As a Miami immigration lawyer who has many immigrant clients who are applying for a Green Card based on their marriage to a United States Citizen (Form I-130), I often receive questions about how the United States Government will know that the marriage is a bona fide marriage.
I have covered the standard of bona fide marriages in previous posts, however, this requirement is so important in marriage petitions that it bears repeating. Proving that your marriage is “real” and based on love is not just a wistful, pie-in-the-sky sentiment. For immigration purposes, the United States Government places the burden on you, the immigrant, to provide that your marriage is not just a sham marriage designed to obtain a green card. At this juncture, I should add that if you require further clarification as to what a bona fide marriage is, I would highly encourage you to speak with a Miami immigration lawyer.
If you are applying to obtain a green card based on marriage to a United States Citizen, or Lawful Permanent Resident, the United States government requires that you provide evidence that the marriage is bona fide (i.e. genuine).
In order to prove to the USCIS that your marriage is bona fide, you and/or your Miami immigration lawyer should submit the following. Please note – this is not an exhaustive list of documentation. Should you have any questions as to the kind of documentation that you should turn in with your application, do not guess. You should instead consult with a Miami immigration attorney.
- Your marriage must be valid where the marriage took place. To show this, you will need to provide a copy of your marriage certificate. This is especially tricky for same-sex couples. If you do not have a valid marriage certificate from a state that allows for same-sex marriages, you need to speak with a Miami immigration lawyer immediately to discuss your options.
- You are expected to live together. If you do not live together, be prepared for the USCIS to question you and your spouse as to why. Some examples of documentation proving that you live with your spouse are: lease (both names should be on it), mortgage (both names should be on it), title (both names should be on it). Also, water and power bills (you guessed it – in joint name) are further documentation that you live together with your spouse.
- You have a true romantic relationship. I have had some client scoff at this, but this aspect is very important for immigration purposes. To prove that you are in a legitimate marriage, you will need to provide the following if you have them – photos of the two of you together, romantic cards, and/or romantic letters. In addition affidavits from your friends, family, and/or religious leader/pastor that speak to the nature of your relationship would also help.
- Photographs. If you do not have any photos of yourself and your spouse together other than your wedding photos, be prepared for additional questions from the USCIS. Again, the burden of proof is placed upon you, the applicant, to demonstrate that your marriage is a bona fide marriage.
- Finances. Bills, credit card statements, bank statements, and tax returns – these should all be included.
- Affidavits from friends and family members. If you have friends and family members who knew you and your spouse before the two of you got married, and who can attest to the romantic nature of your relationship, you may want to consider including their testimony as affidavits/letters with your application.
It bears noting that as with any other immigration petition, your I-130 Marriage Petition is discretionary. Therefore, when filing the I-130 marriage petition, extra care must be taken to ensure that the true romantic, genuine nature of your marriage is displayed for the USCIS. This is especially so if there is a large age difference between you and your spouse, or if one of you cannot speak the other’s language. Again, if you have any questions regarding your I-130 marriage petition, do not guess – I would highly suggest that you speak with a Miami immigration lawyer to discuss your options.
If you think would like more information on providing the right bona fides for your I-130 marriage petition, please contact Miami immigration attorney Michael G. Murray, Esq. at (305)895-2500 or visit our website at www. mmurraylaw.com