If I came to the US as a single student on an F1 visa, then during college vacation got married abroad (but did not register it in any country) is it okay to declare my marital status as single? I'm concerned they'll deny me entry if I attempt to enter the country since I don't have the intent to leave the US.


My spouse is a Green Card holder also living in the US. We just want to get married in Asia (we are both of Asian origin).

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    How is it that you're married if it's not registered?
    – Karlson
    Commented Jan 16, 2015 at 19:11
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    @Sridhar-Sarnobat: Why would having a spouse abroad mean you don't intend to leave the US? Marriage creaking already? Commented Jan 16, 2015 at 19:22
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    @Srindhar - please edit the question to include the details that you added in comments - it's much easier to understand if all the details are in one place. Commented Jan 16, 2015 at 21:15
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    This State Department page, section "Validity of Marriages Abroad", makes it sound like the state in which you reside could be relevant.
    – Dan Getz
    Commented Jan 17, 2015 at 15:25
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    Well the one in question is in California. Since some states presumably recognize the marriage while others don't, I simply erred on the side of caution that California is one of the states that does recognize it. So it was sufficient for my needs. Commented Feb 27, 2015 at 1:23

3 Answers 3


I have been through this same situation, except that I was on H1 visa. My spouse was a GC holder and we got married in India. All I had was a certificate issued by the religious institution where our marriage ceremony was held. To register and get the Marriage Certificate from State, we had to wait there for 90 days and physically present to receive the certificate, which was not possible for us as I only had three weeks of leave.

I re-entered US in the same H1-B visa and had no issues. I waited till my spouse became a US citizen and the applied for my GC, which got approved in 4 months.

I had the certificate i got from the religious institution notarized by a notary in India and following are the things I used to prove that we are married while applying for my GC

  • Latest tax filing report - filed as "Married Filing Jointly"
  • Kid's Birth Certificate with both our names
  • Mortgage on both our names
  • Finally, the notarized marriage certificate

You will be re-entering the US in your existing F1 visa and if you are talking about declaring your status during the tax filing process, or the W2 you are referring to - declaring yourself as "Single", will not be an issue - but prefer declaring yourself as "Married Filing Jointly" or "Married Filing Separately" - as it might help you when you apply for the GC.

That being said - was entirely my story - please be advised at the same time that

Marriages must be registered under the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 if the persons concerned were married under Hindu, Buddhist, Jains or Sikh rites. The Registrar of Marriages will issue a certificate which the consulate will accept as primary evidence of marriage.

As per USEmbassy.gov

Religious Ceremonies

In India, a religious marriage ceremony is generally considered a legal marriage. However, for marriages registered under the Hindu Marriage Act (affecting Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and Buddhists), the certificate issued by the temple or gurudwara may not be legally sufficient for all purposes. Individuals married under the Hindu Marriage Act may seek a formal marriage certificate from the Registrar of Marriages. If one of the parties is not Indian, the registrar may request a “no objection letter” (see above) and proof of termination of any prior marriages.

If the parties are married in a Christian, Muslim, Parsi, Jewish, Baha’i or other religious ceremony, the certificate issued by the religious authority (e.g., the church’s marriage certificate, the mosque’s nikah nama, etc.) generally is sufficient proof of marriage, and no certificate from the marriage registrar is necessary.

Civil Ceremonies

Parties who do not wish to marry in a religious ceremony can instead opt for a civil ceremony pursuant to the Special Marriage Act. Also, individuals of different religions should register the marriage under the Special Marriage Act, even if a religious ceremony has also been performed. This may also require a “no objection letter” (see above), as well as proof of termination of any previous marriages. You can download a blank “No Objection” letter here (PDF).

The parties generally are required to wait at least 30 days from the date of the initial application to formalize the marriage so that the marriage officer can publish a newspaper ad allowing for the opportunity for any objections to the marriage to be voiced.

The marriage registrar’s office generally is located in a local community’s court complex or municipal building.

So, if your marriage was held in a temple, according to Hindu marriage Act of 1955, it might not be valid in US and you will need a Marriage Certificate from the Registrar of Marriage.

But, no one is going to deport you from the US, just because you got married in another country.

PS : The legal information is provided “as is” without any representations or warranties, express or implied. I make no representations or warranties in relation to the legal information on what said above.


If I came to the US as a single student on an F1 visa, then during college vacation got married abroad (but did not register it in any country) is it okay to declare my marital status as single?

If your marriage was never registered (ie, there is no record of it), then you are legally not married. (See s.brody's answer on why this is important).

Secondly, if your union is not recognized - you may have get married again in the US in order if you intend to stay with your spouse beyond the remit of your F1 visa.

My spouse is a Green Card holder also living in the US. We just want to get married in Asia (we are both of Asian origin).

If you want to get married outside of the US, and use that union to enter and stay with your spouse, then the first condition is that your marriage should be registered and these documents (marriage certificate, notarized, etc.) are the first step in getting your permit to enter the US for the reason of staying with your spouse permanently.

Regarding your concern about re-entry to the US. As long as your F1 is current, and you are admitted for studies - then you can re-enter the US.

Once inside, it will be up to you and your spouse to decide what course of action to take, but keep in mind that you will need some documentation of your change in marital status in order to move things forward.

For more information on the requirements, you can refer to the instructions for filing I-130 (PDF), where you will see the following conditions:

  1. You and your spouse have to be physically present at the ceremony.
  2. The marriage has to be consummated.
  3. As proof of your relationship, you have to present a marriage certificate.

Starting with a quote from Department of State website:

"Marriages performed overseas are considered valid in the country where they take place if they are entered into in accordance with local law".

Supposing you do want to get married legally in an Asian country, please do make sure you meet the requirements of marriage laws in that respective country.

Once the civil marriage takes place, and all papers are signed, the next step would be looking into getting it recognized in the United States. This is a case of a US Lawful Permanent Resident/ GC holder (that would be your SO), whose spouse (that would be you, on an F1 visa) is inside the USA through lawful admission. From this point on, my advice is to declare as married when required. I'm guessing you eventually want to become a GC holder, too, since you mention the intention of staying in the US. We're talking about Adjustment of Status, essentially. USCIS instructions are (quote):

"File Form I-130. After a visa number becomes available, apply to adjust status to permanent residency using Form I-485."

Make sure to maintain an original or certified copy of your foreign marriage document, along with a notarized translation. This will be required for tax purposes, or a change in your immigration status.

** Regarding tax filling, take a look here: IRS - U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad - Nonresident Alien Spouse ** USCIS InstructionsBringing Spouses to Live in the United States as Permanent Residents

  • Could you please add links as references to the quotes?
    – JoErNanO
    Commented Mar 29, 2015 at 9:23

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