Spouse Petitions: Marriage Involving Minors

a married couple, immigration lawyer chicagoPeople in Illinois who are filing spousal petitions for their foreign national minors spouses need to understand the guidelines from USCIS for marriages involving minors. The U.S. Customs and Immigration Service directs adjudicators to pay special attention to marriages that involve minors when they are considering spousal petitions. While there is not a minimum age that is defined under the law, other factors may be important when determining whether a petition will be granted or denied.

Spousal Petition Guidelines for Marriages Involving Minors

The USCIS issues guidance to adjudicators who determine whether petitions for visas should be granted or denied. The agency issued new guidance about marriages involving minors on Feb. 15 as an update to the USCIS Adjudicator’s Field Manual. This new guidance discusses age requirements for people who are filing affidavits of support for their spouses and it also offers some added guidelines for marriages that involve minors.

Factors to be Considered

The USCIS will look at whether the age of the minor was too young under the law where the marriage took place. The USCIS will also look at whether the age of the minor and the marriage violates the law in the state in which the couple plans to live. Some states allow marriages to minors if there is parental consent, if the minor is pregnant, if the minor is emancipated, or if there is a judicial order. However, other states do not.

The strengthened guidelines direct adjudicators to pay special attention to marriages involving minors. They are directed to look closely at several factors, including the following:

  • If the marriage was legal and recognized in the place where it occurred
  • If the marriage is legal in the state in which the couple plans to reside or is currently residing
  • If the marriage is bona fide
  • If the minor gave full and free consent to get married without coercion by another

In addition, the person who files the affidavit of support and petition on behalf of the minor spouse must be a minimum of 18 years old.

People who are uncertain about whether their marriages meet the guidelines might want to learn more about the process and try to correct any problems before they file their petitions. This might increase the chances that their petitions will be approved.