Proving Your U.S. Green Card Marriage is Real
To obtain a U.S. marriage green card, all applicants must prove your green card marriage is real. A genuine marriage is also referred to as a “bona-fide” relationship. This typically implies that the couple loves and respects each other and has committed to a lifetime together. Proving this kind of relationship goes beyond just showing a marriage certificate. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is vigilant about vetting applications to ensure no applicants are fraudulently seeking a green card. Proving the authenticity of a marriage can be done through a straightforward process, but applicants must put together a convincing file of supporting evidence for their relationship.
Required Documents for Proof of Marriage
Applicants must gather strong evidence that demonstrates the genuine nature of their marriage. This might include joint financial documents, proof of joint property ownership, or joint utility bills. In addition to official documentation, couples should collect evidence of their shared life, including photographs, receipts from their wedding, or souvenirs from trips taken together. Applicants can also submit affidavits from friends and family who bear witness to their genuine relationship.
The following list provides details for the types of legal and financial documents immigrant spouses might include in their application:
- Joint ownership or lease of property: Submit evidence with signatures such as a deed, purchase contract, mortgage agreement, or utility bills for a shared property. Many college students may want to transition from a J-1 visa to a marriage green card.
- Joint financial assets: Provide evidence of a shared bank account or other financial accounts. This could include investment accounts like stocks or mutual funds.
- Joint responsibility for financial liabilities and welfare: This could include evidence of responsibility for financial loans or taking financial steps to care for each other’s long-term welfare. This might include joint income tax returns, bank transfers from one spouse to another, wills featuring both spouses, or power of attorney naming both spouses.
Other documents that applicants might include could be related to their relationships with friends and family, including any children they have with their spouse.
- Proof of raising children together: This is not a requirement, but providing birth certificates and other documentation related to the couple’s children can make the application that much stronger.
- Evidence of shared life: Bona fide married couples should have many options to choose from here. These documents can include evidence of trips taken together, receipts from gifts purchased for each other, wedding-related expenses, or photographs of life together.
Some applicants might choose to submit affidavits of their bona vide marriage. These are letters from third-party sources like friends and family willing to provide a written statement attesting to the genuine nature of the marriage. These letters should include the full name and address of the person submitting the affidavit, along with all information proving they have witnessed the marriage and prove its authenticity.
If you are working on getting your marriage green card, you may want to consult with a lawyer to determine how long the marriage green card process takes. Contact our law office if you have any questions and would like to talk to an attorney.
Preparing for the Marriage Interview
Applicants for a U.S. marriage green card will be required to attend an interview with their spouse. This is when the USCIS officers will determine whether the marriage is genuine. Couples should be prepared to answer questions about their relationship before getting married, as well as their decision to get married and confirm details about their life together. USCIS officers tend to be very thorough in their interview questions, so it’s important to answer truthfully and authentically.
Whether interviewing at the U.S. Embassy for consular processing or at a USCIS office for adjustment of status, the immigration officer will ask questions until they have determined that the marriage is genuine.
The following is a list of potential questions that an immigration or consular officer might ask at a marriage green card interview:
- Where and how did you meet?
- Who proposed marriage and how?
- What activities do you enjoy doing together?
- What did you serve at your wedding (to eat or drink)?
- Do you use contraception (birth control)? If so, what form?
- Do the two of you attend regular religious services? Where and when?
- Have you met your spouse’s family?
- How and where did you meet?
- What activities do you enjoy as a couple?
- Who proposed to whom and how?
- What was the menu for your wedding?
- Who sleeps on which side of the bed?
- What kind of contraception do you use, if any?
- Does your spouse have tattoos on his/her body?
- What are the difficulties you face in your marriage?
Marriage Fraud Indicators
Unfortunately, some applicants attempt to engage in fraudulent marriage to obtain a U.S. green card. Immigration officers will look for certain qualities in a couple and try to identify any indicators of fraud. Even if the marriage is bona fide, applicants need to know what kinds of characteristics are considered red flags so they can address them if necessary.
If USCIS or the employee conducting consular processing sees any of the following characteristics in a couple, they may be more likely to believe the marriage to be fraudulent if the applicant and their spouse:
- Are much older or younger than each other
- Have been married for a short time
- Don't live together
- Don't share any joint accounts
- Can't speak to each other in the same language
- Don't have any shared interests
- Present wedding photos that look staged
Bona Fide Marriage to Remove Conditions on Residence (I-751)
In some cases, the applicant might apply for a marriage green card while possessing a conditional green card. In this case, they will need to file an I-751 application to remove the conditions of their residency. This document must be filed jointly with their spouse.
As part of this application, they must prove that their marriage is still bona fide, including any of the documents listed above.
Proving that a marriage is genuine is an essential step in obtaining a U.S. marriage green card. By gathering strong evidence of their shared life together, couples can increase their chances of success. Working with an experienced immigration attorney can also be an effective strategy for navigating the complexities of the green card application process.
FAQs For Proving Your U.S. Green Card Marriage is Real
What does it mean for a U.S. marriage to be bona fide?
A bona fide marriage is a marriage entered into in good faith to establish a life together as a married couple.
Why do I need to prove that my U.S. marriage is bona fide?
If you are a foreign national married to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, you may need to prove that your marriage is bona fide and obtain certain immigration benefits, such as a green card. Immigration officers will not grant a U.S. marriage green card to fraudulent married couples.
What documents can I use to prove my U.S. marriage is bona fide?
You can use a variety of documents to prove that your marriage is bona fide, such as joint tax returns, joint bank account statements, lease agreements, utility bills, and photos of you and your spouse together.
How can I prepare for an interview to prove my U.S. marriage is bona fide?
If you are called in for an interview with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to prove that your marriage is bona fide, you should bring documentation that proves your relationship is legitimate. You should also be prepared to answer specific questions about your relationship, such as how you met and what you love about each other.
What should I do if I suspect my spouse uses our marriage solely for immigration benefits?
If you suspect your spouse is using your marriage solely for immigration benefits, contact an immigration attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney can advise you on how to protect yourself and your legal status and can help you take appropriate steps to address the situation.