A “bona fide” marriage is a relationship in which both parties share a genuine and meaningful connection. It means that you and your spouse intend to spend your life together, regardless of the immigration benefits. There are consequences put in place for couples entering a fraudulent relationship for the purpose of evading any provision of the immigration laws. USCIS does not take marriage-based green cards lightly, so it is important to paint a picture of your relationship thoroughly and over time.
Filing Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative is the first step in proving a legally valid marriage and the foundation of applying for a marriage-based green card. One of the main reasons I-130 petitions get denied is because there was not enough evidence to support the validity of the marriage. So, how do prove your relationship is bona fide?
Proof of combined finances and households:
Documentation outlining the assets you share and your living situation is significant evidence that can easily prove the validity of your marriage. These documents can include, but aren’t limited to:
- Joint mortgage or lease documents
- Utilities or other bills showing both spouses’ names
- Driver’s licenses showing identical addresses
- Insurance statements
- Joint bank statements
- Joint tax returns
- Joint credit card statements
It is important to note that while USCIS expects married couples to live under the same roof, living apart from your spouse should not be preventative of obtaining a marriage-based green card. In the event you and your spouse do not or have not lived together for a substantial amount of time (due to reasons such as school or work), you must include a strong statement to USCIS justifying your living situation. This, along with the submission of alternative evidence, can be suitable to getting the I-130 Petition approved.
Proof of a genuine relationship:
Next, it is important to prove an authentic, long-lasting relationship, apart from your joint finances and mortgages. USCIS wants the history of your relationship. This proof can include:
- Marriage license
- Phone logs or text message records
- Wedding photos
- Travel itineraries from vacations
- Photos together with friends and family
- Hotel room and plane ticket receipts, especially to the home country of the spouse
- Sworn affidavits from family and friends
USCIS is looking for cracks in the foundation of your relationship, so it is important to provide solid proof of a strong emotional connection. From the start of filing the petition to the green card interview, it is important to remain honest and open about your relationship. You can prepare for your interview by practicing interview questions and meeting with your immigration attorney prior to the interview.
Contact us for a consultation if you are in the early stages of working to obtain your marriage-based green card!