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How to get Married with a Foreigner?

Although marriages are considered among the most basic human rights, the procedure is anything but basic, even for the citizens of India. And it is even more complicated for people who are not residents of India.
Written by:
Abhishek Thakkar
Published on
27-Aug-19

Legal Requirements of a Typical Marriage in India:

Five Acts determine the procedure for marriages for different religions in India. For Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, and Buddhists, there is the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 to govern marriages between parties that come under these religions. For Muslims, there is the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937 to govern marriages between parties that come under the religion.

For Indian Christians, there is the Indian Christian Marriage Act 1889 for marriages between Indian parties that come under the religion. For Parsees, there is the Parsee Marriage & Divorce Act, 1939 to govern marriages between parties that come under the religion. Lastly, for marriages without any religious restrictions, there is the Special Marriage Act, 1954

Also, in 2006, the Hon'able Supreme Court has recommended compulsory registration of marriage across all religions.

 

A) The Requisite Conditions to Consider before a Typical Indian Marriage:

  • Both the parties must be of religions for which the act exists (Hindus, Buddhist, Jaina or Sikh by religion for the Hindu Marriage Act) (one party must be Christian by religion for the Christian Marriage Act) ( Muslims by religion for the Muslim Personal Law Shariat Application Act,) (Parsees for the Parsee Marriage & Divorce Act)

  1. Except for this, most acts have a common way of working with some differences, like polygamy being allowed for Muslims and other factors like age of majority being missing from the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act.

  • Neither of the parties (i.e. the individuals who are seeking to marry one another) is to have a living spouse (i.e. the individuals should either be unmarried, divorced or widowed). 

  • The consent of the parties is valid (i.e. the individuals have sound minds) and the parties are capable of entering into a marriage mentally (i.e. the individuals are not subject to attacks of insanity and are fit for the procreation of children). 

  • The male is of twenty-one years of age or older and the female is of eighteen years of age or older. 

B) Compulsory Registration:

Although acts like the Hindu Marriage Act considered registration optional in the past, it is not anymore. In 2006, the Supreme Court of India made registration for all marriages to be compulsory, regardless of the religion and directed the Government to penalize non-compliance.

marriage with foreigner in india

 

What is the Procedure for Marrying an Nri/ Foreigner in India?

Court marriages in India have given an opportunity for individuals to solemnize their marriage procedure, regardless of their nationality. The Special Marriage Act governs the court marriage process and documents required to partake in the marriage. 

However, Foreigners/NRIs are prohibited from partaking in marriages in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Furthermore, a marriage between an Indian and an NRI can be annulled by a foreign court; the annulment can be approved by an Indian court.

A) The Requisite Conditions to Consider before the Marriage:

There are three basic requisite conditions for two individuals to go ahead with the marriage procedure. These conditions are determined under Section 4 of the Special Marriage Act, and are as follows -

  • Neither of the parties (i.e. the individuals who are seeking to marry one another) is to have a living spouse (i.e. the individuals should either be unmarried, divorced or widowed).

  • The consent of the parties is valid (i.e. the individuals have sound minds) and the parties are capable of entering into a marriage mentally (i.e. the individuals are not subject to attacks of insanity and are fit for the procreation of children). 

  • The male is of twenty-one years of age or older and the female is of eighteen years of age or older.

B) Procedure for the Marriage:

  • The parties have to provide a notice to the Marriage Officer of the district in which at least one of the parties has resided for a period of not less than thirty days. 

  1. The form provided in the second schedule of the Special Marriage Act is to be provided as the notice.

  • The notice will be published by the marriage officer by affixing it to the place in his office and will keep the original copy of the notice in the Marriage Notice Book.

  • If a person has an objection to the marriage, he/she is allowed to raise the objection within 30 days from the date of publication of notice by the marriage registrar.

  • During the court marriage, a declaration is to be signed by the parties along with three witnesses declaring that the parties are doing the marriage with their free consent. 

  • The marriage can be solemnized at any place at a reasonable distance in the Marriage Officer’s district. However, it will not be considered valid unless each party says to the other in the presence of the Marriage Officer and the three witnesses and in any language understood by the parties,-“I, (A), take the (B), to be my lawful wife (or husband)”.

  • After the marriage is solemnized, the Marriage Officer will enter a certificate in a book that is kept by him, called the Marriage Certificate Book and the certificate is to be signed by the parties to the marriage and the three witnesses. The certificate is deemed conclusive evidence of marriage being valid in India.

  1. The form provided in the fourth schedule of the Special Marriage Act is to be used as the certificate.

marriage certificate for foreign marriage

 

How is the Process different from a Marriage with Couple who are Indian Citizens?

Residency of at least thirty days for at least one of the two parties in the Marriage Officer’s district is a requisite condition before providing the notice. Three situations can arise out of this requisite and these situations are as follows-

  • Both the Parties are Indian Residents:

  1. If they are residents of the same district, they can send the notice to the Marriage Officer of the district.

  2. If they are residents of districts with different Marriage Officer’s, they can choose which one of the two would they like to be registered under and send the notice to the chosen Marriage Officer.

  • One Party is an Indian Resident and the other is a Foreign Resident (i.e. an Nri or a Foreigner):

  1. They can send the notice to the district Marriage Officer of the Indian resident's residential district.

  • Both the Parties are Foreign Residents:

  1. One of the two individuals can reside in the district of their choice for thirty days, and then send the notice to the district’s Marriage Officer.

  2. Both of the individuals can reside in the district of their choice for thirty days, and then send the notice to the district’s Marriage Officer.

What additional Documents are required and to be Verified?

  • Documents Required for a Marriage under the Act from the Parties:

  1. The notice signed by both parties. 

  2. Receipt of fees paid along with the notice. 

  3. Date of birth proof of both the parties.

  4.  Residential address proof. 

  5. Affidavit - one each from both the bride and groom. 

  6. A statement affirming that the parties are not related to each other under the prohibited degree of relationships.

  • Additional Or Alternative Documents Required Only From Foreigners:

  1. Proof of residency and address in India. 

  2. A valid passport

  3. Original birth certificate

  4. Visa. 

  5. Certificate of single status. 

  6. Letters of no objection through the home country's embassy regarding the free consent of the parties. 

  7. Death certificate or divorce papers, if required by the parties.

nri marriage registration in India

 

What Steps can be taken by Deserted Indian Women Abroad?

Although desertion is an abhorrent activity, women do not need to be afraid of not finding justice. Indian law ensures that these women are allowed to receive justice. Women are empowered to receive compensation from their NRI husband’s in case of desertion, even if they are residing abroad. In a situation where the NRI husband chooses not to show for the court proceedings, the woman has the available remedy under the Passport Act to impound and/or revoke the passport of her NRI husband if he failed to respond to the summons by the Indian courts. 

The Indian Ministry of External affairs created a scheme on “Legal and Financial Assistance to Indian Women Deserted by their Overseas Indian Spouses.” The scheme is a welfare measure to support women of Indian origin who have been deserted by their overseas Indian spouses fraudulently, through the Indian Mission abroad with their empanelled NGOs, lawyers, etc.

In 2007, the Ministry released a guidance booklet for Indians who marry NRIs/Foreigners. In the first few pages of this document, the Ministry provides recommendations for Indians who choose to marry an NRI/Foreigner.

A) Due Diligence:

The Ministry recommends for one to check the NRI/Foreigner groom’s personal information particulars such as-

  • Marital status

  • Employment details

  • Immigration status

  • Financial status

  • Properties said to be owned by him in India

  • Residence address

  • Family background

  • Visa

  • Passport

  • Voter or alien registration card

  •  Social Security number

  • Tax return details

nri marriages in india

 

B) Eternal Vigilance:

The Ministry also recommends the consideration of not doing a few things-

  • To not take any decision in haste and do not get pressurized to do so for any reason whatsoever.

  • To not make matrimony a passage to greener pastures abroad by falling prey to lucrative schemes to migrate to another country or promises of getting a green card through marriage.

  • To not finalise marriage matters, without meeting the family or over a long distance, on the phone or through emails.

  • To not be pressurized in taking impulsive decisions of a marriage proposal with an NRI just because it appears too perfect to be true.

  • To not negotiate one’s daughter’s marriage via a bureau, agent or middleman or trust them blindly

  • In case matrimonial negotiations take place via matrimonial sites, verify the details and authenticity of particulars submitted about the groom.

  • To not finalise matters in secrecy – publishing the proposal among the near and dear ones, friends and close relatives could help one in getting vital information that one may not be able to collect otherwise.

C) Registration:

Most importantly, the Ministry recommends getting the marriage registered in India, so that proper verification can take place and the recourse of availing compensation can be used.