Married to a U.S. Marine, but not Recognized by the U.S. State Department

Current immigration policy affects a great number of foreign nationals who wish to come to the United States for a wide variety of reasons. But as some recent journalism has shown, access to the country is sometimes restricted in strange, unyielding ways.

A recent editorial from the New York Times advocates an end to “ideological exclusions [of foreign nationals] and [a review of] dubious visa denials.” According to the Times, Congress repealed Cold-War-era restrictions on leftist academics nearly 20 years ago, but the recent Bush Administration used the blanket rationale of “national security” to exclude a number of foreign nationals who criticized U.S. foreign policy. The Obama Administration has yet to tackle meaningful immigration reforms, so it is not yet clear whether or not Obama will echo Bush on this matter.

A recent story of trans-continental love from an online outlet highlights a different kind of restriction. A Japanese woman and a U.S. Marine met while he was stationed in Japan, and they dated for over a year. She found out that she was pregnant shortly after he deployed to Iraq, and they carried out a telephonic marriage, also known as a proxy wedding. Tragically, he was killed in Iraq before they got to see each other again.

Despite the fact that they conceived a child together, the U.S. State Department–under a 1950s law designed to prevent marriage fraud–does not recognize this “unconsummated” marriage because the couple did not meet again in person after the proxy wedding. Pursuant to Japanese law, the couple simply signed legal affidavits and registered their marriage in Japan. The Japanese government and the U.S. military recognize the marriage, and the military is paying survivor benefits to the woman and her son. Proxy marriages are legal in at least four U.S. states, the online outlet reports.

Now, the Japanese woman wants to bring her son to live with his grandparents and grow up in his father’s hometown in Tennessee. But she is trapped in a kind of “immigration limbo,” all due to strict enforcement of another Cold-War-era immigration law.

If you wish to sponsor a loved one or family member for U.S. residence, please contact our office for more guidance.

Leave a Reply