Greetings. I am new to this forum and i hope i can share my experience with sponsoring a spouse in Vietnam with fellow peeps and hopefully gain some great advices. I recently came back from Vietnam in March. I was in Vietnam for 1 month, it was my first trip to Vietnam. I married a girl in Vietnam while i was there. We had been talking on phones..etc..for about 8 months. I didnt have the proper documents for a marriage cerficate so i am coming back to Vietnam in June to do it. Now i am hearing from a lot of my relatives in Vietnam that there is a law in Vietnam (possibly a new law) where you must first obtain a marriage certificate before marriage. I also heard this from a Immigration Counselor in Vietnam. Law or not, I already got married. Anyways, I think thats a really dumb law if it is true. A lot of people who travel to Vietnam have jobs and do not have time to stay in Vietnam, wait for marriage certificate (takes about 20 days not too sure), then plan for a wedding, go on a honeymoon. Really? who has that much time? People like me have to travel back again to Vietnam just to obtain a marriage certificate. I would of had less headache,and more time to plan, if i knew i was going to get married.
Anyways, my main question is this. Would there be any complications with the sponsorship application if I stated that i was married before I obtain a marriage certificate?
Yup, that's a new law in Vietnam, you have to have the license before marrying. And yeah, it's a pain. I think it's supposedly meant to cut down on cases where Vietnamese women end up in abusive relationships far away from their families, since the licensing process can include things like criminal checks and mental health checks, depending on the city. I guess that makes sense. Of course, the rest of us end up having to pay for the mistakes (misdeeds?) of others, as usual.
I'm just wondering--what sort of marriage was it, just the traditional ceremony at the parents' home? Was there an engagement ceremony? Was most of her family present? From what you've written, I guess you haven't been to the local Justice Department at all yet. If so, then the immediate problem I would see is that if the marriage isn't yet legal in Vietnam (i.e. you don't have the certificate yet), it would mean it isn't legal in Canada either, since marriages have to be legal in the country where they were performed in order to be legal in Canada. So you might want to wait until you get all of this sorted out before you try to submit your application to sponsor her as your spouse. (That is, let her officially become your spouse first!) Like you said, that should just be a question of going back to Vietnam, visiting the local Justice Department, filling out paperwork, and then lining up to get your picture taken with the director as he gives you the certificate.
As far as I can understand, the VNese government doesn't really care about how traditional your wedding ceremony is, or whether you have one at all. The only thing they really care about is that you've filled out the paperwork, sat through the bureaucracy, and come back to have the civil "ceremony", where they issue your certificate. You literally get a mini-ceremony courtesy of the city government, where they give you fake flowers and take photos of you signing the certificates with the director and his subordinates looking on with stony faces. It never made a lot of sense to me or my wife, but hey, if that's the way to do it, we figured let's do it.
We have a funny story about the civil ceremony, actually. I was in Vietnam for about six weeks for our wedding--two weeks before, four weeks after. My family was there from Canada, too. This was before the new law came into effect, so we got our certificate after our wedding ceremony and reception. All the paperwork was submitted and sent in to the Justice Department in Danang for its obligatory trip through the bureaucracy, and we thought hey, might as well have some fun with the families while we're waiting, so we all took a trip to Hue one morning. We were milling around the different heritage sites, emperors' tombs, and so on, when we got a call from the secretary (with whom we had a good relationship by then) asking us to come to the office urgently to do the civil ceremony with the director, as he was going on vacation for the next two weeks, meaning we'd have to wait even longer if we couldn't do it that day. Oh, and she told us to get dressed in our best suit and ao dai
for the ceremony--we were in shorts, t-shirts and raincoats. This was at 2 PM, and we were three hours' drive away from the office in Danang, which closes at 5 PM. After a quick consultation, we all frantically piled back into the van and drove three hours through heavy rain along cliffside roads with hairpin turns, dodging accidents, construction, trucks and motorbikes on the wrong side of the road, etc. As we arrived back in Danang, it was around 5:15, and the secretary called again and said "just come now, don't worry about getting dressed". So we rushed over to the Justice Department and up the steps, with both sides of the family in tow. Everyone in the office was gawking at us. I don't think they'd ever seen a couple arrive for their photo shoot in shorts and t-shirt before, much less with the groom's entire family all the way from Canada. But it was a happy ending, finally, and we got some utterly hilarious photos out of it to make up for nearly killing ourselves up in the mountains.