Sunday, May 29, 2011

Getting married in the US (Florida)

The first thing that I should point out about getting married in the US is that each state has its own laws and costs.  Even within a state, there can also be minor differences between the different counties, so it is always best to check and double check the relevant info and regulations in advance.  My specific personal experience was getting married in Florida, so bear in mind that although there are bound to be lots of similarities with other states, there will also some differences too.  Given my very positive experience, I would certainly recommend getting married in Florida.  My wife and I were married in north central Florida in the city of Gainesville, a college town which is home to the University of Florida.


Background to getting married in the US

Getting married to a US citizen and obtaining a marriage license was a requirement of my K1 Fiance Visa, but my wife and I never lost sight of the fact that were mainly getting married because we loved each other and wanted to live together as man and wife.  The K1 Fiance Visa was purely a tool for achieving that.  Given the logistical problems that would be involved with getting all our respective families together, my family from across the Atlantic in the UK and my wife’s family from the north east of the US, we opted to have just a small intimate ceremony, rather than a big wedding.  Because neither of us are particularly religious, we also decided that we would go for a civil ceremony, rather than getting married in a church.


Arranging the ceremony, getting the license and getting married in Florida

I am a UK citizen, so I can only really make comparisons with getting married in England, where I am from.  Compared to the UK, getting married in the US seems cheap when it comes to paying for a civil ceremony.  Getting married is also much quicker, although there is a three day waiting period in Florida (unless you either do a short pre-marital course, or you live outside Florida, in which case the three day waiting period is waived).  As my wife and I didn’t want to do the premarital course and we both live together in Florida, we were liable for the waiting period, and so decided to apply for our marriage license at the start of the week and arrange with the court for getting married in Florida on the Friday.  The fee was $93.50, which at around £65 seemed relatively cheap to me.  We had to go together to get the marriage license and I had to use my passport as I.D.  The marriage license they gave us was valid for 30 days, but as I mentioned we arranged for our wedding to take place just four days later.  It was all very straightforward, partly because neither of us had been married before, so we didn’t have to prove that we were divorced or widowed.


The marriage ceremony and afterwards

As I mentioned earlier, we kept the number of people at the marriage ceremony small, just inviting a couple of friends, plus my wife’s daughter.  If you are getting married in the US, be aware that because of the gun culture there and the threat of terrorism, there is much stricter security at public buildings such as court houses – I was somewhat surprised when all of us were searched for weapons when entering the courthouse on our wedding day, albeit in a friendly way.  All in all, however, I thoroughly enjoyed my wedding experience and would heartily recommend getting married in Florida.

Getting married meant that we had fulfilled the requirements of the K1 Fiance Visa by getting married in the US within 90 days.  This meant that I was now able to put in an adjustment of status application for a US green card.

29 comments:

  1. I think getting married in the US is easier than it is in the UK! :)

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  2. I'm glad you made it over here and you guys are finally together! :-)

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  3. Paul, thank you so much for this blog. My fiance is going for an interview at the embassy in my home country in a week. The info you give here is very helpful.

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  4. Congratulations guys! This is really nice for you to atleast share a very informative situation, it'll help alot of people and give them idea of how it really works.
    really cool!

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    1. Thanks, we celebrated our 1st anniversary recently!

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  5. Thank you so much for writing this blog, truly so grateful. I'm currently going through the K1 process and no matter how supportive family and friends are it feels like a very lonely and scary experience. So much help hearing from someone who has gone through it. Has made me realise I'm not alone in this there are so many others out there going through it. I am in UK and want to go back to see my fiancee whilst waiting for all this to be finalised. Do I need a specific visa to enter US while K1 in process?

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    1. If you are British, from what I gather from reading the forums at britishexpats.com (and I'm not an immigration expert) you can still enter the US as a visitor under the visa waiver scheme whilst your k1 is being processed, like you would normally do as a holidaymaker or a visitor from the UK, but they may identify you as a potential overstayer, so be prepared for questions and delays!

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    2. After getting married in USA on K1 is it best not to honeymoon abroad ? As it is difficult to re-enter USA ?

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    3. If you leave the US before you get a green card or travel permit, then you may well have problems getting back into the country, I believe.

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  6. If your fiance is NOT in the USA, you can obtain a Fiance Visa which allows your future spouse to enter the country for 90 days and have a marriage in the USA. You can then start the marriage visa process and file an Adjustment of status (Form I-485).Get yourK1 Visa quickly. Automated Visa Preparation System without the high legal fees. Approved by Immigration Lawyers.

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  7. congrats all your info has been helpfull I have a question I.m about to file the petition but my fiance has concerns about having a few debts on credit cards and wondoring if this could be an issu

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    1. I'm not a visa expert, but I am not aware of that being an issue. If you apply for a green card, however, the US partner is expected to provide proof that they can financially support their spouse, that's how it was for me, anyway.

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  8. Thank you for all the info! I wish I could find a service like this in Florida. I have been looking for a spousal visa for my brother. His wife is in Canada and he just moved here for a job. Any tips or suggestions?

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  9. My boyfriend and I want to have just a small las vegas wedding, quick and cheap! Do you think the U.S immigration would look down on this?

    Loving the blog! I'm coming from the UK as well so this is very helpful, about to start the K1 process, it all seems so daunting!

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  10. Hi!
    First of all, thank you for your blog! I like it!
    My americain boyfriend recetly proposed to me (so now he is my fiancé!). We are about to start the process for me to get a K1 visa. However, I know I can't ask for an autorisation to work before we get married. But I don't want my fiancé to pay for everything for months. So I was wondering if it is possible for me to go to the US as soon as I get my K1 Visa, get married in front of a judge, and then do the religious "official" ceremony with all our families and friends a few months later? So I would have time to get en autorisation to work and find a work and save money for the "official" wedding?
    Thank you in advance for your answer!
    Clama

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  11. . I marry to a US citizen 6 years ago and refuse to get a visa. My paper is still in processing but i want to apply for a holiday visa, will anyone know if i will get a visa

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  12. I had the question of what number you put in place of the SSN on the marriage license when you got married, unless they didn't ask for that in Florida.

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  13. I am a US citizen and my fiance is from England. We have filed for the K1 visa just this week. We are already trying to plan ahead for the wedding with his family from the UK wanting to come over for it. What do you recommend as far as trying to plan for it? We want a small ceremony on the beach in florida with no more than 5 of his family members and 10 of mine. They are already asking us when they should book off work and when to get plane tickets, i am very stressed because I feel like I cant give them an answer. At what point in the process do you think we can start officially planning and booking in your opinion. Thanks for the help.

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