Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘Marriage Registration’

28th April 2023

With the end of the Emergency Decree in Thailand and the resumption of standard Thai Immigration protocols there have been a number of situations arising wherein foreign nationals are having an increasingly difficult time extending their Thai visa status. Those eligible opt to utilize the Thai O marriage visa as a method of maintaining status. One of the downsides of this type of Thai visa is the heightened scrutiny associated with this category as Thai Immigration officers are keen to expose “sham marriages” whenever and wherever possible.

Another issue, is the increasing difficulty associated with marriage registration in Thailand. It seems that post-COVID the process of registering a marriage between a foreign national and a Thai, or two foreign nationals for that matter, has become increasingly cumbersome. Furthermore, the overall time frame associated with processing registration of such marriages has increased rather dramatically. This is causing frustration for many foreigners seeking to marry a Thai and this is compounded by the complex nature of Thai O visa issuance associated therewith.

Meanwhile, these developments have ramifications for American Immigration as well. AS discussed many times on this blog, the process of obtaining an American tourist visa for a Thai national is nearly impossible due to the provisions of section 214(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Application of this statute requires that consular officers be convinced that the applicant has demonstrated “strong ties” to Thailand, or another country which is not the USA, and “weak ties” to the USA. For many, this is not possible, especially in light of the doctrine of “Consular Absolutism” or “Consular Non-Reviewability“. An upshot to this is that many Americans opt to seek either a fiancee or marriage visa to the USA. In the past, the K-1 visa (the categorical designation for a fiance visa) was the fastest option to bring a Thai fiance to the USA. Since the end of the governmentally implemented lockdowns within the American immigration apparatus the fiance visa’s processing time has slowed substantially. This has lead many to seek lawful status via either the CR-1 visa or the IR-1 visa. It should be noted that while the K-3 visa remains a theoretical option for those seeking a visa for a spouse, as a practical matter this visa is not being issued with regularity. However, the issue with the CR-1 nd IR-1 categories is the fact that a couple must be married in order to be eligible for the benefit and with Thai marriage processing becoming more cumbersome, this method is not presently the most optimal. There may be options with regard to so-called “proxy marriage” in the USA, but this method presents its own set of problems as jurisdictional issues, timing, and consummation can prove nettlesome. It remains to be seen whether or not this situation becomes more tenable as the months progress. We will keep you updated on this blog as the situation evolves.

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17th August 2013

In previous postings on this blog the issues related to same sex marriage in the United States, and the immigration benefits connected thereto have been discussed. However, discussion about how same sex marriage is viewed in the eyes of the law in Thailand has been comparably brief. As of the time of this writing, there would seem to be a growing movement to legalize same sex unions in Thailand following a recent case involving two same sex partners who attempted to register their union in Thailand in much the same manner as different-sex couples. To quote directly from the Asia Times website:

Last year, Nathee Theeraronjanapong (55) and his partner Atthapon Janthawee (38) decided to make their 20-year relationship legal. Citing section 1448 of Thailand’s Civil and Commercial Code, which deems same-sex marriage unlawful, the head of registrations in Thailand’s northern city of Chiang Mai handed the couple a letter of denial…

An English translation of Section 1448 of the Thai Civil and Commercial Code reads as follows:

A marriage may take place only when the man and woman have completed their seventeenth year of age. But the Court may, with appropriate reason, allow them to marry before attaining such age.

In much the same way that Section 3 the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) only Federally recognized marriages between a man and a woman (notwithstanding the fact that some States recognized such unions) the governing laws of the Kingdom of Thailand only recognize marriage as a union between two people of the opposite sex. Notwithstanding the law’s view of this issue, it should be noted that the Kingdom of Thailand remains one of the most tolerant jurisdictions in Asia when it comes to issues of race, religion, creed, and sexuality. Thailand has a significant and thriving LGBT community and even in the workplace the sexual preferences of employees are considered personal matters. This stands in stark comparison to the atmosphere in other Asian countries and even other jurisdictions within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). To quote from the website of Inter Press Service News Agency:

Sodomy is criminalised in six member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) – namely, Brunei, Burma, Malaysia and Singapore, as well as Marawi City in the Philippines and the South Sumatra Province of Indonesia.

At a very early stage compared to other nations around the world (including the United States), in 1956 Thailand repealed the law making sodomy illegal thereby permitting intimate consensual relationships between consenting adults of the same sex. This decision placed Thailand among the most progressive nations in Asia (and the world) on the issue of LGBT equality.

However, it would appear that implementing policies to allow same sex marriage in Thailand is a more daunting endeavor. Many outsiders view Thailand as having a somewhat laissez-faire, perhaps even libertarian view, on social issues. In fact, many Thais are very conservative in their opinions, especially Thais of the older generations. This is not to say that such people are intolerant as many Thais maintain very conservative personal opinions while simultaneously remaining tolerant regarding the decisions and life choices of others (a dichotomy which makes Thailand such a wonderful and interesting place to live). However, this dichotomy must be taken into consideration by those pressing for changes to the Thai marriage laws as the Inter Press News Agency noted:

Danai Linjongrat, executive director of the Rainbow Sky Association, has been urging caution in the drafting of the civil union bill, so that it will not inadvertently fan the flames of intolerance and heighten regional stigmatisation of the LGBTIQ community. “We are looking for a bill that equalises all relationships,” he told IPS. “For example, the current marriage law grants heterosexual couples the right to marry once they reach the legal age of 17, but for LGBTIQ people the legal marriage age would be 20 years old.”

This blogger feels that it is likely that the rules regarding registration of marriage for same sex couples in Thailand will change at some point in the future. As the younger generation grows older it stands to reason that many will feel that the current legal prohibitions on same sex marriage are antiquated. Furthermore, Thai lawmakers often maintain a deep sense of pragmatism when it comes to issues which may impact tourism and foreign capital investment in the country. Should same sex marriages be permitted in Thailand, the already large LGBT tourism sector would likely grow due to others from Asia (and around the globe) traveling to Thailand to register their marriages. Also, those foreign nationals with a Thai same sex spouse would be more likely to bring their assets to a jurisdiction which recognizes their union as such a jurisdiction would provide ancillary benefits regarding issues such as estate planning, healthcare decision making, and taxation. Although LGBT equality is a human rights issue and not strictly one of economics, the economic component of the same sex marriage debate is one that lawmakers are likely to take seriously. The conclusion of the same sex marriage debate in Thailand remains to be seen, but a rational debate of this issue in Thailand is a good start.

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13th April 2010

For information in English please see: marriage registration.

มีคนหลายคนแต่งงานในประเทศไทยในแต่ละปี เราได้รับคำถามเกี่ยวกับการยอมรับการสมรสในประเทศไทยจากลูกค้าชาวต่างชาติมากมาย ประเทศไทยไม่ใช่ประเทศในระบอบคอมมอนลอว์ และเพราะเหตุนั้นการสมรสตามกฎหมายคอมมอนลอว์ไม่สามารถใช้ยันในศาลไทยได้ นั่นหมายความว่าแม้ประเทศไทยจะเป็นระบบกฎหมายซีวิลลอว์ การแต่งงานตามประเภณีหรือตามศาสนายังคงเป็นเรื่องที่ปกติ นี่อาจจะมีสาเหตุมาจากการจดทะเบียนสมรสเป็นไปค่อนข้างยาก โดยเฉพาะสำหรับคนที่ไม่คุ้นเคยกับระบบกฎหมายไทยและหน่วยงานราชการของไทย

ในประเทศไทย การสมรสคือการจดทะเบียนที่สำนักงานอำเภอ สำนักงานนี้เป็นหน่วยงานที่รับข้อมูลด้านสำมะโนประชากร และในระบบอเมริกันเราเรียกว่า Court Clerk อำเภอจะเก็บข้อมูลของบุคคลที่มีภูมิลำเนาอยู่ในเขตนั้นๆ ดังนั้นอำเภอจะเก็บข้อมูลการเปลี่ยนชื่อ การสมรส การเกิด และการตายในประเทศไทย เป็นไปได้ที่บุคคลที่ไม่มีสัญชาติไทยสองคนจะสมรสกันในประเทศไทย อนึ่ง สำนักงานแต่ละแห่งจะมีระเบียบภายในของตนเอง ดังนั้นคุณควรปรึกษาทนายเพื่อช่วยเหลือในการจดทะเบียนสมรส

เมื่อมีการจดทะเบียนสมรสตามกฎหมายไทยแล้ว คำถามคือ สหรัฐอเมริกายอมรับการสมรสนั้นหรือไปไม่ พูดง่ายๆก็คือ ยอมรับ ตามเว็บไซต์ของสถานทูตอเมริกาประจำประเทศไทยนั้น ในกรณีที่การสมรสได้ทำขึ้นตามกฎหมายในราชอาณาจักร ประเทศสหรัฐอเมริกายอมรับความสมบูรณ์ของการสมรสนั้นนี่เป็นคำถามสำคัญโดยเฉพาะอย่างยิ่งในกรณีเกี่ยวกับวีซ่าสหรัฐอเมริกา หากว่าการสมรสของคู่สมรสนั้นไม่ได้รับการยอมรับจากสหรัฐอเมริกา คำขอวีซ่า CR1 หรือ K3 สำหรับคู่สมรสก็จะถูกปฏิเสธ เนื่องจากคู่สมรสไม่มีคุณสมบัติที่จะออกวีซ่าให้ อีกทั้งสำหรับคู่รักที่ต้องการขอวีซ่า K1 สำหรับคู่หมั้น ก็อาจจะเกิดมาจากการที่ทั้งคู่ได้สมรสกันในประเทศไทยโดยคิดว่าสหรัฐอเมริกาไม่ยอมรับการสมรสนั้น ในกรณีนั้น USCIS จะถูกบังคับให้ต้องปฏิเสธคำขอเนื่องจากคำขอขาดคุณสมบัติ เจตนาที่จะสมรส ไม่ใช่จากการสมรสนั้น

มุมมองที่น่าสนใจเกี่ยวกับการจดทะเบียนสมรสของไทยที่ต้องเกี่ยวกับการทำสัญญาก่อนสมรส ในประเทศไทย สัญญาก่อนสมรสจะถูกบันทึกไว้พร้อมกับการจดทะเบียนสมรสที่อำเภอใน สำหรับข้อมูลเพิ่มเติมโปรดดูเรื่อง สัญญาก่อนสมรสของไทย

เพื่อเป็นการสรุป การสมรสที่ทำขึ้นอย่างถูกต้องในประเทศไทยถือว่าสมบูรณ์ในประเทศสหรัฐอเมริกา และเพื่อวัตถุประสงค์ในการขอวีซ่าอเมริกา หรือเพื่อผลประโยชน์ทางกฎหมายคนเข้าเมืองอื่นๆ ดังนั้นการสมรสในประเทศไทยไม่ใช่สิ่งที่ควรให้ความสำคัญเพียงเล็กน้อย เมื่อคิดจะทำการสมรสในประเทศไทย โปรดจำไว้ว่าการสมรสนั้นจะถูกปฏิบัติเหมือนการสมรสที่เกิดขึ้นในสหรัฐอเมริกา

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16th June 2009

The whole point of obtaining a K1 visa is to allow the Thai fiancee a 90 day visit after traveling to the United States in order to ultimately get married. Should the couple opt not to marry, then the Thai fiancee will need to depart the country before the 90 day visa validity expires.

For those couples applying for an Immigrant Spouse Visa (CR-1 or IR-1) or a K-3 Visa, the marriage should already have taken place as the legal marriage acts as the foundation upon which the visa application is based.

That being stated, unlike Thailand, where marriage registration is a uniform process that essentially involves a trip to the local Amphur office for execution, in America the marriage procedures differ depending upon the state. Also, some states require the couple obtain a marriage license and wait a statutorily prescribed period before marriage. For the convenience of those reading this blog, here is a state by state list of rules regarding US marriage.

Blood Test and Marriage License Requirements by State

State Blood tests required Waiting period between applying for and receiving license How soon you can marry after receiving license When license expires
Alabama No None Immediately 30 days
Alaska No 3 days Immediately 3 months
Arizona No None Immediately 1 year
Arkansas No None Immediately No provision
California No None Immediately 90 days
Colorado No None Immediately 30 days
Connecticut Yes None Immediately 65 days
Delaware No None 24 hours; 96 hours if both spouses are nonresidents 30 days
District of Columbia Yes 3 days Immediately No provision
Florida No 3 days unless couple attends marriage preparation class Immediately 60 days
Georgia No None Immediately No provision
Hawaii No None Immediately 30 days
Idaho No None Immediately No provision
Illinois No None 1 day 60 days
Indiana Yes None Immediately 60 days
Iowa No 3 days Immediately No provision
Kansas No 3 days Immediately 6 months
Kentucky No None Immediately 30 days
Louisiana No None 3 days 30 days
Maine No 3 days Immediately 90 days
Maryland No None 2 days 6 months
Massachusetts Yes 3 days Immediately 60 days
Michigan No 3 days Immediately 33 days
Minnesota No 5 days Immediately 6 months
Mississippi Yes 3 days Immediately No provision
Missouri No 3 days Immediately 30 days
Montana Yes None Immediately 180 days
Nebraska No None Immediately 1 year
Nevada No None Immediately 1 year
New Hampshire No 3 days Immediately 90 days
New Jersey No 72 hours Immediately 30 days
New Mexico No None Immediately No provision
New York No None 24 hours 60 days
North Carolina No None Immediately 60 days
North Dakota No None Immediately 60 days
Ohio No None Immediately 60 days
Oklahoma Yes None Immediately 30 days
Oregon No 3 days Immediately 60 days
Pennsylvania No 3 days Immediately 60 days
Rhode Island No None Immediately 3 months
South Carolina No 24 hours Immediately No provision
South Dakota No None Immediately 20 days
Tennessee No None Immediately 30 days
Texas No None 3 days 31 days
Utah No None Immediately 30 days
Vermont No None Immediately 60 days
Virginia No None Immediately 60 days
Washington No 3 days Immediately 60 days
West Virginia No None Immediately 60 days
Wisconsin No 5 days Immediately 30 days
Wyoming No None Immediately No provision

One should bear in mind that upon marriage in the USA, the US Citizen should petition for adjustment of status for his new Thai wife.

For more about the above chart please click here

Please be advised that the above is an improper substitute for personal one-to-one legal advice from an attorney. No attorney client relationship is formed between the reader and the author.

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12th June 2009

Many prospective clients are curious as to the status of a child born to a bi-national couple.  The most common situation we see in Thailand is a couple who has a Thai-American child and the child has dual nationality and is thus entitled to dual citizenship.  However, there are some interesting situations regarding nationality and having done research on this issue I decided to write this brief post in order to disseminate some of the nationality and citizenship rules out there.

US Nationality

A major misconceived notion among American is the idea that an American always transmits his or her citizenship on to his child automatically. This is not necessarily the case. United States Nationality law says:

“For persons born on or after November 14, 1986, a person is a U.S. citizen if all of the following are true

  1. One of the person’s parents was a U.S. citizen when the person in question was born;
  2. The citizen parent lived at least 5 years in the United States before his or her child’s birth;
  3. A minimum of 2 of these 5 years in the United States were after the citizen parent’s 14th birthday.”

Therefore, if the United States Citizen parent does not meet this criteria, then the child could be born without US citizenship. That being said, it would be possible to file an I-130 application for a Permanent Resident Visa and upon entry into the USA, the child becomes a Citizen by operation of law.

Irish Citizenship by Marriage

There was a time when the spouse of an Irish Citizen could acquire Irish Citizenship by declaration after marriage. This was once a matter of right, but this law is no longer in effect and thus a couple now must comply with new regulations in order to obtain an Irish passport for a foreign spouse.

Citizenship by Marriage

In an effort to end “marriages of convenience,”  i.e. marriage executed solely to obtain another person’s citizenship, many countries throughout the world have repealed laws that allow foreign nationals to obtain citizenship simply by marriage. Two notable exceptions to this are Tuvalu and Barbados, but Barbados only allows this if a Barbadian man marries a foreign woman, seemingly if the genders of the couples are reversed, then the Barbadian nationality does not transmit upon marriage.

Asian Countries That Do Not Allow Dual Citizenship

Japan and Korea expressly prohibit their citizens from holding dual nationality. In cases where a child is born to parents of differing nationality, the child is generally required to choose one of the two nationalities by a statutorily specified age.

Dual Citizenship and Thailand

Thailand does not expressly prohibit dual nationality, but the attitude toward those holding two passports is somewhat less than enthusiastic. In cases of a Luk Krueng or half-Thai child, the Thai nationality will likely transmit to the child. If the foreign parent is a US Citizen and meets the criteria above, then the child would also be born with American nationality. Thus the child would be truly Thai-American.

(Please note: Nothing in this article should be used in place of legal advice. Particularly in the area of nationality law, rules and codes change over time so information that was once true, might later prove false. Therefore, it is wise to retain the services of an attorney in the country one wishes to the obtain nationality of. Nothing in this piece should be viewed as creating an attorney-client relationship between author and writer.)

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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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