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I'm just wondering if I am able to marry an American citizen if I'm Canadian, and still reside in Canada, while he will still reside in USA. We are not able to move abroad for probably a few years, at least with small children and work, but he would possibility want to move to Canada down the road.

Can I just go to the United States and marry him anyway, and still live in Canada? Do I have to report this to anyone? Is there anything special I need to do?

I know it's an odd question.

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Can I just go to the United States and marry him anyway, and still live in Canada?

Basically, yes. But, if you tell the border patrol that you are engaged or headed to your wedding when crossing the border to attend your wedding, you may be denied entry, because you no longer qualify for a tourist visa or student visa, and now need a fiancee visa to enter the U.S. This can prevent you from crossing the border for a long time while a financee visa is processed. (I've seen this happen in real life more than once when I lived in Ann Arbor, Michigan which is near the Canadian border.)

Once you are married, it is perfectly legal to live in Canada, although this may lead to tough questions from U.S. or Canadian immigration officials about whether you had a bona fide marriage if you later seek to gain U.S. citizenship, or he seeks to gain Canadian citizenship based upon being married, since not living together is circumstantial evidence that you have a sham marriage.

This said, immigration officials tend to be more suspicious of sham marriages when one spouse from a poor country seeks citizenship in a rich country than they are in U.S.-Canadian marriages in either direction. Immigration officials are more suspicious if you do not have children together and are less suspicious if you have children together.

Do I have to report this to anyone?

You need a marriage license from the state or local government as applicable where the marriage takes place and it must be returned with signatures from the officiant and a couple of witnesses within the time set forth in the license.

If you change your name upon marriage, you need to change it for purposes of all of your identification documents including your passport, usually by submitting your marriage license to the appropriate officials.

If you are asked by a border crossing official if you are married or engaged to be married you are required to answer truthfully, but you do not have to volunteer the information.

If either of you applies for a permanent residence visa or citizenship in the other country the immigration officials of that country must be informed on the application for the visa or citizenship.

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    A fiancee visa is for someone who wants to enter the United States, marry a US citizen, and apply to adjust status to become a permanent resident. Someone who wants to marry in the US and then leave can and should enter as a "visitor for pleasure," either in B-2 status or (if qualified for the visa waiver program) in WT status. A Canadian citizen does not need a visa for this. – phoog Feb 25 at 2:39
  • @phoog: That may be technically true, but a US CBP officer might be skeptical of someone who says "I'm entering US to get married, but I won't be residing in the US with my spouse after that." Even if it's 100% true, it sounds like a cover story to get around US immigration rules. (The same probably goes for trying to get married in Canada, to be honest.) – Michael Seifert Feb 25 at 14:44
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    @phoog I make the observation, because, notwithstanding what the letter of the law says, I've seen this happen in real life more than once. Perhaps it would have gone more smoothly if someone had travelled by plane, but I would be very nervous in this situation. Perhaps one might want to bring a copy of the CBP field inspector's manual with them if doing this as well as evidence of an intent to return like a copy of a loan term lease or a deed to a home. – ohwilleke Feb 26 at 1:39
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    I'd be more inclined to get married in Canada. They've apparently done away with fiancee visas. – phoog Feb 26 at 4:49
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    @phoog The informal organizational pressure on a border patrol/customs agent to let someone enter the U.S. is stronger when you have to fly them back to Canada (and inconvenience an airline) than it is when you have to make someone turn around in their car and drive for twenty feet back to Canada. – ohwilleke Feb 26 at 18:10

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