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ResourcesFamily LawPrenuptial and Premarital AgreementsThai Wedding Ceremonies in the Context of the K-1 Fiancée Visa

Thai Wedding Ceremonies in the Context of the K-1 Fiancée Visa

Transcript of the above video:

As the title of this video suggests we are going to be discussing the K-1 fiancée visa and specifically the topic of Thai wedding ceremonies.

This comes up a lot because a lot of folks have misconceptions with respect to the legally binding nature or with respect to the notion of marriage in the Kingdom of Thailand. Many folks that I will see will have a full wedding ceremony with their Thai bride here in the Kingdom and will later go on to seek a fiancée visa. These two things may seem incompatible. Why are you able to have a marriage ceremony in Thailand and still seek a fiancée visa? Because as discussed in another video, actually getting married extinguishes one's ability to seek a fiancée visa and in certain cases, depending on the specific circumstances of a given couple, using a fiancée visa may actually move things more quickly than seeking a full on marriage visa.

But back to the question in hand. How can one have a marriage ceremony in Thailand and still be considered unmarried? Well as another video that I made talks about this, in Thailand, there are specific legal formalities which have to be maintained or which have to be adhered to in order for a marriage to become legally binding; in order for a marriage to be recognized. And specifically in Thailand, Thailand uses a civil register system when recording vital statistics of its citizens and inhabitants and this civil registrar system is important because marriage registration is one of the things that is formalized at a Civil Registrar's Office. So notwithstanding all the ceremonies in the world, notwithstanding holding oneself out as being married, in the Kingdom of Thailand, until the marriage is registered at the local District Office, the marriage is not considered legal and this can have tremendous impact on all manner of benefits. It can have all manner of legal ramifications for a given couple but most notably in terms of the K-1 fiancée visa I often get asked, I often get told "we are going to wait to go ahead and get married until she comes to the United States but we don't know how we're going to get the family there." It is okay to have a marriage ceremony in Thailand and still seek a fiancée visa so long as the marriage registration has not occurred in the Kingdom.

So a K-1 fiancée visa can be sought notwithstanding the culmination of a marriage ceremony in Thailand and again this is very different than say the US system whereby you go, you get a marriage license and once you have a ceremony that is it!  That is the solemnization or the celebration if you will, of the marriage creates in a kind of alchemical way, it's sort of creates from thin air, that legally recognized union, now the marriage license is a necessity oftentimes but it does create a legally recognized union. Moreover there is even older law, so called “Common Law” marriage whereby one simply holds oneself out with their partner as being married, it can be construed constructively by the court as a marriage having come into existence. None of that applies to Thailand. Again this is a Civil Law jurisdiction. It utilizes a registration system, a civil registrar system, and once the marriage is registered at the registrar's office, that is when the marriage becomes legal. In a fiancée visa context, a marriage ceremony can occur so long as a registration of marriage doesn't occur and in those circumstances one can have a marriage ceremony and subsequently seek a K-1 fiancée visa notwithstanding the fact that that ceremony occurred.