United States Marriage License Requirements for Non-Citizens

December 4, 2023
3 min

Whether you and your partner are non-U.S. citizens or you're a U.S. citizen planning to marry a foreigner, understanding the conditions for obtaining a marriage license is crucial. While marriages in the United States are legally binding, certain requirements must be met for recognition by the U.S. or your home country. Fortunately, these stipulations are generally straightforward.

Required Documents for Non-U.S. Citizens

Getting married in the U.S. as a non-U.S. citizen is relatively easy. Couples need to provide identification such as a driver's license, state-issued ID, or passport to the county where they plan to marry. Any valid government ID with a photo should be acceptable. Citizenship or immigration status does not hinder the ability to marry. However, it's essential to note that each state has varying laws, some may require a minimum age, blood tests, and waiting periods.

Requirements for Immigration

Marrying a U.S. citizen does not guarantee automatic citizenship. The non-citizen spouse must prove the genuineness of the marriage, demonstrate good moral character, and meet various requirements to qualify for a green card and potential U.S. citizenship. Conditions include continuous residence in the U.S. after becoming a lawful permanent resident and living in marital union with the citizen spouse for at least three years. It’s best to check the requirements with an immigration lawyer before you decide to get married. 

Additional Information

Before marrying in the U.S., documents should be translated into English. It's also crucial to confirm if your home country recognizes marriages conducted in the U.S. Consultation with a U.S. immigration attorney is advisable, especially if dealing with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), as marriage fraud or criminal convictions can impact success.

Visa Application Process

If applying for a visa to marry in the U.S., the U.S. citizen partner will likely need to apply for a K1 visa, also known as the fiancé(e) visa. After approval, the non-citizen will undergo an interview at the U.S. consulate in their home country. Upon approval, a K1 visa is issued, allowing entry to the U.S. for marriage within 90 days and subsequent application for a green card.

Another option is to skip the hassle of getting a visa, and instead get legally married online. Through Courtly, couples have the convenience of conducting the entire marriage process online, regardless of their location. Obtaining a valid U.S. marriage certificate becomes quick and easy, often within 48 hours, without the need for extensive documentation. After marriage, you and your partner would be eligible to apply for a CR1 Visa, also known as a Spouse Visa, instead of a K1 Visa, which may reduce the overall processing time for a green card.


Do our documents need to be translated to English?

Yes, many states will request that your documents be translated into English. You may also need the translation to be notarized.

Will getting married in the US help our immigration application process?

It won’t make an enormous difference, but it may make the certificate authentication process easier. Couples that get married outside the US would need to get an apostille or authentication before they can submit their marriage certificate to the US officials. We recommend that you discuss the pros and cons with an immigration lawyer

Do I need a travel visa to get married in the US?

Yes, but keep in mind that travel visas are intended for a temporary visit. You are allowed to get married during your visit and then return home before it expires. A travel visa should not be used with the intention of entering the US to marry, stay permanently, and apply for a new status.

Let us handle the paperwork.

Getting married is complicated. Courtly simplifies the process and provides everything necessary to get married online, including providing a licensed officiant who can perform a remote ceremony.

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