Join 3,563 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)

Tags:

What if we DON'T want a green card - how do we get hitched?
April 7, 2009 1:58 PM   Subscribe

I'm American, he's Scottish. We live in the UK, and are engaged. He doesn't want a green card and probably never will, but we might want to get married in the States. What do we need to do?

Due to the complex machinations of the UK Home Office, I may or may not have my Certificate of Approval in place in time for my wedding date this summer. If we don't get it, no biggie - we can still have the wedding day then do the official stuff later.

We're honeymooning in the States, and thought it might be fun to do a little-white-chapel quickie wedding in Gatlinburg, TN if the "proper" wedding falls through. Do we have to do anything special to get married in the States?

I know if my fiance' wanted a green card he'd need to come in on a special visa, etc., but we're not planning to ever settle in the States. Can he just come in on a tourist visa, get hitched, get the wedding certificate, then we come back home to the UK? I've searched around this whole thing but all i can find is advice for people looking to settle in the States.

I've checked the Sevier County website and the only clue i have is that "other" is an option for the "groom's birthplace" field on the registration. I've also looked on the US's immigration site but they only seem to have info for people looking to settle. I'm looking for some kind of webpage somewhere that lays out what the rules are, so that I can make sure I do all the right things in advance to make this a viable backup plan. Thanks in advance for your help!
posted by ukdanae to Law & Government (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
ukdanae: "Can he just come in on a tourist visa, get hitched, get the wedding certificate, then we come back home to the UK?"

Yes. People in the UK go to Vegas all the time to get married. It's no big deal; you just have to fulfill the marriage license requirements for Gatlinburg, TN, exactly like anyone who lives in Gatlinburg, TN. Your place of marriage has no bearing on a future green card.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:53 PM on April 7, 2009


Yes. People in the UK go to Vegas all the time to get married. It's no big deal; you just have to fulfill the marriage license requirements for Gatlinburg, TN, exactly like anyone who lives in Gatlinburg, TN. Your place of marriage has no bearing on a future green card.

But, those are people who are both UK citizens. This is a case with a US citizen marrying a non-citizen, which could complicate things. I would suggest calling the Sevier County office to get verification on that.
posted by fructose at 3:04 PM on April 7, 2009


fructose: "But, those are people who are both UK citizens. This is a case with a US citizen marrying a non-citizen, which could complicate things."

Except that it doesn't. I'm sorry; I wish I could make this more complicated, but I really can't.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:07 PM on April 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Getting married on a tourist visa is really No Big Deal for the places that do quickie weddings.

Still, you'll probably want to have proof that your fiancé is headed back to the UK for passport control: a return ticket should suffice, but some other indication of residence might be useful. (Though he could most likely get away with saying he's visiting.)
posted by holgate at 4:34 PM on April 7, 2009


I think there is a fiance(e) visa for people who are entering the country to get married -- I imagine enforcement is lax, especially for a UK citizen marrying an American.
posted by polexa at 4:40 PM on April 7, 2009


polexa: "I think there is a fiance(e) visa for people who are entering the country to get married."

That is not what a fiance(e) visa aka the K1 Visa is for.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:51 PM on April 7, 2009


It's possible, though not likely, that the immigration officer at whatever airport you fly into will decide that your beau has immigrant intent and deny him entry.

You can minimize this by bringing lots of evidence of intent to return to the UK with you -- copy of a lease, letter from an employer stating that he's expected back on such a date, etc.

I don't mean to scare you and it's not something you really need to worry about. But you might make plans that take it into account -- not shell out big bucks ahead of time that you can't cancel out of.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:51 PM on April 7, 2009


British citizens don't need any visa to come to the United States. Maybe if you're not white you might have some trouble at passport control, but you should be able to get away with "tourism," "visiting a friend," etc.

Foreigners can get married in the United States.

And then you go home to Scotland.

Under what circumstances are you anticipating more complication than that? It doesn't say "engaged to an American" on your passport. It certainly might help you to have your return ticket or some other evidence of intent to return to Scotland, like you happen to have on you a document that you're employed. But as long as you just tell them that you're here to see the Grand Canyon or whatever, I don't think they'll be too interested. The two of you will not be together in passport control; he'll be in the foreigners' line and you'll be in the citizens' line.
posted by thebazilist at 8:00 PM on April 7, 2009


Yes, US/UK couples do this all the time. You don't need a special fiance visa or anything else to do it. The only potential problem you might encounter is at immigration. I would not recommend volunteering the info that you are there to get married. Not because its illegal (it isn't) but because of the reasons ROU_Xenophobe mentioned. Immigration won't ask you this specifically anyway, so just say you're on vacation (which you are).

Because I am always extra-cautious, I would bring mortgage papers, proof that you are employed in the UK, basically anything that could back up your claim that you intend to return to the UK should you find yourself in a situation where you need it. Which you won't.

Good luck and congratulations!
posted by triggerfinger at 3:08 AM on April 8, 2009


Also, Metafilter member Mutant did the same thing as you - here is his AskMe thread about it.
posted by triggerfinger at 3:13 AM on April 8, 2009


To answer the next semi-inevitable question, there is similarly nothing you need to do to register your marriage in the UK. You're completely married and your US marriage certificate is entirely valid. Registration of marriage is only for marriages that take place in the UK, so you get to skip that bit.

The place in TN where you get married may need to post your marriage certificate out to you in the UK, however; I have no idea what TN produces for marriages, but sometimes the certificates take time to process, and sometimes you get a temporary (short form) certificate while waiting on your official (long form) one. I think ours showed up in London about a month after we got married. You definitely want them to send it out to you, as you will need to produce it ridiculously often - banks, mortgages, etc.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:18 AM on April 8, 2009


Thanks, everyone, this is really useful! I'll make sure we bring some evidence to prove that we're staying in the UK just in case, but it sounds like this is possibly the least complex part of the whole American-marrying-Scot saga.
posted by ukdanae at 5:25 AM on April 8, 2009


Make sure you understand the normal requirements for a marriage license in Gatlinburg.
For fun, my wife and I decided to renew our vows at 2am in Vegas, but there was paperwork that required something from city hall (and they are only open 24 hours on weekends! god bless america) so we couldn't. I can imagine you might need some bit of paperwork you wouldn't normally carry (say, a birth certificate?). Good luck!
posted by bystander at 5:35 AM on April 8, 2009


I did the same thing too. I'm an American permanently residing in Australia. (Actually, I got my dual citizenship a few years back.) My Aussie husband and I got married in Vegas. We made sure we had all the documents that the Vegas clerk wanted for the marriage license, and that was it. Nobody at immigration cared. It's pretty painless.
posted by web-goddess at 11:42 PM on April 8, 2009


« Older Help me get a bunch of smart f...   |  FrugalFilter: I used to do ___... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.