I just got married to a U.S. Citizen, and I need to apply for my Green Card. How can I prove the validity of my relationship in such a short time?
NOTE: This blog is intended solely as a general reference information. It is not legal advice. We recommend you seek legal advice for your situation before relying on any of the information presented here.
This is one of the most popular immigration question. We find the answer to be straightforward: Honesty is key. There is a fine line between having a cookie cutter marriage translated into your evidence list and a marriage that results in fraud detection. Most applicants with honest marital union end up aligning their evidence with what is expected of them rather than staying honest to their situation.
Here is a practical scenario:
Mike married Susie a month ago, and Susie’s legal status is about to expire. They have been dating for nearly a year and cannot afford a wedding now, so they want to wait another year before celebrating their union, but they want to get married genuinely as soon as possible.
Some of the evidence they already have:
1. Photos and social media feeds streaming the span of their relationship.
2. Started to live together and both switched their addressed to the same location, but all the bills and lease are under only Mike’s name since she moved in with him.
3. They have friends and family happy to draft an affidavit of said knowledge of their genuine relationship, but the parents are not on board.
4. They have started to jump onto each other’s health, car, and life insurance.
5. They just opened a joint bank account, but lack to show sufficient activities.
6. Driver’s license reflecting the same physical address in common.
Some of the evidence they do not yet have but is often requested for this case type (as applicable):
1. Child/children-in-common’s birth certificate
2. Utility bills or any other statements showing the couple lives together and are sharing financial responsibilities.
3. Lease and or deed, as applicable, naming both parties
4. Adequate number of photos depicting time spent with each other’s family members.
5. Wedding pictures, evidence of wedding plans if the wedding has yet to take place, or honeymoon/dinner gathering in place of a large wedding ceremony.
6. Adequate history of financial mingling.
7. Communication record: email and phone calls.
8. Trust, estate planning, and or will.
Other unique issues that we need to work around:
1. No record that their parents are involved in their lives, the parents are not on board just yet for any reason.
2. Mike is often traveling abroad for an extended period for work and is rarely home.
3. Mike had a child outside of his relationship with Susie around the same time they were dating/getting married.
This couple will do just enough googling to see that they do not have enough of the required supporting documents and try to forcefully create each evidence in a short time. This makes their evidence appear fabricated, dry, and often fraudulent.
What then should they do?
The first thing we encourage our client’s to do is to make a profile of their relationship by drafting a list of what they do have that is NATURAL to their relationship history as well as ongoing marital relationship. We need just enough to show the officer, that will be assigned to the case, the relationship is honest. The time between when the application is filed to when the interview takes place can span many months allowing the couple to collect more ongoing evidence. This method will allow for a gradual growth of their marriage at a natural pace. Upon being called for the interview, they will take that new evidence with them and have it ready to present should the officer request for more evidence. This method has avoided subsequent interviews and allowed for many on-the-spot approvals.
We help our clients use a simple relationship balance chart to highlight their strength and weaknesses guiding them to take a closer look of their lives to supplement the weak points. By helping you keep your evidence accurate to your union and not as you think they should be will help validate your application. This method will keep you from coaching yourself into something that is not natural/true to your relationship, which will eventually show in your petition and in the way the interview conducts. Our clients often report their interview as swift and painless for these reasons.
Other methods commonly used to make sure that your list of evidences is sufficient is to document unique issues, such as the once mentioned above:
1. If parents are not involved because Mike married outside of his culture or nationality and they do not approve the marriage, he will retain record of emails and messages where this reason has been discussed. Another method is for siblings, close relatives, and or family friend to add an affidavit attesting to this issue showing that it is a natural issue in the family/culture as opposed to the parents genuinely trying to avoid fraudulent marriage.
2. If Mike travels often and possibly appears to stay away from home for a long period of time, the following evidence are naturally created and should be added:
a. Passport stamps showing visits to and from each other
b. Emails talking about bills, missing one another, and day-to-day issues such as “babe can you go to my sock drawer and get that document and scan it over to me, I need it ASAP.”
c. Bank funds wire
3. What about Mike’s infidelity: Well this is not a newly invented problem, many genuine relationships go through such turmoil, and it does not reflect fraudulent activity as much as it reveals common marital issues, unfortunately. We help our clients feel comfortable and make sure they do not feel judged. This gesture helps promote full disclosure exchange to assist their application process better. Often this could be explained away by a simple statement to get ahead of the situation, or show counseling record, or reconciliation efforts however it may apply to your case.
This article will only help if your marriage is a genuine one. It takes just one consultation for us to detect validity and the genuine nature of your relationship. We reserve the right to respectfully decline to take your case should we sense any measure of fraud. This very sense of professional intuition also helps us avoid valid marriages from appearing like a fraud due to poor advise from other applicants. We have seen individuals answer to the validity of their marriage all the way through naturalization. If you fall under fraud detection, there will be internal notes and flag points with the service that will follow your immigration journey until the end.
There are some other challenges which we will cover on our next article that will include a full scenario on the evidence often required for those who want to remove conditions of residence. Condition on residents is assessed for all marriages that have successfully processed a relative petition adjustment/consular processing through a spouse for marriages that are less than two years in length. Permanent resident status is issued to marriages that have spanned two years or more not requiring removal of conditions. Here is where you can go to read more about Green card for immediate relatives of U.S. Citizen.
Here are forms often associated with this process:
I-130, Petition for Alien Relatives
Form I-130A, Supplemental Information for Spouse Beneficiary (PDF, 960 KB)
Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status
Form I-864, Affidavit of Support Under Section 213A of the INA or Form I-864EZ, Affidavit of Support Under Section 213A of the Act or Form I-864W, Intending Immigrant’s Affidavit of Support Exemption or , Form I-864A Contract Between Sponsor and Household Member (whichever applies);
Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record
Form I-601, Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility (if applicable);
Form I-212, Application for Permission to Reapply for Admission into the United States After Deportation or Removal (if applicable);
Form I-612, Application for Waiver of the Foreign Residence Requirement);
If you currently hold A, G, or E nonimmigrant status, include Form I-508, Request for Waiver of Rights, Privileges, Exemptions and Immunities. Additionally, if you are a French national, you may also need to include Form I-508F;
Form I-566, Interagency Record of Request – A, G or NATO Dependent Employment Authorization or Change/Adjustment to/from A, G or NATO Status (only if you have A, G, or NATO nonimmigrant status); and
Form I-485 Supplement A, Adjustment of Status Under Section 245(i) (if applicable).