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Examples of Bona Fides to Prove Marriage

August 15, 2022
Marjorie M. Filice

When filing a marriage-based immigration case, a couple must generally provide evidence that they have a bona fide marriage. A bona fide marriage is one that is entered into in good faith for legitimate reasons, and not solely for the purpose of obtaining a green card or evading U.S. immigration laws. A marriage certificate provides evidence that the marriage is legal but doesn’t prove the marriage is bona fide as is required to petition a spouse. USCIS requires proof to confirm both parties entered the marriage in good faith. Generally, the more documentation a couple can provide, the better.

Clients frequently ask for examples of documentation, so below you will find a comprehensive list. None of these individually are required to show good faith, and good faith marriages can look different for different couples. For example, some couples do not have children, cohabitate, or merge finances. In those cases, individuals and their attorneys will need to get even more creative to show the marriage is bona fide. Consider these examples when determining what documentation you have for your own relationship.

  • Evidence of Cohabitation
    • Deed to property showing both spouses
    • Mortgage or loan documents showing both spouses
    • Lease agreement showing both spouses
    • IDs from each spouse showing the same address
    • Bank statements showing the same address
    • Voided/cancelled checks showing the same address
    • Utility bills (such as electricity, cable, internet, cell phone, gas, trash, water, etc.) showing same address
    • Property insurance agreements or statements showing the same address
    • Health or life insurance statements showing the same address
    • Other types of mail showing the same address
    • Affidavits from friends, family, neighbors, or landlords stating that the couple lives together
  • Evidence of Raising Children Together
    • Birth or adoption certificate showing both spouses’ names as parents
    • Evidence of relationship such as photos, affidavits, emails, or other documentation
    • Medical or school records showing parent relationship
    • Ultrasounds, fertility treatments, or other evidence of current or planned pregnancy
  • Evidence of Joint Finances
    • Bank statements for joint checking, savings and/or credit card accounts
    • Tax returns filed jointly as a married couple showing both names
    • Life insurance policy or will showing spouse as beneficiary
    • Voided/cancelled checks showing joint account
    • Documents showing joint ownership of property, car(s), or investment accounts (such as mutual funds)
    • Joint insurance policy information
    • Utility bills showing both names
    • Copies of bank statements from separate accounts demonstrating that both parties share financial responsibilities for the household
  • Evidence of the Relationship
    • Photos of wedding, honeymoon, holidays, or other vacations and events
    • Evidence of wedding-related expenses such as caterer, photographer, venue, etc.
    • Travel history for joint trips, such as plane reservations or hotel booking information
    • Receipts for gifts purchased for each other
    • Phone and text records showing communication
    • Social media records (screenshots) showing relationship
    • Birthday or other types of cards

If you need any assistance with a marriage-based immigration case or have other questions, please call Minsky, McCormick & Hallagan at (312) 427-6163 to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced immigration attorneys.

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