US Citizens Getting Married Abroad
Generally, marriages that are performed legally and valid abroad are also legally valid in the United States. Should you have inquiries regarding the validity of a marriage abroad, you should direct it to the attorney general of the state in the United States where you live.
Marriages overseas are mostly performed by local, civil or religious officials. It is important to note that American diplomatic and consular officers are not allowed to perform marriages and marriages are not performed on the premises of any American embassy or consulate abroad.
The validity of marriages abroad solely depends on adhering to the laws of the country where the marriage is performed and does not depend on the presence of an American diplomatic or consular officer. However, Consular officers have the right to authenticate foreign marriage documents.
The embassy or tourist information bureau of the country where the marriage is to be held is the best source of information about marriage laws and procedures in that country. You can get some general information on marriage from the Overseas Citizens Services, Washington, DC. You can also get information from the American embassy and consulate abroad about marriage in the country in which they are located.
Marriages abroad are subject to the residency requirements of the country in which the marriage is to be performed. The waiting period is normally a long and winding one to obtain Green Card.
Many countries request for a valid U.S. passport be presented. Apart from this, birth certificates, divorce decrees, and death certificates have to be submitted. In some countries, you should have the documents presented to the marriage registrar first authenticated in the US by a consular official of that country. You can imagine how time consuming and expensive the process can turn out to be.
Though the age of majority for marriage differs from one country to another, as a general rule, persons under the age of 18 are required to present a written statement of consent executed by their parents before a notary public. In some countries, the law requires the parental consent statement be authenticated by a consular official of that foreign country in the US.
You should also get a certification from a competent authority that no impediment exists to the marriage. An affidavit of support eligibility to marry is needed.
Apart from the requirements mentioned above, many countries, like the US, require blood tests. Some countries may ask you to translate the documents presented to the marriage registrar into the native language of that country.
In some countries, getting married to a national of that country will automatically make the spouse a citizen of that country or make them qualify to become naturalized in that country in a quicker process. Such automatic acquisition of another nationality will not affect your American citizenship. But, getting naturalized in a foreign country on one’s own application and eligibility may result in the loss of American citizenship. It is best advised to persons planning to apply for a foreign nationality to contact an American embassy or consulate for any additional information.