Ready to prove you have a real and valid marriage to USCIS? Don’t worry. It’s not so scary when you know what type of evidence to include.
I’ve put together this list of the top 10 evidence to show a bona fide marriage. Include as many of these as you can to show a strong case.
1. Marriage certificate
Yes, this one is common sense but it’s important which is why it’s #1 on this list. Make sure to submit a copy of your marriage certificate to prove you are legally married.
Without a marriage certificate, USCIS won’t have the evidence required to know that you are eligible for a family-based visa or green card.
Also, cohabitation is not the same as being legally married. So, technically even if you are in a very long term relationship where you are basically considered a married couple, you still need a marriage certificate to prove a legal marriage.
This doesn’t mean you have to have a wedding. It just means you have to file your marriage with the state or country where you took your legal vows in front of witnesses.
2. Joint finances
Next most important evidence of a bona fide marriage is joint finances and taxes. Why does USCIS love to see joint finances between married couples? Simple. It shows that you are both in it for the long haul.
Think about it…
Would you give someone you didn’t trust access to your bank account? How about your credit cards? This is why joint finances is considered really strong evidence.
It deters people who are committing immigration fraud. Of course, this isn’t a guarantee and there are plenty of people who get married just for a green card. But, if you have plenty of financial co-mingling, you will have a higher chance of being approved.
3. Joint Taxes
If you and your spouse have filed taxes joint, congrats! This is fabulous evidence to show you have a genuine marriage. For couples who don’t live together in the U.S., this may be harder to come by.
it’s mostly due to the fact that the foreign spouse isn’t a resident of the U.S. and therefore isn’t required to file taxes and you can claim them as a dependent since they don’t live with you. But, you may want to talk to a tax professional to get more information about this.
4. Joint residence
Are you living with your spouse? Perfect! Let’s show that you are both on the lease agreement or mortgage documents. By signing on the dotted line of a home or apartment, it shows that you are thinking long term about your relationship.
But, for those of you who are living with family and have not lease agreement, get a letter from your landlord (family member) stating that you both live at the residence together and pay rent.
5. Child birth certificate
Creating another human being is a huge commitment to make with someone, right? Well, USCIS likes to see birth certificates of children born during your marriage.
If you choose not to have children, don’t worry, it won’t be a reason for denial but you better make sure you have additional evidence of bona fide marriage.
6. Joint utility bills
Although utility bills aren’t going to make or break you case, it’s a good idea to include them if you have them. Not only does it show that you live at the same house but it also shows that you share the household bills.
Some utility companies won’t allow more than one name on a bill. This is fine, just have each of you on a different bill. For example, your name can be on the water bill and your spouse’s name can be on the gas/electric bill.
7. Joint insurance
Including insurance documents with both of your names is important. Again, it shows co-mingling of your lives especially if you both hold life insurance policies on each other.
Health insurance coverage is also a great form of evidence to show you have a true marriage. If you’ve lived in America long enough, you know how expensive health insurance is and to put a spouse on your policy is a big deal.
I’ve even heard of people getting married just to get on each other’s health insurance policy!
Are you photogenic? Well, too bad because you have to take some pictures with your spouse! I know that some people hate taking pictures but it’s important to include a few.
Even better are the photos you take with other family members during the holidays. Nothing says bona fide marriage like spending time with the in-laws during thanksgiving and Christmas, right?
9. Affidavit friends/family
Although affidavits are not the best form of evidence, it can definitely help your case if you also include some of the ones we already talked about.
Affidavits from friends and family serve as a testament to how others see your marriage. I would think that everyone who submits an affidavit will send one that says good things about their relationship.
10. Emails, letters, cards
Finally, you want to include evidence that shows you have continuous communication. This may not be as big of a deal for those of you who live in the same household but for others in a long distance marriage, it’s vital.
Try to include several documents from the time that you met until today. You don’t need emails or call records for every single day but try to pick random months throughout the year.
USCIS wants to see that your communication involves talking about your future plans, family dynamics, birthdays, trips abroad, holidays and even day-to-day events such as work or making dinner.
Final Thoughts Top 10 Evidence Of Bona Fide Marriage
Okay, now be honest with me. Does that list seem so scary now?
I think that most people can come up with at least 8/10 evidence listed. Of course, the more evidence you include the better so if you don’t have certain evidence, create it!
After submitting the evidence, you can sit back and wait for USCIS to process your application. You can rest assured that you’ve submitted enough evidence of bona fide marriage to convince the adjudicator that your relationship is real.