A lot of countries and cultures practice arranged marriages — but it isn’t a very common occurrence in the United States. If you’re hoping to obtain entrance to the U.S. and a green card based on your marriage, you may be concerned that your arranged marriage in a foreign land won’t “pass muster” with the officials at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
You can relax — at least, a little bit. The U.S. government recognizes that there are distinct differences between an arranged marriage and a forced marriage. As long as you weren’t coerced, intimidated or otherwise pressured into your marriage against your will, your marriage can be considered valid.
You may encounter another issue, however. In many countries that practice arranged marriages, religious and traditional marriage ceremonies are conducted without involving any civil authorities. If your foreign marriage wasn’t registered with the civil authorities in your homeland, you may have to go through some extra steps to establish the validity of your marriage for immigration officials.
If you anticipate any problems (or are simply concerned about the possibility), it’s wise to consult with an immigration attorney as soon as you can. The U.S. does have marriage reciprocity with many countries, which means that your arranged marriage can still be recognized under specific conditions — even without sanction from the civil authorities. If your marriage was legal in your homeland, it may be legal here.
An attorney is in the best position to review the reciprocity laws and the specifics of your marriage and help you understand what obstacles you may face on your path to immigration, as well as what you can do to overcome those hurdles.