(Closed) Civil marriage for immigration purposes

posted 6 years ago in Ceremony
Post # 3
111 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: May 2012

My husband who is from the United Kingdom came over here on a fiance visa and we got married this past May at the courthouse. Next May we are having a big celebration in which his family and friends are all coming and we’re inviting all of my family and friends are too as my parents are the only ones who attended our first one. However it got out and we have just started telling everyone when we see them what happened and tell them we are planning a big celebration next year for it where everyone is invited. We did this because we didn’t know when his visa would go through/when his interview would be/ and when he’d be able to purchase his plane ticket afterwards. Visas cost a lot too ! And it took a big chunk of our money to do this. So now we get to save our money and have what we want to celebrate with everyone. I see nothing wrong with your decision. 

Post # 5
2605 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: October 2010

We had a tiny ceremony (family only) about 4 months before we did a larger reception-type deal. Personally, I think it’s fine to do–and you don’t have to offer any sort of practical reason for the JOP deal, you CAN just do it because you want to–so long as you observe the following caveats:

1. Your JOP ceremony must be small and there have to be strict “rules” about who is invited to that. Generally, that means things like “immediate family only” or, in your case, “Canadians only, except for his parents.” The more you “pick and choose” the greater the likelihood that someone out there will be offended. And by small, we’re talking maybe 10 guests, max, unless your immediate family is particularly large.

2. You MUST tell your guests to your second event that you are already married and that they are not going to be attending a wedding in the traditional sense. There are people who disagree on this, but I’ll tell you why I think honesty is important here. Weddings have a cultural significance that are unmatched by most other events and as such, they are events that people will rearrange work schedules and babysitter needs to attend, travel long distances to attend, and incur bigger personal expenses to attend. Some people, as much as they might love and care for you, might NOT make the same accommodations just to celebrate your marriage or witness a re-enactment of your vows. And it is their right to make that decision. There are quite a few people that you’ll offend if you imply that they are going to be witnesses to your nuptials, when in fact, they will not be. And don’t htink for a second that your JOP deal won’t leak, especially if your parents are involved and/or you have a few guests. So please be honest with your guests.

Now, I think that in some cases, particularly with international couples, two weddings are more common because of the fact that it’s difficult to require everyone from Iowa to travel to Japan and vice-versa. But I dunno–even then I think it’s prudent to tell whomever’s 2nd that you were already married and that they’re going to be either celebrating or witnessing vows.

Having said that, that’s not to say that you can’t do all the fun wedding things–you can wear the dress and re-state your vows in front of all your friends; you can cut the cake; you can do it ALL, essentially, just not under the premise that it’s a wedding. The invites should contain verbiage like, “celebration of their recent marriage” or something. THe other really cool thing that you can do, which I’ve seen at after-the-fact celebrations myself–is consider hiring a videographer or photographer to shoot your JOP ceremony and then showing the video or doing a slideshow or having some albums out to share with your guests at the second affair. Lots of people will find that enjoyable–but again, only IF your JOP is just you or just you and like, your immediate family.

3. Don’t expect gifts. You can register all the same, but don’t be surprised if people forgo the gift for the reason I outlined above (that a wedding-celebration is not the same is an actual wedding). It’s kind of a hard fact to accept, but by doing a private ceremony and a separate reception-deal (or eloping and then doing a separate shindig), you are kind of having your cake and eating it too–you’ve essentially decided to keep people out of the ceremony and then making yourselves the center of attention for a party–sort of like, “I had an awesome birthday that you weren’t invited to, but that’s okay because we can celebrate ME now!” I KNOW that’s not your intention or anything, but I’m telling you that’s sort of what’s going on. So expect that for some people, they won’t consider it necessary to give you a gift since you didn’t consider it necessary to include them in the ceremony. It’s not pettiness; it’s just a reality of the fact that they wouldn’t be attending nuptials, just a celebration.


Post # 6
70 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: June 2013

My SO/fiance is from Afghanistan and I’m from Texas.  Getting a fiance visa would be really hard for us, so we decided to have a destination wedding to St Vincent’s, which allows us to travel and be married without too many restrictions.  He has about 30 days leave so he will take that next year for the wedding and a long honeymoon.  Then he will have to return to Afghanistan and I to Texas, where we will then start the spousal visa paperwork.  Super fun!  After he gets here to the states, we will host a big  party to welcome him home/celebrate our marriage.  I don’t know how or when that will all work out, but at least I get my man and my (eventual) ride off into the sunset!



Post # 7
76 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: August 2013

I’m in a similar situation but I am American and my fiance is Canadian. I understand your feelings about not wanting to have a wedding and then having to be separated for a year from the lover of your life. It’s very hard! 

I think it be great to do a civil ceremony with the JOP first and then do a larger wedding later. I think most of your guests would understand your situation is highly unique and special and requires this to be done. But I mean whoever doesn’t just hasn’t been in your shoes. And you don’t really need to justify it to people. People who love you and want to celebrate with you will just be happy for you both to spend the rest of your lives together as husband and wife AND physically in the same country (like both your families).

Besides I know people who have two weddings who don’t have this issue going on. For example, as a Chinese American a lot of my other Chinese American friends have two weddings. One Chinese and one Western. People give gifts at both (because it’s different people attending each) and both are your wedding. 

Every couple has their own reasoning for doing things and whatever works best for you both is the best option. 

Post # 8
515 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2012

Do it. You really don’t even need to tell anyone. As a prospective immigrant spouse myself, I agree that it would suck to be separated right after being married and I’m sure if anyone finds out about it (and why do they need to, really?), they will be understanding.

Edit: Is it not possible to get a fiance visa so you can be together beforehand?

Post # 9
8 posts
  • Wedding: July 2013

Fiance visas do not exist in Canada. If you have lived together for at least a year, you may apply as common-law partners, but their immigration paperwork guide actually says, “if you are engaged, wait until after the marriage to apply” or something similar. The processing timeline takes a lot longer than six months–for an American citizen immigrating to Canada, we were told it would take eleven months minimum, or as much as two years. 

MapleLeafBride, we were in a similar situation (I am American and he is Canadian). Last year, I arrived in Canada on a temporary work visa (one year ONLY, no extensions!) and had a civil ceremony soon after. We thought that we could submit the paperwork in short order and I would have permanent residency before my one-year visa expired. Yeah, that was probably naive to assume.

If you’re going through Canada, you need to have all your ducks in a row before you start the process. It takes months to gather what you need to get the ball rolling–you will need to first prove that you make enough money to support him, or find a co-sponsor. He will need to have multiple sets of fingerprints taken to send to the FBI and have cleared in every state he has ever lived in–this can get expensive very quickly! There is a medical exam to be paid for, yes this needs to be done up front too. Also, they want a copy of your marriage certificate, and it took four months for the province of Ontario to issue ours. 

I don’t know if it’s possible to send in your application and then send in supplemental materials as you receive them. I spoke with someone from Canadian immigration on the phone who told me we could NOT. After that, I started looking into US immigration, realized we had everything we needed for that ready to go, and sent off the package a week later. If you’re interested in looking into K-1 (fiance/e) visas to the US, or the CR-1 visa (which is what we are doing) then I highly recommend reading the wikis at visajourney.com. Good luck!

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