How To Prove A Good Faith Marriage For I-751 To USCIS
If you’re attempting to remove the conditions on your 2 year green card without your spouse, it’s likely you’ll need to prove a good faith marriage to USCIS. This means that you will need to show that you entered the marriage for love and not just for immigration benefits.
This is where most conditional residents fall short. They don’t understand what USCIS is looking for when determining whether someone is committing immigration fraud.
So, this post will clue you in on exactly what documents you should submit to self-petition for a 10 year green card without your spouse. It’s not going to be easy but if you submit most of the evidence suggested you have a good chance at removing conditions on your green card.
Learn more about filing I-751 with a hardship waiver after divorce.
Izzy married Jonathan who is a U.S. citizen. After 22 months, they realized that they are not compatible and she found out that Jonathan has been cheating on her with his ex since they got married. She filed the divorce papers soon after but now worries about removing conditions on her 2 year green card which will expire in less than 90 days.
She decides to submit the I-751, Removal of Conditions application with a hardship waiver. After doing some research she believes that she has enough evidence to submit the hardship waiver without an attorney.
In the case above, Izzy will need to show proof that she married Jonathan in good faith. What does this mean? Well, it means that she needs to convince USCIS that she truly married him for love and was planning a long happy marriage together.
Sounds a bit tough to prove, right? Thankfully, the list of documents to prove good faith marriage can easily be gathered. We’ll go over each piece of evidence you should include with the hardship waiver.
Proof That You Lived In The Same Home
One major form of evidence to prove a good faith marriage for the I-751 is a shared home. It doesn’t need to be a home you purchased together but instead, that you both live at the same residence at the same time.
This can include an apartment lease or mortgage documents showing both names on the property. You can also include mail that is sent to both you and your spouse jointly.
Why does a shared home matter so much?
To USCIS it shows that you lived together as a married couple. If you got married and then immediately moved to another state for a job offer, you will have a hard time proving that you married for love because USCIS will assume that most newly married couples will want to live together.
It will be up to you to prove that you intended to live together but that the move was only temporary.
If only one spouse is on the lease or mortgage, then you should provide a lot of additional evidence of a good faith marriage.
Proof That You Have Children Together
Having children together can be a great way to show you married in good faith. Most people who are committing immigration fraud will do their best to avoid having children with someone they only married for a green card.
Of course, just having children together doesn’t mean that’s all you need to include with the hardship waiver. It’s just a strong addition to your overall application which shouldn’t be overlooked.
If you have adopted your spouses child, that is also fine. Just include proof of the legal adoption papers as well as school or medical records showing you as their guardian.
Children that haven’t been born yet will complicate things because it’s hard to prove that it’s your child or your spouse’s child. You can include a statement that you are expecting a child sometime in the future and show evidence of the pregnancy.
Finally, not having children together doesn’t mean that USCIS will automatically suspect immigration fraud. No one is forced to have children together and they understand that. Just be sure to include a lot of other evidence of a good faith marriage.
Evidence Of Joint Financials & Taxes
Money is really important in a marriage and how you handle it together is more so! USCIS knows that couples who share a joint bank account or file jointly generally are married in good faith.
Think about it…
Would you share a bank account with your friend or neighbor? Heck no! But many people are more comfortable having a joint bank account with their spouse to pay bills together.
Types of joint financial documents to include:
- Joint bank accounts
- Joint investment accounts
- Joint savings accounts
- Joint credit cards
- Joint taxes returns
Not having these types of accounts together can be a huge red flag even if you have legit reason why you don’t.
I know of one couple where the U.S. citizen spouse owes over $10k in back taxes so they choose not to share a bank account or file taxes jointly. This is to protect the other spouse from IRS garnishments. If you are in this type of situation, you could include a letter explaining this but don’t count on USCIS letting you off the hook if the rest of evidence you have is minimal.
Evidence Of Joint Insurance
Although joint insurance isn’t as strong as joint finances, it’s still important to include them. Below is a list of insurances that you can use to show good faith marriage:
- Health insurance
- Life insurance
- Car insurance
- Home insurance
You may not have all of the above but the more you can include the better. Even if some of these insurance documents are in each spouse’s name separately, as long as they are delivered to the same residence that will work.
Evidence Of A Shared Life Together
This should be the easiest evidence to produce, but you would be surprised how many people can’t come up with family photos or trips together.
Had a recent birthday party thrown for you or your spouse? Submit the photos for it. Show that you two have planned and gone on trips together. What about holiday celebrations? Include proof of gifts given to each other over the years.
Basically, you can include simple daily things that show you had a real good faith marriage. Most couples can come up with several of these types of documents and evidence pretty easily.
- Photos together
- Photos with each other families
- Gift receipts
- Letters to each other
- Text messages and emails
- Trips made together
- Life goals that were written down
Affidavits, Letters and Mail
Affidavits are simply letters written by people who know you and your spouse personally. They can be included as evidence to show that people around you knew of your good faith marriage.
I would consider this secondary evidence because it’s not as strong as what we discussed earlier. But if you can have close friends or family member write a detailed affidavit of what they thought of your marriage, you should definitely include it with the I-751 hardship waiver.
Letters that are addressed to you and your spouse can also be used as evidence of good faith marriage.
Types of letters to include:
- Holiday card
- Wedding invitations
- Birthday party invites
- Baby announcements
Family Name and Photographs
Taking your spouse’s name isn’t required in the United States but often times it’s customary. If you did take your spouse’s name you can include documents showing that you both have the same last name.
If you chose not to take your spouse’s name, don’t worry about it. It isn’t considered strong evidence but just an extra thing to include with the I-751 hardship waiver.
We’ve talked about how important photographs together are so try your best to include them as much as you can. I understand that some people are just not comfortable getting their photo taken but it’s really important to show good faith marriage.
Taking photos with each others families is also a great idea. Not only does this show that you share a life together but it shows that your families know of your marriage and approve of it.
Final Thoughts On How To Prove Good Faith Marriage
To prove a good faith marriage for I-751 removal of conditions application, you must show that you marriage for love and not just for a green card. Most people who have lived with their spouse for a long enough period of time have accumulated a good number of these joint documents already.
Even if you and your spouse prefer to keep everything separate, I always recommend creating some of evidence of joint accounts or documents. You can always choose to separate your finances in the future when you are done with USCIS.
You may be thinking “I don’t want to just make up evidence for USCIS.”
I don’t see it as making up evidence at all. It’s required to prove a good faith marriage so it’s in your best interest to have this type of evidence. Personally, my husband and I immediately joined our finances after getting married.
First, we wanted to keep things simple and share paying the bills, saving for the future and investing. Second, I knew that I would need evidence of a good faith marriage when it came time to remove conditions on my 2 year green card.
If you don’t have enough evidence, there is a risk that your I-751 may be denied. Especially if you haven’t been married very long and haven’t lived with each other. If your evidence is very weak, you may need help trying to find other ways to prove you married for love and not just for immigration benefits.
Worried about not having enough evidence of a good faith marriage, sign up for premium case support to have your documents reviewed.
Ayan is the founder of the Migrant Academy community, the My Path To Citizenship Blog and Podcast.
After successfully navigating the hurdles of US immigration. She now dedicates her time to helping other couples achieve their goals of starting their new life together in the US.