Integrity Legal

20th May 2009

I was reading a piece written by the American Immigration Lawyers Association that could be useful for refugees in Thailand. With the political situation in Burma remaining abysmal, refugee issues will probably continue to be a problem in Thailand. The following is an original writing based upon information included in a piece written by AILA:

Recognition of Unregistered Customary Marriages in Refugee Camps

How do the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service Centers view marriages conducted in refugee camps that are not duly registered at a government office or  properly formalized under the laws of the country in which the marriage takes place? For instance, if a customary wedding ceremony occurs in a Burmese refugee camp in the Kingdom of Thailand and the wedding ceremony is properly conducted by the authorities in charge of the refugee camp, but the marriage is not registered, recorded, or recognized by the Thai government officers at the local Amphur, or District, Office which is generally a requirement of legal marriages occurring within the jursdiction of the Kingdom of Thailand, then that marriage will not be considered legal under Thai law. Will the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service recognize the marriage as valid for reasons pertaining to the I-730 refugee/asylum petition? If USCIS will recognize this type of marriage for immigration puposes, then is there any special kinds of evidence that must be submitted to prove up the bona fide nature of the marriage?

USCIS may consider marriages in circumstances described above as valid for immigration purposes, but there are some caveats. In the past, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service has made the decision that the lack of legal perfection or registration of a marriage might not cause the marriage to become invalid for the purpose of immigration if the reason for the failure to register or perfect stems from the applicants flight from persecution.

If those seeking asylum as refugees in the United States were precluded from executing a valid marital perfection or registration of their religious, tribal, or customary wedding ceremony with the government at the time of the marriage and this preclusion was based upon a situation outside of their control; should this situation be associated with the underlying persecution of this collection of peoplet, then the marriages might be considered valid by USCIS for purposes relating to US immigration. Situations beyond the control of a refugee couple’s control that fit this category include (but may not be limited to): the inability to utilize government institutions in a host country because of one or more policies of the refugee camp, host government regulations that are discriminatory in nature, or any preclusion of marital recognition resulting from the flight from the refugee’s home country.

Much like Fiance Visas, CR1 visas, or other family based visa petitions, it is incumbent upon the couple to prove that the marriage is bona fide. Ways of proving the bona fides of the marriage include: evidence of the couple holding themselves out as married, evidence of the couple having lived together, offspring resulting from the marriage, and execution of a marriage ceremony.

For More Please See:

K1 visa Thailand

(Please not: Nothing in this article should be used in place of legal advice from a competent licensed attorney. No attorney client privilege, either express or implied, is created by reading this post.)

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