If you’re reading this because you are at some stage of getting a green card or immigrating to U.S. on the basis of your marriage, CONGRATULATIONS! You probably got married fairly recently and now you’ll have the opportunity to form a new life in the U.S. as a legal permanent resident. However, you might be worried about a small hurdle before you can get the green card – having to prove to USCIS that your marriage is real. We understand this can seem like a preposterous and difficult task, but we are here to make the process as easy as possible.
First of all, it is important to know that USCIS is looking at whether you and your partner intend to establish a life together. USCIS tests your marriage throughout the entire process, including looking at documents you send in with your application, other documents you may be asked to provide through requests for evidence, and through an interview with a USCIS officer.
To that goal, it is important to have evidence that you and your partner truly have or will join your lives together, which will include proof of:
- Joint ownership or lease of real property (Joint deed, joint mortgage statements, joint rental agreement, etc.)
- Joint bills (gas, electric, internet, water, waste, etc.)
- Joint ownership of property (vehicle registration)
- Joint financial documents (credit cards, credit card statements, debit cards, debit card statements, joint tax returns, and bank loans)
- Joint ownership of assets (savings accounts, checking accounts, mutual funds, savings bonds, retirement, and other forms of investment accounts)
- Jointly held insurance records (application, quotes, the policy itself, bills, or account statements). This can include health, dental, disability, auto, life, home, or renter’s insurance.
- Legal records (wills, trusts, prenuptial or post-marital agreements, powers of attorney, etc.)
- Importantly, if you and your spouse have children together, have birth certificates or adoption papers available that have both of your names on it.
- If you have pets together, that can also be used as evidence of building a life together.
Another aspect that USCIS will test is demonstrations of a real relationship. To that goal, you will want to provide evidence of moments of affection and companionship between you and your spouse. This will include documents gathered from throughout your life together, such as:
- Engagement-related documents (receipts for expenses for an engagement party, photos from the engagement and engagement party, etc.)
- Wedding-related (documents receipts for expenses for the wedding, photos from the wedding, wedding rings, guest list, wedding invitations, etc.)
- Evidence of travel together (car rentals, airplane tickets, hotel reservations, pictures, etc.)
- Proof of communication with each other (text messages, emails, letters, social media posts, phone records, etc.)
- Potential religious documents (evidence of marriage through the church, baptismal records for children together, etc.)
An important thing that you will want to take is a chronologically organized set of pictures that show you and your spouse together. You will want these pictures to span throughout the entire relationship from before the marriage until close to present day. It is preferable for these pictures to include others close to you like family and friends. This means that, as much as possible, you should try to meet each other’s families and take pictures together. Note that USCIS will likely want to keep these pictures so either send pictures you are okay with not getting back or have extra copies that you can give them. An easy thing to do is to put digital pictures into a word document and collect the pictures over a period of time so you do not have to rush to put them together all at once. This will also allow you to type in the date and descriptions of the pictures and then print out the entire document to provide to USCIS.
For the interview step, a USCIS will ask you and your spouse a list of questions to test how well you know each other. The following is a non-exhaustive list of interview questions that a USCIS officer may ask:
- The circumstances surrounding how you and your spouse met;
- When, where, and why you and your spouse decided to get married;
- Details about your wedding, including how many people attended and what sort of food or drinks were served;
- Whether you and your spouse went on a honeymoon together, and where;
- What your address is, and who currently lives there;
- What vehicles, including the make, model, color, etc., you and your spouse drive;
- What type of work your spouse is engaged in;
- When your spouse’s birthday is;
- Whether you and your spouse have a joint bank account;
- Division of labor within the household (who cleans, cooks, pays the bills, etc.);
- Details about your residence, including positioning of furniture.
Finally, we will address some things that USCIS might consider to be red flags for what may be a fraudulent marriage. This includes factors such as:
- You and your spouse do not have a shared language
- There is a vast difference in age
- You and your spouse have different religions
- You and your spouse do not live together
- You and your spouse married soon after meeting
- The petitioning spouse has a history of sponsoring past spouses for immigration benefits
- Whether either you or your spouse has a history of crimes, frauds, or lies
- If the marriage was arranged by a third party
- There is a vast difference in the cultural and ethnic backgrounds
- The marriage is a secret from friends and family
Having an Immigration Attorney is Important
The immigration process can be difficult, and the consequences of a mistake can be grave. If you or a loved one needs assistance with immigration waivers, our team of experienced immigration lawyers can help. Contact Yekrangi & Associates at (949) 478-4963 for more information about how we can help you with all your immigration needs.