Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘Register a Thai marriage’

28th October 2009

In Thailand, the method of executing a valid marriage is very different from the United States or other common law jurisdictions. A marriage registration is usually conducted at a local Amphur office (Amphoe office). In cases involving a Thai national marrying another Thai national, the process is very straightforward as the couple need only produce their identity documentation and house registration. However, in cases involving a foreigner and a Thai national, the foreigner must produce a great deal of documentation to prove that he or she is unmarried as well as legally free to marry. Depending upon the person’s home country, some or all of this documentation can be obtained either at the Embassy in Thailand or at offices in the person’s home country.

Two foreigners can also execute a lawful marriage in Thailand, but the registration of the marriage could take more time and require the filing of more documentation as neither of the prospective registrants are Thai citizens. Often, this situation has an easy solution as both parties deal with their home government which provides documentation proving that the prospective registrant is unwed and free to marry. In the case of Myanmar (Burma) this is not necessarily true.

Under the laws of the Union of Myanmar heavy restrictions are placed upon Burmese women who opt to marry non-Burmese people. One aspect of these restrictions that manifests itself often in US Immigration matters is the reluctance or refusal of the Burmese government to issue passports to female Burmese nationals seeking to marry a US Citizen either after issuance of a K1 visa or before issuance of a K3 visa or CR1 visa. The Burmese government’s intransience in these matters often results in difficult Immigration cases as the American government often requires a valid passport before a visa will be issued to a non-US citizen.

In Thai marriage registration cases, a similar problem arises as the Burmese (Myanmar) government, through the Myanmar Embassy in Bangkok, this post often refuses to issue affidavits showing the Burmese national as single and free to marry. Amphurs in Thailand require this document before they will execute a marriage between a Thai or a foreigner and a Burmese national. Therefore, failure to obtain this document results in an inability to marry in the Kingdom. Further, the execution of a marriage in Burma (Myanmar) is likely more difficult due to the statutory restrictions imposed upon Burmese women seeking to marry foreign men.

In situations such as this, it may be necessary to plan ahead and obtain passports and other documentation long before it may ever be necessary. Contacting a Bangkok lawyer or US Immigration lawyer may be beneficial as either of these professionals could advise about solutions to such problems.

One should note that Thai prenuptial agreements can be drafted for a marriage in Thailand, but the agreement must be registered simultaneously with the marriage in order for the agreement to be valid in the Kingdom.

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12th August 2009

Many people get married in Thailand each year. As a result, one of the most common questions received from clients and potential clients involves foreign recognition of a Thai marriage.  Thailand is not a common law system and therefore, the idea of common law marriage is not a concept upheld by courts in the Kingdom of Thailand. That being said, even though Thailand is a civil law system “customary or religious” marriages are still quite commonplace. This is probably due to the fact that marriage registration can be somewhat difficult, particularly for those who have never dealt with the Thai legal system and bureaucracy in the past.

In Thailand, marriages are registered at the local Amphur office. This office is kind of a combination of continual census taker and what in the American system is called a “court clerk.” The Amphur keeps records of the vital statistics of those living within that office’s jurisdiction. Therefore, the Amphur will record name changes, marriages, births, and deaths in Thailand. It is possible for two non-Thais to marry in Thailand. That being said, each office has their own internal protocol. Therefore, it may be wise to contact an attorney in order to assist with the Thai marriage registration process.

Once a Thai marriage is registered the question is: will the United States of America recognize the union. Put simply, yes. According to the website of the US Embassy Thailand, in cases involving marriages legalized in the Kingdom, “the United States does recognize the validity of such a marriage.” This is a critical question particularly in the context of USA visas. If a couple’s marriage is not recognized by the United States, then a visa application for a CR1 visa or a K3 marriage visa would likely be rejected because the couple does not meet the marriage requirement for visa issuance. Also, a couple who wishes to apply for a k1 fiance visa may create a situation where the application gets rejected because the couple got married in Thailand thinking it would not be recognized in the USA.  In that scenario, USCIS would be compelled to reject the application because the requirement is “intent to marry,” and not actual marriage.

One interesting side note regarding Thai marriage registration deals with prenuptial agreements. In Thailand, the prenuptial agreement is actually registered with the marriage and in a way is incorporated into the marital agreement at the time of registration at the Amphur. For more on this issue please see Thai prenuptial agreement

To sum up, marriages properly executed in Thailand will be viewed as valid in the United States and for purposes of obtaining a US visa or other Immigration benefits. Therefore, marriage in Thailand is not something that should be taken lightly. When thinking of entering into a marriage in Thailand keep in mind that the marriage will be treated just the same as if it had been conducted in the United States.

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