POMS Reference

GN 00307: Foreign Evidence

TN 31 (08-05)

A. Introduction

Since the Mexican Government issues only Spanish-language documents, English-language documents from Mexico are not reliable. This includes those issued by lawyers who represent themselves as arranging marriages and divorces. In most cases, although a lawyer issues a “marriage certificate” or a “divorce certificate,” the legal proceeding is never instituted and the event is not recorded with the appropriate authorities.

B. Policy

1. General

SSA does not assume that an English-language (or English and Spanish) document was issued pursuant to Mexican law.

2. Marriage

In developing for a deemed marriage, a “marriage ceremony” may be found to have occurred if the parties:

  1. Signed papers;

  2. Observed the formalities in arranging for the marriage; and

  3. Believed then and there that they were married.

3. Proxy marriages

SSA accepts a Spanish-language marriage certificate issued by a State or local civil registry authority showing a proxy marriage as based on records in that office. Whether it results in a valid marital relationship depends on the applicable law.

All other marriage certificates showing proxy marriages must be handled under GN 00307.679C.

4. Divorce decrees

SSA does not assume that an English-language divorce decree or certificate, or one in English and Spanish, is a valid certification. Divorce decrees issued by Mexican court officials are lengthy documents and always in Spanish.

Do not request verification of a divorce decree or certificate unless there is evidence that:

  1. At least one of the parties to the divorce resided in the jurisdiction which granted the divorce at the time it was purportedly granted; or

  2. The applicable State law would recognize the divorce as valid.

C. Procedure

Develop for a deemed, putative or common-law marriage if a claimant submits an English-language (or English and Spanish) marriage certificate or a proxy marriage record which cannot be accepted as explained in GN 00307.679B.3.

If a deemed marriage is not possible because living-in-the-same-household is not met, develop for a:

  • common-law relationship if the applicable law recognizes such marriages; or

  • putative marriage if neither a deemed nor common-law marriage can be established and the applicable law recognizes such marriages (GN 00305.085).

If, after full development, it cannot be established that the claimant is the NH's spouse:

  • Forward the documentary evidence (with any needed supplemental information) to the appropriate FSP in Mexico for verification if there is sufficient information to locate the civil record (see GN 00307.679D.): or

  • Deny the claim if the evidence does not show, and the claimant cannot furnish, sufficient information to contact the appropriate registrar.

D. Process

1. Verification of marriage records

Federal Benefits Units (FBU) in Mexico verify marriage records only if the evidence shows, or the claimant furnishes, the:

a. Name of the town or city

Name of the town or city  in which the ceremony was performed or was recorded.

NOTE: If this was a large city, the evidence must show where in the city the marriage occurred or was registered so that the FBU knows which register to check. For instance, if the marriage occurred in Ciudad Juarez, the evidence must show the address or district in which it occurred or was registered.

b. Date (month, day and year)

Date (month, day and year)  on which the marriage occurred or was registered.

FBUs check by phone, mail or personal contact with the registrar for the place where the marriage occurred, or was registered, for the date in question. Requests are returned to the requesting office if they do not contain sufficient information to identify the source record and the date on which the marriage occurred or was registered.

2. Verification of divorce decrees

FBUs verify the contents of divorce decrees or certificates only under the circumstances cited in GN 00307.280B.1.