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Marriage Registration at Thai Embassies and Consulates Outside Thailand


Transcript of the above video:

This video is going to briefly discuss something called Thai consular marriages. Thai consular marriages are sort of an anomaly when compared with lawful marriages throughout the world.

Basically, Thailand allows people presumably Thais or at least one Thai national marrying another individual of another nationality or two Thai nationals abroad to go ahead and marry and register their marriage at Thai consulates overseas. The consulate may or may not be attached to an embassy but these marriages are allowed. Generally speaking, they are only allowed to be conducted at Thai Consulate Generals and not honorary consulates.

In the United States, there are a significant number of Thai honorary consulates but there are only basically four consulate generals in DC, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. It's possible to register your marriage in one of these. The Thai marriage is recognized by Thai law but the interesting thing about it is it's not recognized by U.S. immigration and I have had this issue come up when dealing with these matters just sort of in the practice of immigration law out here in this region. This comes up from time to time.

You'll have individuals who are a couple who will, thinking that everything is on the up and up and there's nothing illegitimate about this but they'll get married and do the marriage at the consulate wherever they're at. So like, let's say, an American national meets a Thai national in Japan and they go to the Thai consulate in Tokyo and decide to register their marriage as far as Thailand goes there.

The interesting thing about this is that they are not, again U.S. immigration law does not recognize them. Basically, does not recognize them because they are not registered in accordance with the laws of the country in which they're being registered in. So in Thailand, a marriage is registered by a civil registrar in the Kingdom here in the district office, sub-district office and it's a civil registration. That is considered a valid marriage for say U.S. immigration purposes.

But if it's not in the consulate abroad, the thinking goes that consulate is just operating sort of extra-territorially as they are accredited Thai representatives to that country but as far as the country itself, let's say Japan, that marriage may not be considered legal according to Japanese law. And therefore for purposes of American immigration, such marriages are not considered to take over the threshold to get an individual to a marriage visa category such as a CR-1 and IR-1 or a K-3. K-3 is quite a bit rare these days but people talk about marriage visas in connection with the K-3.

The reason I bring this up is because folks who do a consular marriage at a Thai consulate abroad and seek to go ahead get immigration benefits, they could inadvertently be seeking the wrong benefits. It says United States immigration do not recognize the underlying consular marriage. If you want to file for visa marriage benefits, you might not get them. In fact, you might not find out that it's impossible to get them until long after, it can take months to have it adjudicated that you're not in fact legally married for purposes of immigration.

So for this reason, it's a good idea to understand what a consular marriage is. For those who are interested in the immigration ramifications of this, specifically U.S. immigration, and understand what they. Another interesting thing about a Thai consular marriage is in most cases, it could create a problem because then, okay you got a turnaround possibly go ahead and get, let's say you want to get a divorce, well you've got to come to Thailand and register said divorce.

It's an interesting legal conundrum and it can lead to a lot of gray areas and I'm not going to confuse the viewer by going into all the gray areas that can get into especially with respect to things like conflict of laws but it's interesting to note that Thailand has sort of unique consular marriage mechanism and for purposes of U.S. immigration narrowly within the specific context of U.S. immigration, those marriages are not considered legal and they do not consider to meet the threshold of what U.S. immigration requires for the formalities of a marriage and for the registration of said marriage.