As a Miami immigration lawyer, I often receive questions from my marriage-based green card clients about how best to document their bona fide marriage (i.e. how to provide that their marriage is real). Unfortunately, there have been enough cases of fraudulent marriages to warrant extra attention and scrutiny from the USCIS. Below are some frequently asked questions, but they are by no means an exhaustive list of what to expect.
What kind of documents or artifacts do I need to prove that I’m in a real marriage?
As a Miami immigration lawyer, I must address the myth that all a couple needs are photos to prove that they are in a bona fide marriage. Photos alone are insufficient. You would benefit from including the following in your application package, including, but not limited to:
Proof of a shared financial life
- Proof of joint assets –These include car registrations, insurance, magazine subscriptions, club memberships, and the like. Have either of you named the other as a beneficiary on your health insurance or retirement plan? If so, your employer should be able to give you copies of these documents. Even letters from friends addressed to the two of you may help.
- Proof that both spouses are covered under same health insurance policy
- Proof that you live together (i.e. joint utility bills, cable bills, garbage bills
- Proof that your finances are joined – this includes a joint credit card, joint bank account, joint tax returns, etc.
If you have any questions in regard to providing proof of joint finances, you may want to speak with a Miami immigration lawyer to discuss your options.
Proof that you actively share a life together
The more these are included, the stronger and more convincing your applications becomes:
- letters or emails you wrote to each other, alluding to your relationship or your wedding plans
- receipts from trips you made to see each other, such as for airplane tickets or hotel bills
- copies of phone bills showing calls you made to each other
- photos of your wedding and other family events (but not videos, these take too long for the immigration authorities to view)
- cards or letters sent to both of you at the same address
- receipts for gifts (such as an engagement ring, flowers, or chocolate) that you have bought for each other
- birth certificates of children you’ve had or adopted together, or a doctor’s report stating that you are pregnant, or a fertility specialist’s report indicating that you are trying.
Again, if you have any questions in regard to this, please contact a Miami immigration lawyer to discuss your options.
Proof that you know each other intimately
This is what is known as “the marriage interview.” It is the final step in getting a green card, either the immigrant or both halves of the couple will need to attend an in-person interview with a consular or USCIS officer. There, the immigrant’s application will be reviewed, and you will be asked questions to test the validity of your marriage – such as what the color of your kitchen curtains are, who sleeps on which side of the bed, and what you did to celebrate your last birthday.
If either of you seems unable to answer the questions, you may be switched to meeting with the “fraud unit,” for what is called a “Stokes interview.” Each of you will then be separately asked an identical set of questions, and your answers compared to see how well they match up.
- Where and how did you meet?
- Where did you go on dates?
- How many people attended your wedding?
- What did you serve at your wedding (to eat or drink)?
- Do you have a pet? If so, who feeds it, what food, and when?
- Do you use contraception (birth control)? If so, what form?
- Who goes to work every day, and when?
- Do the two of you attend regular religious services? Where and when?
- Where did you go on your last vacation together?
This is by no means an exhaustive list of the questions that an immigration officer will ask you. If you have any questions in regard to this, you should speak with a Miami immigration lawyer.
If you need help
If you are having difficulty finding proof of your bona fide marriage, or are worried about attending the green card interview, consult Miami immigration attorney. A Miami immigration lawyer can help you figure out good forms of evidence and prepare the paperwork. If you are adjusting status (applying for your green card in the U.S.), the Miami immigration lawyer can also accompany you to your USCIS interview.
If you would like more information on proving that you have a bona fide marriage, please contact Miami immigration lawyer Michael G. Murray, Esq. at (305) 895-2500 or visit our website at murraysilva.com.