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Immigration process after marrying a cousin

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Hello All,

I am going to marry my cousin in the near future in a country where it is allowed to marry your cousin. The state that I live in(IL) doesn't allow marriage between cousins. Do I file with a state that allows this marriage or will it be ok to file in IL as the country I got married in allowed this marriage?

If I file with a different state, how will that work? cause my address will show IL and I would be filing with NY for e.g.

Please advice

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These are questions best answered by an immigration attorney. We don't give legal advice here, and about as close as we do come to that is letting people know where they stand State by State. I also live in IL, and you are correct, first cousins cannot marry here. (Well, there ARE exceptions, but I doubt at this point you meet them.) However, Illinois is not going to meddle in your affairs without some sort of serious cause to do so. It has been quite a while since I perused the Illinois statutes, but just off hand, I don't recall a "marrying elsewhere" restriction. If there is no such restriction, you would be able to marry in the country that allows it, and legally live in Illinois. The biggest hurdle would be convincing immigration officials of that fact. I don't really have time right now to go have a look for you, but you can find the statute here: http://www.cousincouples.com/info/statelaws.htm#IL This is by no means all Illinois has to say on the matter, and the related link seems to be dead. I will try to find time as soon as possible to see if there is a "marrying elsewhere" restriction in the dryness that is Illinois law. In the meantime, feel free to google "Illinois Marriage Statute" and have a look yourself. That is how I do it. You will be looking for "Prohibited Marriages" and the various circumstances of the prohibitions. In those, you will be looking for something along the lines of "regardless of where the marriage was solemnized." Some States have wording such as "unless solemnized in a jurisdiction where it is legal." If Illinois has no wording one way or the other on the matter, it should be allowed 'by default." Again, you would be well advised to discuss this with an immigration attorney.....

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Hi Thanks a lot for the reply.

I read think link http://www.ncsl.org/research/human-services/state-laws-regarding-marriages-between-first-cousi.aspx

and it says " States generally recognize marriages of first cousins married in a state where such marriages are legal."

and this link http://www.abogadolozano.com/myths-immigration-law/

says " Immigration law looks at the location of marriage to determine if it is valid, and generally ignores whether the marriage is recognized in the state where you live. "

I asked an immigration attorney and he said that it won't be valid, so I am confused as I am getting contradicting answers.

I googled the info you suggested and it says

(4) a marriage between cousins of the first degree;


however, a marriage between first cousins is not prohibited if:

            (i) both parties are 50 years of age or older; or

            (ii) either party, at the time of application for


a marriage license, presents for filing with the county clerk of the county in which the marriage is to be solemnized, a certificate signed by a licensed physician stating that the party to the proposed marriage is permanently and irreversibly sterile;

so it doesn't really specify that it is legal or illegal based on where I got married.

Based on the above links, this should be ok right? now it will be very important to prove that our marriage is real and I need to take many pics with her, have my airline tickets, emails etc right?

Initially I was planning on filing a fiancee visa, but I think I need to drop that idea as that would mean I would have to get married in IL and that would be illegal, so it will be rejected right?

Thanks for your help

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As noted, I'm not an attorney, and we don't give legal advice. There was a thread some time back of a member in a very similar situation. Because the State he lived in would not solemnize the upcoming marriage, Immigration wouldn't allow for a fiance visa. Illinois does not consider it criminal incest, but they still will not solemnize the marriage. Ain't going to happen. They have quietly stopped prosecuting incest cases concerning consenting adults closer than first cousins, which ARE considered criminal, but they STILL ain't about to let them marry either, so.....

I did take a look. It seems your attorney may have given accurate information. In the statute, you have the following:

(750 ILCS 5/213) (from Ch. 40, par. 213)

    Sec. 213. Validity.) All marriages contracted within this State, prior to the effective date of this Act, or outside this State, that were valid at the time of the contract or subsequently validated by the laws of the place in which they were contracted or by the domicile of the parties, are valid in this State, except where contrary to the public policy of this State.

(Source: P.A. 80-923.) If it did not have that last little phrase, you would be fine.

It then goes on to state that marriages between same sex couples are against public policy of the State, but that will change June 1st 2014 here. (which it states earlier in the act, along with the cousin prohibition and others)

Then, there is this:

  (750 ILCS 5/216) (from Ch. 40, par. 216)

    Sec. 216. Prohibited Marriages Void if Contracted in Another State.) That if any person residing and intending to continue to reside in this state and who is disabled or prohibited from contracting marriage under the laws of this state, shall go into another state or country and there contract a marriage prohibited and declared void by the laws of this state, such marriage shall be null and void for all purposes in this state with the same effect as though such prohibited marriage had been entered into in this state.

(Source: P.A. 80-923.)

So, it would seem, you cannot marry in the country where it IS legal, come back to Illinois, and have them recognize it. If you care to look at the whole dribble, here it is: http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?DocName=075000050HPt.+II&ActID=2086&ChapterID=59&SeqStart=900000&SeqEnd=3100000 Get a tall class of water, it's DRY.

Do you absolutely HAVE to live in Illinois? This State is in such a state, (no pun intended) that if I were able to move, I would. I'm not exactly in a position to do so, so, I'm stuck. I just heard on the radio yesterday morning that Illinois has yet another #1 rating to NOT be proud of. Illinois ranks #1 in people who, like me, would move if they could. Believe it or not 53% of Illinois residents responded that they WOULD indeed move if given the opportunity. I will assume YOU could possibly be among those numbers now......

I personally really like Georgia. Nattana will recommend Florida, and you won't catch me arguing with her over that choice either.  :wink: Our Admin Colorado Married (obviously) is pretty partial to Colorado, and I can attest to it's beauty and fresh air. If you are able, there ARE other options. If pressed, and I absolutely HAD to, I would move. I have a buddy trying to talk me into it now, but as of yet, the $$$ isn't right, so I can't. If that changes, I'll lock this place down, and away I'll go. If you can, I recommend you beating me out of here.

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I'll agree with Hawk - no desire to live in Illinois.  On the other hand, if I had to for some reason, I wouldn't care for one second what the state's laws say about my marriage and would take my chances in court with the 14th Amendment if pushed.  Most states that do not permit cousins to marry don't have any specific law that would void a cousin marriage when contracted elsewhere (Texas is among these even though it does have a law that technically makes sex between two legally married cousins a felony - I'd love to see someone actually try to prosecute that) or have court cases that make the void clause unenforceable (Kansas is among these).  A small handful are draconian and I wouldn't even want to get into the mess that is their court system over it (looking at Wisconsin and Arizona).

Your immigration attorney may be technically right that Illinois doesn't see your marriage as valid.  If she lives in another country and you get married there, it's not really the same as leaving the state solely to get married because she, the other half of the marriage, is not doing so.  That clause is intended to keep two people who both reside in the state from running off to another state (like Colorado) and getting married and then returning in order to circumvent the state's stricter laws.  It doesn't apply in this case.

As for the void clause Hawk cited - well, it's all up to the attorneys and judges in an actual court room.  All laws are subject to judicial interpretation, including the validity of supposedly clearly defined laws.  In other words, a law doesn't necessarily say anything at all until it's been challenged in court... and even then, it may not say as much on a subsequent challenge.  In my experience, lawyers are like anyone else - some are really smart and some make me wonder how they managed to pass the bar exam (won't say much for the law degree itself - there are degree mills for JDs just like anything else).

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Hi Hawk and ColoradoMarried,

Thanks a lot for the reply.. hmmm so what do I do? I actually work in OK and travel to Chicago on the weekends. Both these states don't allow it, so I am wondering about my next move. I can't really relocate to a new state, find a job there etc. Can I just use a friend's address where this marriage is allowed and use that as my address while filing the paper work?

Our last names are the same, so I guess they would definitely ask this question. I asked a friend who went through this process and he said no one asked him this question and he was fine. Another friend was asked while he was getting married in Texas and he said yes and he couldn't get married there, he flew to Florida and got married there.

It seems like filing from IL or any state where this marriage isn't legal is a risk. I need to make a decision soon and I confused on what to do.

Again, thanks y'all for the help.

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Well, Oklahoma's laws are different from those in Illinois.  While you cannot legally marry IN Oklahoma, you can legally marry in Colorado, New Mexico, or some other state where it would be legal and then live in Oklahoma and your marriage will be legally recognized by Oklahoma (the state makes a specific exception for cousins married in other states).  Since you work there, it may be the best option.

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Thanks a lot!

well, the only way I could get married to her in a state that allows this would be by bringing her on a fiancee visa, but I can't do that from OK or IL. So, will Ok be ok with me marrying her in Saudi and filing for immigration here? do you have any link that states that OK makes an exception?

Thank you soooo much!!

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