US citizenship entitles you to get a marriage visa to marry your Vietnamese spouse and sponsor his/ her application for marriage immigration to America. Applying for a marriage visa and preparing for marriage immigration can be a time consuming task and you will need to be organized particularly with your US documents. To qualify for a spouse visa you must fulfill these basic criteria:
• You must be an American citizen or legal permanent resident aged 18 years or over
• You must be able to prove that you are financially independent and able to support your Vietnamese spouse and any dependent children
• You must be able to prove that you have adequate housing where you, your Vietnamese spouse and any dependents can live
When you get married to your Vietnamese fiancé(e) you can legalize your Vietnamese marriage in the USA.
Getting Ready for Marriage Immigration
Before you leave the US, you need to prepare for your marriage immigration. You should obtain a Single Status Affidavit. This certificate can be prepared by a US notary or the American citizen services at the US Embassy in Vietnam.
You will also need an original or certified copy your Birth Certificate.
If you have been married before you must produce one of the following documents to support the Single Status Affidavit:
- If divorced, you will need your Divorce Decree
- if widowed you will need your Certificate of Marriage and Death Certificate of your previous spouse
Furthermore, you will have to undergo a marriage search in the state you live in, to certify that you have not applied for a Marriage Certificate from age 18 to date.
The last thing to do is to obtain a medical certificate issued by an authorized medical organization or physician. It should state that you have no sexually transmitted diseases (in particular HIV/AIDS), no mental or infectious disease and are fit to marry.
Changing Your US Documents
When official documents issued in the USA are to be used in Vietnam, they need to be “authenticated” and “legalised “in order for them to be valid there.
The first thing you need to do is get your documents “authenticated” by the Vietnamese Embassy in the US . The purpose of the authentication process is to prove the validity of the documents issued in the US. If not previously authenticated by a Vietnamese Consul in the U.S., your documents must be legalized in Vietnam by the Vietnam Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The last thing to do is to get your documents translated into Vietnamese and “legalized” by the US Embassy in Vietnam. After that your documents acquire legal validity in Vietnam.
Documents in Need of Legalization for Marriage in Vietnam
- Single Status Affidavit
- Divorce Decree (if relevant)
- Former spouse’s Death Certificate and previous marriage certificate (if relevant)
- Your Birth Certificate
- Name change certificate (if relevant)
- Your US passport cannot be legalized as it is already an internationally recognized document. You must however have photocopies of the ID and bio page notarized as true copies of the original.
- Medical Certificate
- Marriage Search Certificate
Vietnamese Visa Requirements
As a US citizen you need a visa to visit Vietnam. You can get a tourist visas from the Embassy of Vietnam in the US. It is valid for one month from the day you expect to enter the country. Your visa will be issued within 5 working days. You must make sure that your passport is valid for at least six months with at least two blank pages available. Should you need to extend your stay you can apply for a month’s extension at no extra cost when you are in Vietnam.
Once you have prepared all relevant documents and you have a valid US passport, you may make arrangements to fly to Vietnam to join your intended spouse.
Getting Married in Vietnam
You may decide to marry your Vietnamese spouse in the US, however, getting married in Vietnam is an inspiring experience and relatively straight forward providing you are organized and ensure that you and your Vietnamese spouse have the correct documentation.
Under both US and Vietnamese Marriage Law, only the civil registration of your marriage will be recognized as legal and only a legal marriage will allow you to bring your Vietnamese spouse back to the US.
The legal age to get married in Vietnam is 18; if your Vietnamese spouse is under 18 you will need a statement of parental consent.
To register the marriage legally with the Vietnamese authorities takes a lot of work and you should not underestimate the time or work involved.
The first step in planning your wedding in Vietnam is to go to the Registrar’s office with your Vietnamese fiancé(e) and apply for an Application for Marriage. You should take your passport and all of the documents you brought with you from Canada. Your Vietnamese spouse needs to present a Vietnamese Affidavit of Marriage Status as well as their passport, birth certificate, family book and a certificate for permanent or temporary residence, medical certificate and proof that s/he is no longer married.
The decision on whether the marriage will be allowed lies with the People’s Committee. They have 60 days to make a decision about whether to register the marriage or not by consulting the Judicial and Security Service. Should they come to a positive decision, the Marriage Certificate is signed by the Chairman of the People’s Committee, registered in the Marriage Register and returned to the bride and groom.
Document Check: US Spouse
- Original Single status Affidavit issued in the US or by the US Embassy in Vietnam. It must not be older than three months from the date of issue
- Original valid US passport
- Original Birth certificate
- Original death certificate of deceased spouse if widowed
- Original divorce decree or annulment papers if divorced
- Marriage search
- Medical certificate
Document Check: Vietnamese Spouse
- Affidavit of Marriage Status
- Copy of ID, family book and a certificate for permanent or temporary residence
- Original birth certificate
- Original death certificate of deceased spouse if widowed
- Original divorce decree/annulment papers if divorced
- Medical Certificate
There are no official marriage ceremonies in Vietnam although you can arrange one. Once the People’s Committee have made their decision and entered your marriage in the Marriage Register and you have signed the Register, you are legally married. Marriage to your Vietnamese spouse does not automatically qualify you for Vietnamese nationality; you should also be aware that Vietnam is not a country that recognises dual citizenship.
Permanent Resident Application
It is the responsibility of the American spouse to file an immigration petition as the sponsor of their Vietnamese spouse to come to live in the United States as a legal permanent resident.
The first step in the visa process is for the American spouse to establish that your relationship qualifies for a green card with USCIS. This is done by submitting the application ‘Petition for Alien Relative’ known as Form I-130. This form notifies USCIS that you want to apply for their green card; if they are applying for your dependent children you must fill out a separate I-130 for each child.
If you are a US citizen your application will be given priority over all other sponsorship applications because there is no waiting period for foreign spouses and their children (under 21 years of age) in the US immigration system. Spouses and dependents of lawful Permanent Residents are next in line. The American spouse must provide documentary evidence of their status as a US citizen or permanent resident and of your relationship to you such as a marriage certificate.
Form I-130 should be submitted to the Chicago Lockbox relevant to the state you live in unless submitting it with an application for permanent residence. USCIS then direct the I-130 petition to the appropriate USCIS Service Center . If the I-130 is sent to the wrong Chicago Lockbox, or to another USCIS address, it will be rejected. The fee for filing Form I-130 is $355.
Once your I-130 is received, USCIS send you Form I-797 known as a ‘Notice of Action,’ to acknowledge receipt of your application. You will also receive Form I-864 ‘Affidavit of Support’ which the US spouse must fill out to prove that they can financially support their Vietnamspouse. They must attach supporting documents to this form e.g. a letter on company letterhead detailing their employment status, where they live and photocopies of your Internal Revenue Service-issued transcript of their federal income tax return for the most recent tax year. They should also include their W-2s and/or 1099 forms.
If the US spouse is unable to prove that they can support the foreign spouse and any dependent children the application will be denied.
If the sponsorship application is incomplete or does not contain relevant supporting documents it will be rejected and the sponsorship process will be further delayed. Keep copies of all immigration documentation in a safe place in case the visa petition gets lost or mislaid.
Applying for a Green Card if you reside legally in the USA
If you are legally resident in the USA e.g. if you have a non-immigrant visa permitting you to live and work or study there, you can apply for an ‘Adjustment of Status’ by filing Form I-485 at the same time as your spouse files Form I-130. Form I-485 will adjust your status to that of permanent resident, more commonly known as a green card holder. Both forms should be submitted to a single Chicago Lockbox. The fee for filing Form I-485 is $1,010 (includes the $80 fingerprint fee).
Around a month after your green card application is received, you will both be required to attend a fingerprint interview where ink-free digital scans of your fingerprints will be taken. Your American spouse may also have to attend a visa interview with you.
Whilst your green card is being processed, you will be able to travel, work and / or study freely according to the terms of your non-immigrant visa or you can apply for ‘Employment Authorization’ using Form I-765. There is no fee for filing for Employment Authorization if you submit this form with your application for permanent residence.
Applications are refused if any documentation provided is false.