When a US citizen or a lawful permanent resident (commonly referred as a “green card” holder) petitions to bring his/her spouse to the United States, the petitioner must prove that the couple has a bona fide marriage. A bona fide marriage is nothing more that proving the marriage between the couple is legitimate and not entered for the purpose of obtaining immigration benefits.
At the time the petition is filed, the US citizen or permanent resident must include proof of the marriage. Most petitions are approved without the need of a personal interview if they are properly documented. Whenever USCIS determines that they need additional documentation to determine the validity of the marriage they issue a Request for Evidence (RFE). You must respond to a RFE within the timeframe provided or risk having your petition denied.
What type of evidence can you use to prove a bona fide marriage?
Below are the most common documents you can use. However, not all marriages are equal so the list doesn’t work for everyone. Let’s start with the documents that are easier to provide:
- Birth certificates for children of the relationship.
- Joint tax returns.
- Bank accounts or credit cards in joint name.
- Leases, deeds, mortgages, promissory notes in joint name.
- Cable, cell phone, internet and utility bills in joint name.
- Automobile registrations and insurances in joint name.
- Photographs from vacations, holidays, life cycle events, showing spouses together and with family members (this includes pictures uploaded to social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram).
- Letters, cards, e-mails and text messages between spouses (yes, including those from Whatsapp and other applications).
- Statements of friends, family members, neighbors confirming co-habitation (even better if in the form of an affidavit).
How about if you have very few documents or none at all to support your application? This is where you have to be creative. As long as the marriage is legitimate, find any documentation, communication or testimony to provide to USCIS.
A competent attorney can successfully to guide through this. Always seek the advice of an attorney before filing the petition. The attorney will know what documents to send and when is the best time to send them.
DISCLAIMER: The purpose of this article is for educational use only. The information contained in it does not constitute legal advice and an attorney-client relationship is not created by reading this post.