Marriage to a U.S. citizen is one of the best-known ways of obtaining permanent resident status in the U.S. The process has its benefits. For example, some persons who would otherwise be ineligible to adjust status to permanent residence may nonetheless do so through marriage. Because of the relative ease of obtaining marriage licenses and the added immigration law exceptions that apply to spouses of U.S. citizens, this method is also subject to frequent fraud.
As such, the U.S. Immigration and Citizenship Services (USCIS) must sort through applications with a fine-toothed comb. In effect, couples who enter into a genuine marriage may sometimes find it difficult to prove that their marriage is in fact bona fide. This is especially so for couples whose preference is to keep their finances separate, or those who cannot afford an elaborate wedding. This post provides some suggestions for documents that can be presented to the USCIS to strengthen your case.
1. Evidence of Cohabitation
While it is not always the case, married couples frequently live together. As such, any evidence showing joint ownership of property or evidence of a joint lease, can help your case. Consider the following when gathering your documents:
Deed to property showing both names
Mortgage or loan documents showing both names
Lease agreement showing both names
Drivers’ licenses or IDs showing the same address
Bank statements showing the same address
Voided or cancelled checks showing the same address
Utility bills showing the same address (electricity, water, gas, trash, cable, internet, cell phone, etc.)
Property insurance agreements, statements, or cards showing the same address
Health and life insurance statements showing the same address
Correspondence from friends, family, or businesses showing the same address
Affidavits from friends, family, neighbors, and landlords attesting to cohabitation
2. Evidence of Commingling of Finances
Again, commingling of financial resources is common to married couples. Even if you prefer to keep your finances separate, you may have some evidence of commingling that you may not realize. Consider providing the following documents:
Bank statements for joint checking, savings, and credit card accounts
Voided and cancelled checks for joint accounts
Statements for joint loans or loans where one spouse is a co-signor for the other spouse
Copies of bank statements from separate accounts and cancelled checks showing that you share jointly in your financial responsibilities and big purchases (for example, if each spouse pays half of rent from a separate account or if each spouse paid one half toward the purchase of a car)
Joint health, life, property, and auto insurance agreements, statements, and cards
Documents showing joint ownership of real property, cars, or investments
Life insurance policies, wills, and trusts, designating your spouse as a beneficiary
3. Evidence of Parenthood
Raising children together may help you establish that your marriage is bona fide. Consider providing the following documents:
Birth certificates showing both spouses as parents
Adoption certificates showing both spouses as parents
Medical records evidencing an ongoing pregnancy
Evidence of a relationship with children or step-children (photos, vacation itineraries, school records, affidavits from friends, family, and teachers)
Evidence showing the non-related parent as an emergency contact for a step-child on school records, doctor’s records, etc.
Consider asking your friends, family, neighbors, and employers to attest to the genuineness of your marriage. Each affiant should provide his or her full name, date and place of birth, address, his or her relationship to the couple, his or her U.S. citizenship status, and an account of why he or she believes the marriage to be bona fide. This may include an account of joint experiences, etc.
5. Evidence of Joint Experiences
Couples petitioning for a green card based on marriage should consider providing evidence of their joint experiences.
Photos from the couple’s wedding, honeymoon, vacations, family dinners, holidays, etc. (Consider listing the names of any other individuals in the photos as well as the approximate date and location)
Travel itineraries and hotel bookings from joint vacations or trips
Tickets to events you both attended or plan to attend
6. Additional Documents
Evidence showing your spouse as your work emergency contact
Evidence showing your spouse as your emergency contact at your doctor’s and dentist’s offices
Receipts for any gifts you have purchased for each other
Cards from friends and family congratulating you on your wedding, anniversary, or other joint life events
Evidence that each spouse has met or communicated with the other spouse’s parents and relatives such as photos, letters, cards, or emails
Phone and text message records showing that you and your spouse communicate on a regular basis
Evidence showing both spouses’ names on a pet’s adoption paperwork, pet registration form, or pet’s microchip registration
Evidence showing your spouse as the emergency contact at a vet’s office
The list above is by no means exclusive and does not guarantee that your case will be approved. You should always consult up-to-date instructions from the USCIS and your attorney. If you are interested in learning more about petitioning for an immigrant visa based on marriage, contact us at 1-844-HOLBORN and one of our immigration attorneys will be happy to assist you.
Disclaimer: This post is meant for general informational purposes only, and it is not to be construed as legal advice. Holborn Law APC does not endorse any linked content. As with any laws, the information in this blog post may change at any time and may apply differently in different jurisdictions. The post may constitute Attorney Advertising as defined by the rules of professional responsibility of some jurisdictions. Holborn Law is based in Orange County and Riverside.The attorneys of Holborn Law APC are active members of the State Bar of California and licensed to practice law in California. All services relating to immigration and naturalization provided by Holborn Law APC are provided by active members of the State Bar of California or by a person under the supervision of an active member of the State Bar of California.