Green card with only civil wedding

Arturo writes, "I am legally in the United States and after dating a wonderful woman, we decided to get married in Las Vegas.  The reason we chose a Vegas wedding was that the paperwork required was minimal (appear in an office and with just some paperwork, walk out married, while in my town the couple needs blood work) and it seemed much more exciting to fly there, stay in a luxurious hotel, and after the wedding, eat at a fine restaurant to celebrate.  We also thought that it was our honeymoon and had an awesome time, but because she is a naturalized citizen herself and neither one of us has family in the United States, we never really had a religious ceremony with friends and family.  We have been married for several years now and because my H1 visa is nearing expiration, I want to get the ball rolling on a marriage based green card.  We seem to have everything in order but there really is no record of a traditional wedding.  Would that be a problem during the interview?"



In the eyes of the law, a civil wedding has as much weight as a church wedding.  And when it comes to sham weddings, I am sure that the USCIS agents have seen it all, including couples exchanging vows before God while being fully aware that they were committing fraud.  So it really does not matter that you did not have a religious wedding ceremony as long as your marriage is genuine (in fact, I would not be surprised that people who commit immigration fraud are more likely to have traditional weddings just to make their case appear more genuine).  You should be truthful about your story and present evidence of your relationship like your pictures from Las Vegas or other things that you two have done together.  If you have visited each others families, those photos can also be helpful in showing that you do have a real marriage.  In addition, you will need documents like joint bank accounts, mortgages/leases, etc. to prove that you are like any other married couple.  And like any other couple who is interviewed for a marriage based permanent resident status, be prepared to be grilled together and separately.  If you ace those interviews and have your evidence lined up, it does not matter if you exchanged your vows in front of a Nevada bureaucrat or a priest.