Documenting a Bona Fide Marriage for USCIS

Congratulations! You’ve gotten married! But your spouse is a foreign national and you want to apply for their US legal residency. The first step is to collect the biographic documents (marriage certificate, birth certificate, divorce decrees, proof of lawful entry into the US, affidavit of support documents, etc.).

The next important step is to provide documents to demonstrate the authenticity of your marriage. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) scrutinizes marriage-based green card applications to ensure that they are genuine and not entered into solely to obtain immigration benefits or to evade the immigration laws of the U.S. A bona fide marriage is one that is entered into in good faith, without fraudulent intent, and with the genuine desire to build a life together at the time of marriage. To be successful in this process, documentation of your bona fide marriage is crucial. 

  1. Bona Fide Marriage Documents may include:
    • Joint lease or mortgage documents
    • Joint bank account statements
    • Joint utility bills (electricity, water, gas)
    • Auto insurance or health insurance policies listing both spouses
    • Designation of your spouse as a beneficiary in wills or life insurance policies
    • Power of attorney documents
    • Joint tax returns
    • Medical records listing both spouses, 
    • Documents regarding joint debts or liabilities.  
  2. Photographic Evidence: USCIS loves pictures! Compile photographs over the span of your relationship highlighting important events that you shared together. Alongside each piece of photo, provide a brief narrative that explains the context and significance of that photograph. Include pictures from:
    • Wedding ceremonies and celebrations
    • Family gatherings and holidays
    • Vacations and trips together
    • Make sure you are not only providing selfies! 
  3. Affidavits: If you do not have many documents, or there is a glaring omission of an important document, like a joint lease, obtain affidavits from friends, family, or colleagues who can attest to the authenticity of your marriage. These affidavits should detail how the person knows you as a couple, the nature of your relationship, and any observations they’ve made regarding your commitment to each other.

Successfully documenting a bona fide marriage for USCIS requires meticulous attention to detail and a comprehensive collection of evidence. Hiring an experienced immigration attorney to guide you through this process will dramatically increase the success of your spouse obtaining US legal residency and, eventually, US citizenship. Contact us at (954) 881-8820 or at [email protected] to schedule a consultation so we can assist you in this life journey.