We have a lot of individuals who ask us questions about the I-130 marriage requirements. Whether or not the individual has to get married in their country of origin and whether or not the marriage has to occur in a certain place.
The I-130 petition is the petition that you file when you’re married to a United States citizen or a lawful permanent resident. It’s also used to petition other family members as well but let’s focus on the context of couples because that’s what we do here at our firm.
The requirements for an I-130 are the marriage requirements. That you have to have a good faith marriage, that means a marriage based on love and not just solely to receive an immigration benefit. That’s why you have to provide all of your relationship evidence to tell your love story to immigration.
You also have to be legally free to marry and that means that if you had a prior marriage, it ended in divorce, annulment or death. You can’t be married to more than one person. The other requirement is that you have to be legally married. In addition to that bona fide, good faith relationship, you also have to be legally married.
That marriage can occur in any state and in any country. You aren’t required to be married in the United States or in the country where the immigrant is from. It just has to be a legally binding marriage in that state or in that country. For that requirement, we highly recommend you look at the National Visa Center reciprocity table if you decide that you want to have a destination wedding in another country.
Understanding the requirements there, what the legal requirements are for marriage is key because you want to make sure that you have a legally binding marriage in that country. If you are married in the United States, look up the state specific laws and make sure you have a legally binding marriage there and have the proof that is required by immigration that that marriage is legally binding.
There’s no requirement that it has to occur in a certain location. That seems to be a rumor that’s going around.