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I am an American citizen with Australian residency. My Australian fiance and I are having our wedding in the US in June, before returning to Australia where we will continue to live.

My Australian fiance is not immigrating to the US and therefore doesn't need a green card.

Does he need a K-1 Fiance visa since he is not planning to stay in the US? Can we legally get married without one? Should we just have a legal ceremony in Australia and a mock wedding in the US to save the paperwork / cost / chance of missing K-1 deadlines?

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You can marry legally in the US regardless of your immigration status. The K-1 visa is for those who intend to settle in the US. Since your fiance will not be adjusting immigration status, and will be leaving the country before the expiration of the allowed period of stay, you will have no problems.

Your fiance does not need a K-1 visa.

There's not much to support this on US government sites, other than the fact that discussions of K-1 visas invariably include discussions of how to go about adjusting status to permanent resident after the wedding. However, you can find immigration law sites that support this, such as http://www.visapro.com/green-card-family/getting-married-on-a-tourist-visa.asp

Articles such as this invariably discuss the risks for people who are intending to immigrate to the US after getting married, but since this is not your intention, these risks do not apply to you.

Furthermore, late in 2013, the US actually relaxed its policy to allow VWP nationals to enter the US on the VWP, marry a US citizen, and then apply for adjustment of status to that of a permanent resident. See http://immigrationview.foxrothschild.com/general-immigration-news-and-updates/visa-waiver-policy-change-makes-planning-life-in-the-us-much-easier/ for more information. Since your fiance would be allowed to enter on the VWP even if you intended to immigrate, he will certainly be allowed to enter given that your real intention is to return to Australia.

Given the relatively recent vintage of this policy change, it's likely that the information you've found on the internet that indicates otherwise is out of date.

As for the validity of the marriage, there should be no question, as even illegal immigrants can marry in the US. See, for example, http://www.alllaw.com/articles/nolo/us-immigration/can-undocumented-illegal-immigrant-marry-citizen.html. In articles like this, the validity of the marriage is never in question. The issue at hand is whether the non-citizen spouse can regularize his or her immigration status after the marriage.

  • Hi Phoog, thanks so much for your help. Can I ask how you know this for sure? Is there any sort of link that explains this? Everywhere I look refers me to K-1 but I really hope you're right. – Chelsea Jan 14 '16 at 4:34
  • @Chelsea sure, I can add some links. Are you concerned about the validity of the marriage or are you worried about falling afoul of the immigration authorities? – phoog Jan 14 '16 at 6:06
  • @Chelsea If this edit doesn't do it, please post a comment with some of the links to which you are referring, and I will address them. – phoog Jan 14 '16 at 18:51
  • thanks again! I'm more concerned with getting to the US, telling customs we're there to get married and them worrying my fiance will overstay his visa and therefore not letting him in the country. We will someday apply for a green card, so I don't want to do anything to jeopardize this. – Chelsea Jan 14 '16 at 23:02
  • @Chelsea Because he's eligible for the VWP and will eligible to change his status after you get married, there really ought to be no concerns. If it will let you worry less, bring copies of your travel reservations, etc., showing your return to Australia. – phoog Jan 14 '16 at 23:27

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