Integrity Legal

5th May 2009

Buddhist marriage ceremonies are a very interesting aspect of Thai culture. Many Thai and American fiances choose to conduct a customary religious ceremony in order to convey to the world the couple’s mutual desire to remain together and express their commitment to their partner. As Thailand is not a common law country, the idea of “common law marriage,” is not a concept specifically recognized under Thai jurisprudence. Therefore, if a marriage is not duly registered at an Amphur office (a Thai government office with a mandate akin to a department of vital statistics in the United States), then Thai law is unlikely to recognize any type of domestic partnership exists. Therefore, from a practical standpoint, without a duly formalized marriage execution and issuance of a marriage certificate: no marriage exists.

A question often posed by prospective K1 Visa seekers is: if I have a ceremonial or customary marriage in Thailand, will that preclude obtainment of a K1 visa because the Thai fiance no longer meets the legal definition of “fiancee,” under relevant immigration law?

The question of Thai customary wedding ceremonies is not a cut and dried issue, but it can be said that without a registered marriage, then in the eyes of US Immigration law, the couple is not married. Therefore, a couple who have performed a customary wedding ceremony in Thailand, but have not executed a legal marriage will likely be able to obtain a Fiance visa.

From a US Visa and Immigration perspective, the odd upshot of conducting a customary marriage ceremony is the fact that the ceremony can act as evidence in further proving the bona fide nature of the underlying relationship. However, it may be wise to retain representation because explaining the legalities and details of a Thai-American couple’s relationship to the immigration authorities can require legal expertise. Basically an attorney would explain the situation and press home the fact that the couple is not legally married and therefore they meet the definition of fiances for the purpose of American immigration law.

A related question with regard to lack of marriage registration comes up with regard to children born of a Thai Citizen and an American Citizen. Many people ask if American Nationality can be conferred if the marriage was not legally formalized. The short answer to this question: if the child is born of an American Citizen, then the US Citizen’s citizenship will likely transfer to the child automatically upon birth. There are some limitations on this general rule where the US Citizen parent has not had presence in the USA for a statutorily defined amount of time and therefore cannot transmit Citizenship. In a case such as this in Thailand, an Immigration Attorney in Thailand should probably be consulted in order to understand the child’s US Immigration and Nationality options.

For information on US Marriage Visas from Thailand please see:

K3 Visa Thailand

US Marriage Visa

(Note: Nothing in this post should be subsequently used in lieu of individual legal advice from an attorney. No attorney-client relationship is created between the reader and author of this post.)


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2 Responses to “K1 Fiance Visa Thailand: Marriage Ceremony or Legal Registration?”

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  2. [...] K1 Fiance Visa Thailand: Marriage Ceremony or Legal Registration …As Thailand is not a common law country, the idea of “common law marriage,” is not a concept specifically recognized under Thai jurisprudence. Therefore, if a marriage is not duly registered at an Amphur office (a Thai government office … [...]

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