceremony and have a wedding night. This is called a “proxy marriage,” which, under US immigration law, would be valid and recognized as long as the marriage was consummated after the proxy ceremony.

Therefore, if a same-sex couple is having problems getting married because some countries do not recognize same-sex marriages, they could have a proxy marriage in Utah. Then the petitioner could take a trip to the Philippines, where the marriage would be consummated, in which case the marriage would be “valid as of the date of the proxy ceremony.” Thereafter, the petitioner returns to the US and could file a spousal petition based on the Utah remote marriage.

If you have issues getting married, whether same-sex or even a recent Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) who perhaps recently immigrated as single under F-2B (green card parent petitioning a single child over 21), leaving behind a girlfriend (or boyfriend), you could now marry remotely, later consummate the marriage and then file a spousal petition. However, I would strongly recommend you consult with and have an attorney process the case, as the attorney would have all the legal arguments and case citations to support the validity of this marriage.

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WEBSITE: www.gurfinkel.com

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Four offices to serve you: Los Angeles; San Francisco; New York: Toll free number: 1-866-GURFINKEL (1-866-487-3465); Philippines: +632 88940258 or +632 88940239

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