Documentation Proving Bona Fide Marriage

Obtaining permanent resident status through marriage starts with a petition that is filed by the U.S. citizen or resident spouse.  The purpose of the petition is to classify a spouse as the beneficiary and as an immediate relative, pursuant to section 201(b) (2) (A) (i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as amended. Often times the Petition for Alien Relative is filed concurrently with the Application to Adjust Status along with the application for travel document and work authorization. The key to obtaining permanent residency by this method is to successfully completing an adjustment of status interview. The purpose of this interview is to determine the following:

  1. The couple entered into a marriage that is a bona fide marriage. This means the marriage entails a genuine relationship between the two parties in fact and in law.
  2. The couple did not enter the marriage for the purposes of evading immigration laws. Although immigration can be a motivating factor, it must not be the sole purpose.

At the interview, the couple must submit various documents that help establish that the marriage is bona fide. These documents usually demonstrate the typical characteristics of a married couple including the sharing of assets and liabilities. Some clients have particulars circumstances surrounding the marriage that may make it difficult to provide documents that indicate a bona fide marriage. These situations often arise when a spouse does not have a social security number and thereby making it difficult to obtain documents or the marriage is so young that the couple does not have many shared assets and liabilities. Below is a good list of documents that may be submitted to provide a bona fide marriage. The list is not exhaustive and not all documents are applicable to each case. Consult with an immigration attorney to determine which documents are appropriate.

  • Receipts in both names for the purchase(s) including of wedding rings, furniture, cars, appliances, property
  • Home mortgage documents and/or leases in both names
  • Birth certificate of children born to the marriage
  • Bills and utility statements in both names including water bill, electricity bill, gas bill, cable/internet bill
  • Personal mail to the same address (not bulk mail)
  • Shared memberships to clubs, organizations, parties, affiliations
  • Shared contracts for purchases
  • Income tax records in the Form of IRS printouts or IRS certified returns showing married/joint filing
  • Insurance statements including life insurance, medical insurance
  • Cell phone accounts
  • Auto insurance
  • Cemetery plot deeds
  • Credit card statements
  • Bank Accounts
  • Saving Accounts
  • Investment accounts
  • Proof of joint ownership of a business
  • Proof of Travel itinerary
  • Photographs of differ shared events
  • Tickets/admission entrances to events

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