30 Kinds of Evidence of a Bona Fide Marriage

by Green Card Holder

in Green Card Stuff


What Does USCIS Say About Evidence of a Bona Fide Marriage?

If U.S. immigration officials have a “secret formula” by which to judge the genuineness of a marriage, I certainly don’t know what that is.  I don’t think any couple going through the normal and lawful immigration process knows. However USCIS from instructions help give an idea what they consider good evidence to support a marriage or relationship.


Evidence of a Bona Fide Marriage - Gifts and Cards

Gift receipts and letters may help support other kinds of evidence of love and marriage. (Credit: www.sxc.hu/profile/michaelaw)

In the instructions for Form I-130 Petition for an Alien Relative, we read:

…. In addition to the required documentation listed above, you should submit one or more of the following types of documentation that may evidence the bona fides of your marriage;

E. Documentation showing joint ownership or property; or
F. A lease showing joint tenancy of a common residence; or
G. Documentation showing co-mingling of financial resources; or
H. Birth certificate(s) of child(ren) born to you, the petitioner, and your spouse together; or
I. Affidavits sworn to or affirmed by third parties having personal knowledge of the bona fides of the marital relationship. (Each affidavit must contain the full name and address, date and place of birth of the person making the affidavit, his or her relationship to the petitioner of [sic] beneficiary, if any, and complete information and details explaining how the person acquired his or her knowledge of your marriage); or
J. Any other relevant documentation to establish that there is an ongoing marital union.

NOTE: If you married your husband or wife while your husband or wife was the subject of an exclusion, deportation, removal or rescission proceeding (including judicial review of the decision in one of these proceedings), this evidence must be sufficient to establish the bona fides or [sic] your marriage by clear and convincing evidence.

The same kinds of evidence are cited in Form I-751: Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence.

Evidence We Used and Visa Forum Sources

As you’ll see, the evidences listed in this article are based on the USCIS specifications.

If you look at what others have done in visa forums, you may notice the same types of evidence are used often.  The list I’ve compiled for this article is based on what we presented and also what I’ve learned from these forums.

How did we manage this?  Well,  we simply used what we had.  During the visa process (leading up to the interview) we gathered more.  And we were fortunate to get my visa without any problem.  Naturally we amassed further proofs later when I got my green card and we began to raise our family in the U.S.  That we utilized for removal of conditions.

Warning / Disclaimer

Please don’t assume that just because you can come up with these proofs, that you are guaranteed a visa.  NO!  These are merely suggestions and do not guarantee anything!  No matter what documents you present, you could still get a request for more evidence — an RFE.

Now here it is. I grouped them into six categories: communication, visits, living together, finances, insurance, pictures and testimonies from others.  The items overlap. You are welcome to post comments as I’m sure everybody has his/her own tips and insights on this.

For an excellent guide to U.S. marriage-based visas, see Fiancee and Marriage Visas, a great book from NOLO. You can also check out the latest edition slated for release in August 2012.

1. Evidence of Communication Before and After Marriage

  1. Phone bills showing who called whom
  2. Letters
  3. Greeting cards
  4. Chat logs
  5. Emails / PM’s
  6. Delivery receipts (of gifts you send each other)

2. Evidence of Visits / Vacations / Meeting in Person

  1. Boarding passes
  2. Passport stamps
  3. Hotel receipts with both your names
  4. Vacation / honeymoon photos
  5. Receipts or bank statements showing remote ATM withdrawals (to show you were pulling money from that location at such time)

3. Evidence of Co-habitation During Marriage

  1. Birth certificates of any children born to you together
  2. Mortgage loan contract or lease contract with both partners’ names in it
  3. Utility bills with both partners’ names
  4. Receipts with both partners’ names in shipping/billing address
  5. Pictures of you two living together

4. Evidence of Joint Ownership of Assets and Shared Financial Responsibility

  1. Joint bank account statements
  2. Proof of joint credit card use
  3. Money transfer receipts
  4. Power of Attorney
  5. Wills (never used this)
  6. Utility bills
  7. Life insurance policy showing spouse as beneficiary
  8. Health insurance
  9. Car insurance

5. Photographic Evidence

  1. Photos of you two together
  2. Photos of you two with family (such as wedding, parties, kids’ graduation, etc.)
  3. Photos of you two in various locations and times

6. Evidence from Others in Support of Bona Fide Marriage

  1. Sworn affidavits of friends and/or family
  2. Letters/cards from friends and/or family

Thoughts on Gathering Evidence of a Bona Fide Marriage

It’s my firm belief that the best evidence of a bona fide marriage or relationship is time we spend together.  When we spend time with our husband, wife or fiance(e), we do things that “normal” couples do:  We take pictures, travel, have kids, meet family, share financial responsibilities and give each other presents.  A marriage based in real love should thus prove itself easily.

At the same time, we have to work with what we have.  One has to be realistic.  If you don’t have it, you can’t make it up.  For example, if you are newlyweds at the time of filing the I-130 petition, you naturally wouldn’t have much to show in the way of joint bank statements, co-habitation, etc.  Or if your in-laws don’t like you and refuse to meet with you in person, you’ll have to do without photos with them.  We were lacking in certain areas too.  We just made the best of what we had and kept as much proof as possible during the times we spent together.

Discussion on Proofs of Marriage for Visa and Green Card

There are all kinds of questions surrounding proofs.  I suggest you go to a visa message board like VisaJourney.com, read and ask questions in the appropriate forum.

You are welcome to post comments and share your own thoughts and experiences. :)

For an excellent guide to U.S. marriage-based visas, see Fiancee and Marriage Visas, a great book from NOLO. You can also check out the latest edition slated for release in August 2012.


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