The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is extremely effective in detecting individuals that got married only for immigration purposes. In this article, you will find out how to prove your marriage is bona fide when applying for a marriage-based green card with USCIS.
What Does Immigration Look For in a Marriage? – Proving a Bona Fide Relationship
Applicants pursuing a marriage-based green card may prove the authenticity of their marriages on two different occasions – when filing Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) and submitting the required document package, or when answering questions at the green card interview.
Filing Form I-130 – What Are the Documents To Be Submitted in the Petition?
When filing Form I-130 and preparing the petition package, applicants must be aware that USCIS will look at the full picture of the relationship over time. The lack of evidence of an authentic marriage is the most common reason several I-130 petitions result in denials by USCIS.
While the list of evidence in the following topics is extensive, each applicant must include documents that suit their case best – not randomly submitting all documents. Accordingly, the best approach is to consult with an experienced immigration lawyer to prepare the petition.
Evidence of Combined Finances:
- Joint bank account statements showing the names of both spouses
- Titles or deeds for jointly owned property (e.g., real property, vehicles, etc.)
- Mortgage or loan documents showing a joint liability for both spouses
- Joint credit card statements showing the name of each spouse
- Joint auto, health, and/or home insurance policies covering both spouses
- Life insurance policies showing each spouse as the primary beneficiary
Evidence that the Couple Resides Together:
- Joint mortgage or lease documents showing both spouses’ names
- Utility bills showing both spouses’ names
- Property deeds showing both spouses’ names
- Driver’s licenses showing the same address for both spouses
- Insurance statements showing the same address for both spouses
- Joint bank statements showing the same address for both spouses
- Original copies of letters from family members, friends, and/or employers, showing the same address for both spouses
Notice that living apart will raise red flags with USCIS officials. If you haven’t lived with your spouse since you got married, make sure to consult with an expert attorney to have your case assessed individually.
Evidence that the Couple is Raising Children Together:
- Copies of children’s birth certificates
- Medical statements attesting the couple is undergoing pregnancy or fertility treatments
- Adoption certificates (if applicable)
If one of the spouses has children from a previous marriage being raised by the couple, it is possible to submit school or medical records listing the stepparent as an emergency contact for the stepchildren.
Attending the USCIS Interview – How to Prepare to Answer the Required Questions?
Once the petition is approved by USCIS, applicants still have a second opportunity to establish the authenticity of their marriages at the USCIS interview.
Many applicants tend to get stressed and overwhelmed when attending the interview, which may result in delays or even denial by USCIS. In this sense, it is crucial to consult with an immigration attorney to prepare for the interview and ensure a positive outcome.