There are many processes available to immigrants who desire becoming legal permanent residents in the U.S. Probably the most common process (but not always the easiest) is to apply for a green card through marriage. Not only is it difficult to come up with the required documents for an approval, but marriage green cards have the additional challenge of convincing the government that the relationship is real or “bona fide,” especially for short-term relationships.
For many decades the immigration system was subject to regular fraud attempts by those seeking green cards who would do it at all costs. Countless individuals have tried to fake relationships to get a green card and now the government is very careful to make sure each relationship is genuine. This is usually not a problem for applicants who have been in a relationship for several years, but what about those who only recently got married or who have only known each other for a matter of months? Is it possible to prove this to the government and get an approval? Absolutely!
There are two primary opportunities to prove that your marriage is authentic. First is by providing relationship documents in your initial petition and the second comes at the time of the in-person interview. My recommendation is to always focus on providing as much good information with the initial filing since this is the time that the government is most openminded about a case. If the agent needs to wait for the interview to be convinced of the authenticity of a relationship, this usually results in a denial of the request and possibly an invitation to speak to an immigration judge during your deportation case.
What sorts of documents do you need to show a bona fide relationship exists? Essentially, anything that can show the government you are more than just friends or conspirators in an attempt to commit immigration fraud. The best documents are those that prove you are living together and share financial obligations. Proving that you are in a strong relationship can also be done by providing evidence of trips together, providing snapshots of your relationship history (such as text messages or social media posts). Pictures of trips taken together are also very helpful, but even better are pictures of holiday events with other family members.
Another suggestion I give clients to help them prove the legitimacy of their marriage is by showing that they are doing long term planning to benefit their future lives together. Starting a family is always a very good way of proving your long-term commitment to one another, but it is also possible to accomplish this by joining finances. Nothing shows that you are in a committed relationship better than your willingness to risk your financial future with another person. I usually suggest adding your spouse to life insurance policies, bank accounts or even to your military profile. Any similar actions are great at showing your long-term commitment to each other.
On the flip side of this coin, there are warning signs that may exist in your relationship that could ruin your chances of showing a committed relationship even with a lot of combined financial documents. Some examples of red flags are: a large disparity in age, the inability of the couple to speak each other’s language, vast differences in cultural or ethnic backgrounds, family and/or friends being unaware of the marriage, arranged marriages through a third party, a marriage performed immediately following the beneficiary’s notice of deportation proceedings, not living together since the marriage began could be problematic as well as a strong history of the beneficiary being a friend of the family. Probably worse than these examples, however, is the prior history of your spouse filing previous petitions for other aliens, especially if those filings were for former spouses. Although these factors do not necessarily doom a green card petition, they can make an approval difficult to obtain without a lot of work and unwanted attention from immigration.
If you have any questions about your eligibility for a green card whether through a spouse or another family member, please contact our office today to schedule an appointment to discuss your situation at 616-805-3435.