Status of multiple marriages upon immigration

Say I’m a wealthy prince of some Persian Gulf state. Common enough for someone of my wealth, I have 3 or 4 wives. Now suppose I choose to immigrate to the US or Canada. Am I limited to bringing only one wife? Would having more than one wife be sufficient cause to prevent my immigration? What if all are allowed to immigrate for whatever reason (refugee status, say), do I have to declare which is my “real” wife? There are no doubt countless forms to be filled out for different reasons (taxes, house mortgage, etc), but it seems to me that most of these could be avoided in selected circumstances, leaving multiple marriages intact and due legitimate recognition under law until someone brought a challenge.

Someone set me straight on immigration procedures, and what the big issues are legally. This was inspired by a radio report on France’s efforts at “decohabitation.”

I don’t know about immigration, but here in Minnesota, it’s common for wealthy Arabs to come to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, and to bring several of their wives with them. The patient may stay in the hospital, but the family normally rents rooms (or an entire floor or two) in a local hotel.

Although polygamy is illegal here in Minnesota, the local authorities completely ignore this. There have been cases where patients have died, and the authorities have allowed the ‘head wife’ to fill out the legal paperwork as next of kin.

I think the most relevant point here is something you said: “Say I’m a wealthy prince…”

What about say a diplomat from an Islamic country who decided to bring all 4 of his wives with him? Would they all get status as diplomatic spouses?

At least here, the large majority of polygamous immigrants aren’t “wealthy princes” from the persian gulf, but rather workers from sub-saharian Africa.

Only the first spouse. From the State Department’s website (italics mine)

USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services) has the same information but buried a little deeper:

Note the italics there. Only the first spouse is admissible under immigration law. If you’re just coming to visit (or, say, receive medical treatment at Mayo) then immigration law is not involved and you can bring your wives.

Regarding seeking refugee status, the USCIS also addresses this:

The following is a list of grounds for which a refugee may not be admitted to the U.S.:[ul][li]…[]A person who is intending to practice polygamy in the United States[]…[/ul][/li][/quote]
According to this, only your first wife could seek refugee status with you.

And regarding the diplomatic Islamic official who wants to bring his multiple wives … I have no idea, but I’ll toss out the relevant laws according to USCIS and let someone else decipher them.
INA Section 101(a)(15)(A)(i)
8 CFR 214.2(a)

A quick read of those doesn’t say anything about multiple spouses, only that spouses and dependents of the diplomatic official gain a class A nonimmigrant visa.

Some years ago I helped a friend fill out an application for a green card. I recall that among the boxes you have to check is one that says you are not involved in a polygamous marriage. So, not only would your second through nth wives not count, you’d have to assert that they weren’t your wives anyway.

Impressive job by lno digging all that up. So it sounds as though they actively try to prevent polygamous spouses from immigrating here on the basis of that marriage, and based on cwthree’s post, try to prevent anyone practicing polygamy from obtaining a green card.

This still leaves some holes.
First, what if all the spouses immigrated independentally? We can leave aside the apparently stricter rules for green cards; one doesn’t need to work to immigrate. Perhaps each of the spouses is a widow or widower, and is immigrating as a parent of a child who is a US citizen. While we’re concocting far-fetched circumstances, let’s have the first wife die, since the cited regulations so far seem to throw a lot of doubt on wives other than the first - this may give the others a little better standing.

Secondly, can an unmarried immigrant with a green card travel back to Dubai or wherever, and marry several similar spouses with their own US work visas? For that matter, can I travel overseas and marry several American spouses?