Marrying a Vietnamese woman

Hello,

I am a 58 year old teacher and plan on moving to Vietnam at the end of December and I am looking for advice on the marrying process. I will be moving to the hanoi area, getting a teaching job for a few years. I have a pension from teaching which I am not collect yet and I can get social security at 62 years. So, I don't have too long before retirement. Some facts of my situation are:

Wife to be is a Vietnamese woman with two children ages 14 and 18.
1. I have read if we marry before the children turn 21 the children become US citizens? Is this true. Sounds right and the benefits to the kid would be great.
2. Getting married in Vietnam - I heard it takes 2 years and requires all sorts of documentation, photos, correspondence, etc. of a long term relationship. This, in order to prevent a quick wedding to get out of the country. I could see this a being true but can any one very the 2 year rule.
3. Get married in Thailand or the US. Less red tape and quicker?
4. If i do get married, either in Vietnam, Thailand, or US and continue to live in Vietnam do I NOT have to keep renewing my visa every 3 to 6 months or what ever my work permit says? This would make sense as I believe I would be a dual-citizen? No more visas?
5. I have a feeling I might live in Vietnam a couple of years and want to take my wife and her children back to the US. Any suggestions on the best route to do that would be appreciated.

Thanks and look forward to hearing from you!

Can't answer all of your questions but for the first one:  It's neither true nor does it "sound right". 

In your particular case, only your immediate relatives can apply for citizenship after fulfilling residency requirements.  Your immediate relatives are your wife and YOUR under-21-and-unmarried children.  As your wife doesn't automatically become a US citizen just because she's married to you, HER children cannot become citizens until after she becomes a citizen herself AND they fulfill both age and residency requirements.

They still can become US citizens by other methods, just not from being your stepchildren.

Oh, thank you for the feedback. This is becoming more challenging. I will have to see if there are services that help people navigate thru this. Something like an attorney.

Thanks again

My wife who is Vietnamese and I (a U.S. Citizen) got married in Vietnam a year ago. It is a process, but not difficult and the most important aspect is to avoid short cuts, which will always come back to haunt you. We are guests in this country and need to observe their rules and regulations. If you are not legally married here, you cannot live together. You will also need to continue getting short team visas. Once you are married you can go to the appropriate office in Hanoi and apply for and get a 5 year visa which if I remember correctly only cost me $10 USD

Go to www. www.vietnam-immigration.org.vn where you will find and can download a list of the required documents. You will have to complete the Application for Marriage Registration in Vietnam (#1) (she will eventually have to complete the same document in Hanoi) and provide an Affidavit of Single Status (#2).

The Certificate of No-Marriage Records (#3) is somewhat more challenging. In Vietnam and other Asian countries each induvial has a small book which details their family history, parents, births, marriages and divorces. This is how they prove that one is single. It is difficult to explain to them here that in the U.S. we do not have a similar record. I explained that in my document submission and simply provided my own affidavit which they accepted.

Explaining to your doctor that you are in good mental health while at the same time confessing that you are getting married in Vietnam may disqualify you, but my doctor was understanding and signed the document (#4).

The Bio (#6) is self-explanatory as are the exhibits and POA (#7).

Pay particular attention to the note about certification.  Vietnam loves official red seals. Each of these documents needs to be certified by a notary public and THEN (this is critical) the notarization must be certified by the Secretary of State where the notary is licensed and the documents were notarized (this is called having the document apostilled).

Once you have completed the foregoing all of the documents must be sent to the Vietnamese Embassy in Washington DC, with the appropriate fee for legalization. If you have done your homework, they should be returned to you by FedEx within a few weeks all embossed with shiny red seals.

At this point you need to take all of the legalized documents to the appropriate office in Hanoi and submit them with your wife’s application (I cannot recall if I sent this in as part of my packages to D.C.); again with the appropriate fee. In our case, we received a call within two months that everything had been approved and giving us a time and date that we could come to the government office for the civil wedding ceremony.

The process did not take two years (about six months) and was well worth the effort knowing that we had complied with all of the necessary regulations. Peace of mind overseas cannot be overstated.

With respect to the children, that is the next part of my adventure. Ours are 12 and 15 and from my initial analysis, I need to go through the official process of adopting them. Next week we are going to meet with the official who assisted in our marriage and find out how to properly do this. Both Vietman and the US are signatoies to the Hague Adoption Convention, so there must be a set rpocedure for this. Once I understand that, then I am going to visit the U.S. Embassy to get the real story on their status as U.S. citizens. One overriding question is if my wife and children become U.S. citizens can they maintain their Vietnamese citizenship (i.e. dual citizenship) which will be necessary to continue to own property here. But one step at a time.

I hope this helps.

Thank you!  Red Seal!

I am glad to here that I do not need to wait 2 years, rather the marriage process can take 6 months. Does this mean that when I move to Vietnam (December) I can begin the paper work which is what you are saying takes 6 months?  No need to be in a "documentable" relationship with her for 2 years. It sounds like this is what you are saying, which is a relief, whew!

I appreciate your advice! One step at a time. Then I will follow your foot steps regarding adoption. I am somewhat of a type "A" personality so I need to chill permanently for my entry into this process!

I would suggest starting the paperwork before you come to Vietnam since the process of getting everything properly notorized will be much easier and controllable while you are in the U.S. That way, when you arrive here you can bring all of the documenst with you which have been legalized by the Vietnamese Embassy in Washinton D.C.

I do not recall having been asked or having to document the length of our relationship.

Let me just say that everyone was extremely helpful in undertaking this process. I attribute that to my wife meeting with the appropriate officlas and asking their guidance on how to do all of this properly. I would suggest that your fiance do the same in Hanoi.

Hi Guy`s !

I agree you should get all your paperwork together before you move to Vietnam. I am a British citizen, and I married a Vietnamese lady last august. I got all my paperwork together before I went back to VN. I also sent documents to the VN embassy in London to be legalised. Its quite a process but if you do everything by the book, you should be fine. Once in VN you need to go to an officially registered translator, and have all your documents translated. Then you submit all your documents and her documents into the local government offices in her hometown. The only problem we encountered was when we submitted our docs, they confirmed everything was in order, however we were told to return in 4 weeks to collect our marriage certificate and we both had to be present to sign. But I was leaving 2 weeks later and could not be there in the 4 they were saying was required. But a 2 million Vnd bribe and we had our marriage certificate within 2 weeks :-)

Best wishes !

Btw.

The whole process for me, from beginning to collate my docs in the UK to actually receiving the marriage certificate took less than 3 months.

Regards

Mike

Great advice. I will do. Thanks.

Thanks for the info!

1. Answered by Ciambella

2. American here, took us less than a month. We registered for license with a group of others. I was nervous about it taking too long for visa reasons, so hired a lawyer for $1500, he helped mostly by guiding us. The paperwork wasn't bad, just had to get divorce records from the US. A little translation here, some stamps there...  On the day we went back to the registry to get our license, all of those same people we saw again, they did it without lawyering up.
Check the US embassy website, I went there for the Certificate-I-am-not-Married paper, it is already translated. And they notarized my divorce papers.

3. There have been reports on the forum of less paperwork needed in Thailand for a western-to-Vietnamese wedding.

4. No you will not be a dual-citizen. You will not get a work permit. You can get a Visa Exemption Certificate pasted in your passport, so you won't need visas. You can get a Temporary Residence Card which is useful for some things like registering a motorbike in your name. Work permits come from employers, you won't need a work visa with a VEC.

5. I think you have to apply and wait like everyone else.

Thank you for the helpful info. Very nice!

re. #5. There are advantages and disadvantages to waiting two years to apply for your new family to emigrate to the US.  This is what I did but without the children involved.  The primary advantage is that you should have no problem proving the bona fides of the marriage if you are all living under the same roof.  If you marry and move back to the US to petition for them, they will be subject to a very intrusive questioning process.  Even in our case they asked my wife the names of my adult children even though it was a set of facts that was no place on the application and I think entirely designed to trip her up. 

Another advantage is that if you are married two years, when she moves to the US, your wife will have a "permanent" green card and not have to shift from temporary status after two more years.   That "change of status" involves intrusive interviewing with even home visits.   This is because people with phony marriages often live apart.  Not sure about the kids on this, but I expect they get a permanent card too. 

The big obstacle is called the I-864 Affidavit of Support.  You will be expected to show income above 125% of the poverty line.  For your family of four that will be $31,275 subject to inflation in future years.  Now, you can't count your ESL teaching income because it is in Vietnam and you can't just say "I think I will be going back to my old job."   Perhaps your pension will be enough, but you indicated that you may hold off in order to maximize it.   I think you can get a letter of guaranteed employment but it is tricky.  Fortunately, you can count assets in addition or instead.  Then the magic number will be $93,825 or three times the other number.  If you own a house free and clear, then good.  Another way is to have a sibling or adult child be an alternate sponsor which is a relatively heavy obligation.  We had my son's documents in an envelope in case we needed them, but we did not.  The whole process is set up on the expectation that the sponsor is in the US and the immigrants are overseas. 

If your wife and step children intend to retain their Vietnamese citizenship and have dual citizenship, they want to do, or not do,  a few things.  Have them keep themselves in whoever's household book (Hộ khẩu) they are in.  If they are all in her parents' book, then good.  This is what tells the Vietnamese government that you are still a citizen.  Dual citizenship is a little bit of a grey area in both US and VN, but have them stay in the book.
 
Another thing is no name changes.  Have your wife keep her name as is customary in Vietnam anyway.  US national authorities will have no problem with that.  I don't think any states any longer require a change.  When they become US citizens they get a no-cost legal name change but don't have them take it.  You don't have to change and it is better back in VN if you do not.   You can reverse the name order in filling out forms, but don't change the names.

You indicated that you were going to delay moving, but if the oldest child is 18 now you are nearly too late as he/she will be 20 when you apply.  If he is over 21, he will have to be petitioned separately and your wife will need to be the sponsor.  She can apply once she is a legal resident but the priority group is very low.  Start the application process about 12 moths after you marry as it may take another 12 months to work its way out.  Timing on the older child will be critical.  Don't hold me on this, but I think once the application is in, the age clock on the child stops.  If you wait a few years before moving to Vietnam and getting married, then I think you will need to forget about having the older child immigrate, at least for several more years.  I expect this could end up being a real problem for your wife. 

Here is a base page and you can branch out from here:  https://my.uscis.gov/exploremyoptions/p … for_spouse

Your feedback is very helpful.  Thank you for your tips on keeping their dual citizenship.  Regarding, the older child not qualifying for US citizenship because she will be 21, I felt this coming and need to re-evaluate many things. Thanks.

Excellent advice, THIGV.

gobot :

4. You can get a Visa Exemption Certificate pasted in your passport, so you won't need visas.

I've never understand why it's called Visa Exemption Cert because it is a visa that allows the person to stay no more than 6 months at a time, multiple times, for a period of 5 years.  Where is the exemption part?

schleger :

Regarding, the older child not qualifying for US citizenship because she will be 21, I felt this coming and need to re-evaluate many things.

It is immigration that she may not qualify for.  Citizenship occurs only after immigration.  If my wife could have become a US citizen while remaining in Vietnam, we would still be there.  You have to be a resident before you can become a citizen.  Since you are still in the US, may I suggest that you sit down with an attorney who specializes in immigration and detail the timeline about the girl.  Don't take our word here for it; ask Honest Abe.  "He who represents himself has a fool for a client" - Abraham Lincoln.

Nicely said! I will seek the advice of an attorney.

Many Vietnamese families today wish to emigrate to the US not for the adults but for their children's education.  We have neighbors like that.  The son is in High School and lives with his mother while dad stays back in HCMC to run his lucrative business manufacturing hardwood furniture.  They are wealthy enough to pay rent in the US and spend each summer in Vietnam.

You are already on the late side of that curve.  A high school education in Vietnam may not be a good foundation for college in the US except maybe in Math or sciences.  Another possibility is that the girl falls in love and does not want to leave.   :kiss:   Children seldom do what parents want them to do anyway.

You can live together in Vietnam without being married , it's not illegal

FredKaspers :

You can live together in Vietnam without being married , it's not illegal

Of course you can, but the OP wants his prospective family to emigrate to the US.  They can't do that unless he is legally married to the mother.  EU rules may differ.

FredKaspers :

You can live together in Vietnam without being married , it's not illegal

Always trust the advice of someone who has only posted once...  :lol:

thats good, i have been living with my girl over a year now. Would this help when applying to get married ?

groovasious :

thats good, i have been living with my girl over a year now. Would this help when applying to get married ?

They dont ask you if you live together, so it has no bearing on getting the license.

groovasious :

thats good, i have been living with my girl over a year now. Would this help when applying to get married ?

As most locations have apparently dispensed with the pre-marital  interview, I don't think how long you have known each other, let alone lived together, is even relevant any longer.

Correction to your statement - If you are NOT married, you CAN still live together.

Dr. G :

Correction to your statement - If you are NOT married, you CAN still live together.

Who are you addressing this to?  Has anyone said any different?

You fail to mention how you know this VN woman.  Your information is not accurate and only hearsay. Simply call the VN Embassy or US Embassy and ask where to get such information. Why would you want to take on the financial burden of 2 soon to be university students when you want to retire. Trust me, if you marry this woman you are in for a ride of manipulation and financial loss.

come to Vietnam and meet women, then decide on their character, financial situation, employment, life history, family, etc.. Don't be in a hurry - you will regret it the rest of your life.

Yes, most certainly; if you have been attentive to everyone comments then you will know what and who I am referring to.

FredKaspers :

You can live together in Vietnam without being married , it's not illegal

Dr. G :

Correction to your statement - If you are NOT married, you CAN still live together.

Are these two substantively different?

Dr. G :

Yes, most certainly; if you have been attentive to everyone comments then you will know what and who I am referring to.

I can't find any comments that are even similar.  Apparently you think your structure is somehow superior.

In fact both are irrelevant to the OP question.

Ungarb :

The Certificate of No-Marriage Records (#3) is somewhat more challenging. In Vietnam and other Asian countries each induvial has a small book which details their family history, parents, births, marriages and divorces. This is how they prove that one is single. It is difficult to explain to them here that in the U.S. we do not have a similar record. I explained that in my document submission and simply provided my own affidavit which they accepted.

Yes, I can see this part is quite a bit more challenging.  I will be marrying a Vietnamese woman this October, and upon contacting the Vietnamese embassy in NY they told me that this Certificate of No Marriage can be obtained from my states office of Vital Statistics. I contacted them and they have no such form. I of course have the Affidavit of Single Status, but it appears they need both forms.

Any idea how this can work?

Thanks!

Dave W.

Megalodon :

I contacted them and they have no such form.

Are you sure you are asking for it by the proper name?  Instead of asking by a specific name, describe what you need.  I know my state of Hawaii has exactly such a document but they call it a "Certificate of No Marriage Records."  Technically it does not mean you are single but only that they can't find any records, and maybe more important it only means that you were never married in that one state.

If that doesn't work, consider this alternative as absurd as it may sound.  Go to another state like New Jersey and get the document there.  Vietnamese bureaucrats don't seem to grasp the federal structure of the US anyway and may never notice the difference.

Quite sure you can get your "single" certificate from your County office.

Also, Secretary of State where you became single.

THIGV :
Megalodon :

I contacted them and they have no such form.

Are you sure you are asking for it by the proper name?  Instead of asking by a specific name, describe what you need.  I know my state of Hawaii has exactly such a document but they call it a "Certificate of No Marriage Records."  Technically it does not mean you are single but only that they can't find any records, and maybe more important it only means that you were never married in that one state.

Yes, I did both. I'm in SC and they apparently have nothing of the sort. They said I could fill out a request for a marriage certificate, but that requires the name of a spouse - which I now don't have. I have the certified divorce paperwork, but then that is something that they also require in addition to the certificate of No Marriage.

The county defers all of these sorts of things to the SC gov site (http://www.scdhec.gov/VitalRecords/), so there is no obtaining any sort of certificate at the county level. It's frustrating that they don't accept the divorce paperwork and the affidavit of single status. So I'm still not sure what to do.

Dave W.

Maybe a Notary Public will help?

Or the Embassy will have to verify - US Embassy?

@ungarb,
   That is simply not true that if you are unmarried you can not live together. They changed that some time back.

When I married here all I needed was my divorce paperwork and the certificate of single status. But the different offices make up their own rules. Hard to know what you need to do from one office worker to the other. Welcome to Vietnam.

Listen to Roy Little. There is no reason to marry a women in Vietnam in my opinion. You have no rights at all and she runs the show. And to take on two children is noble thing to do. But you can get young bird with no children that can rip you off just as well. If these gals lips are moving they are lying. They want your money, a home, or immigration to the West.

Agreed all offices and employees are different but they all understand lubrication.

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