How Do I Prove My Marriage Is Bona Fide?
The evidence required to support an application for lawful permanent residency through marriage is imperative. The government wants to know that you entered the marriage legitimately and not with the intention to commit fraud in order to acquire status. This proof is relevant at both the initial filing for your spouse and later in time, if you are required to remove the conditions from his or her lawful permanent residency.
Necessary Forms and Timing
If you are a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident and you are filing a petition for your spouse, you would submit Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. If your marriage is less than two years in duration, you can also expect to subsequently file Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence. If approved, this second petition will remove the conditions on your spouse’s residency in order to acquire a lawful permanent resident card valid for ten years.
Examples of Possible Proof to show Marital Bona Fides
Both of these petitions require proof that the marriage is bona fide. There are countless ways to prove this requirement and the evidence will vary based on the duration and nature of your marriage.
You can submit existing evidence with your initial application, but you should continue to compile updated proofs until the time of the interview. A strong example of evidence that shows the sincerity of the marriage is joint bank accounts or shared purchase of a car or apartment. The bank accounts or credit cards should actually be ones that are accessed and used and not only opened for the purpose of having two names on an account.
A lease agreement with both names is very relevant. As you purchase assets, put both of your names on the title documents that you will submit.
Utility accounts or car insurance with both names on the statement is another form of proof. Joint membership at a local gym or association is a way to indicate shared interests and time spent together. Printouts will be required and should show the passage of time.
If you receive statements or bills at home by mail, compile an assortment to show the officer at your interview. This will serve as proof that you are residing together and receiving joint responsibilities at the marital home.
If most of your banking or bill-payment is done online, a representative sample of the monthly statements must be printed out.
For a newer marriage, photos of time spent together at holidays or family events hold weight. Photographs with extended family, such as parents or siblings, are helpful. Submission of original holiday cards, love notes, or texts add a lot of context. You should print these photos and correspondence and add dates to them showing the passage of time that the two of you have been together. It is not permissible to show texts or photos from a cell phone at the interview.
If the two of you have traveled on a plane together, the itinerary with both names and photos from your trip can add to the strength of your application.
Make sure that both of your licenses have the same address. It is the first proof you will present at your interview.
If you have children, place each other’s names as the emergency contact on the children’s school records. Adding your spouse to a life insurance policy, or simply adding him to a health insurance policy, is a good proof of marital bona fides.
If you get pregnant, proof of pregnancy is important. And, if a child is born, it’s certainly relevant to put both parent’s names on the birth certificate.
Membership in your local house of worship is another way to prove the legitimacy of your marriage. The letter from the faith leader should be printed on letterhead, attest to the couple’s/family’s membership, and speak of your attendance since a particular date. It is also possible to ask for written letters from friends who may have attended your wedding, or known the two of you from school, to attest to the duration of your relationship and how it came to be. Keep in mind that these proofs are not seen as persuasive as the other, more objective proofs mentioned in this article.
Necessary Evidence for the Interview
After filing the form, filing fee, and evidence, you can expect to receive a receipt notice acknowledging your petition. You will also receive notice of an interview date and time. As it takes some time between filing of the forms with initial evidence and the actual interview, you should keep compiling proofs and updating the evidence you will bring to the interview.
The goal should be a variety of proofs over time as opposed to less variety. You should organize your documents in a way that you can easily access what’s needed when the interviewing officer asks for it. Coming prepared with actual copies is helpful and facilitates adding the proof to your file if the officer wishes to keep it. You will be well prepared to supplement your original submission if you compile these documents over time and have them ready for review.
The evidence required to show a sincere marriage comes in various forms and is often different from one couple to the other. Not one particular item is determinative and this list is not exhaustive. If you are able to document your shared life together in any other way, please do so. Furthermore, as your relationship continues, new evidence may become available and should be added to the application.