The ULTIMATE Guide To Proving Your Marriage Is Real To USCIS!

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The ULTIMATE Guide To Proving Your Marriage Is Real To USCIS!

Welcome to the Ultimate Guide for Proving to USCIS that your marriage is real. When you are applying for a marriage via screen card, it is pretty much the immigration officer's job to right away assume that your marriage may not be real and they will look for reasons to deny your green card on the assumption that your marriage may be fake. So it is up to you to organize, collect, and present so much evidence that the immigration officer will be left with no doubt that your marriage is real. And it is up to you to answer questions in the way that is the most reasonable for immigration officers to approve your case.

Let's start with one of the most compelling forms of evidence that you can provide in your case - joint taxes.

Filing taxes together with your spouse shows to USCIS almost undeniable proof that you and your spouse have combined your financial lives because when you file a joint tax return, it shows to the US government that you want to be seen as a married couple filing jointly. It can also make each other legally responsible for each other's tax liabilities, which is another form of showing to USCIS that you are in a good faith marriage. This is the level of financial dependence on each other that immigration likes to see.

So once you are married, you will want to stop filing taxes separately and start filing jointly as soon as possible. And to make your case even stronger, you want to make sure that you are filing your taxes jointly with your spouse for every single year of marriage that you are in until you get your US citizenship. Why? Because USCIS is not looking simply to see whether or not you've checked off one box in order to file your case.

They want to see continuing co-mingling of your finances and assets and liabilities with your spouse up until the day that you get approved and even beyond because they want to see that you're continuing to join your lives together and to collect evidence because most couples will do this when it is a real relationship. So if you did not file your taxes jointly, the IRS allows you to make such amendments for up to three years prior to the date of the current tax year. Now, a lot of immigrants say that the reason why they cannot file joint taxes with their spouse is because they lack a social security number.

However, you don't need to have an actual social security number to file joint taxes. You can apply for something called an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, also known as the ITIN, and the IRS will accept this in lieu of a social security number for the purposes of a joint tax filing. In order to get your ITIN number issued, you need to submit a form of identification, tax return, and a form and you will be issued an ITIN number within seven to eleven weeks.

Next, the other most important piece of evidence that you can provide to USCIS is proof and evidence of your cohabitation, aka proof that you are actually living in the same place as your spouse. If you are buying a home together and you have proof of any of this, including a deed or a mortgage statement or home insurance, this is very strong proof that you've lived together. Similarly, if you rent an apartment together, you can ask for a copy of your joint lease or you can even ask for your landlord to amend the lease to add you as an occupant if the landlord is unable to add you to the lease as the primary lease holder. In other cases, if you don't have a joint lease, you can ask your landlord to provide an affidavit of joint residency to prove that they're in the landlord and also to prove that you are occupants in their apartment.

Similarly, if you are not renting but living together with family members or parents, again you can also ask them for a letter or affidavit of joint residency. And one of the things that I like to do in my office is to ask for that person to provide proof that they are the primary lease holder or the owner of that location when submitting this affidavit so that we can add additional proof to that statement. And if your spouse doesn't live here and they live abroad and you are unable to share a residence because of this distance, you can focus on other types of evidence to show an ongoing relationship such as screenshots of the communication between the two of you, financial remittances sent to each other to support each other, plane or other transportation tickets to travel back and forth to show how the relationship is being kept intact, photographs of the two of you with each other during trips to visit each other, and letters of support from family and friends.

Now if you have seen my other videos, you will already know that this can be a red flag to USCIS. If you are not living in the same location as your spouse, you must be ready with evidence to prove why it is necessary for you to live apart. When a person might be enrolled in college or a master's degree or be in the military, usually these are good reasons and good explanations to show why you may not be living in the same location currently.

However, if your spouse is not living with you for other reasons such as needing to take care of a family member or because of a job situation, sometimes this may be less persuasive to USCIS. Thus, you must do as much as you can to document your relationship otherwise and to show how the relationship is being kept intact and how your lives are being commingled because this will be the number one question that immigration will have and you will likely get either a request for evidence or an interview because of this.

Now the next most important thing that you can show to immigration to show that your marriage has been made in good faith is any sort of joint bank accounts or joint credit card accounts. Similar to tax filings, these are the sort of accounts that are difficult to do and people would not do unless they were serious about being with each other and about having a life together. Bank accounts and joint credit cards show a financial commitment to each other and to the marriage.

However, they would really only help your case if both you and your spouse are regularly using these accounts, regularly making deposits, and regularly making transactions on both sides. Sometimes I have seen people give me a bank statement where there was only one initial deposit made at the start of marriage and there have literally been no other transactions since then. This again is going to come off to USCIS as you're just simply checking off a box and not really using this account for the purpose of your established marital life together and it will end up being less persuasive to USCIS and may even bring up a red flag to immigration if you are not actually regularly using these accounts.

Also do note that if you and your spouse are not living in the same country then joint accounts are notoriously difficult to get and it may not even be possible to add your spouse to your accounts as an authorized user. A lot of banks require both persons to show up in person with acceptable forms of identification and even if your spouse is in the U.S. they may not be able to open an account with you because of their lack of a social security number. However, there may be some financial institutions that allow you to open a bank account with either an ITIN or a foreign passport.

If you are trying to open a joint bank account and are unable to do so then ask around and check with other banks. Otherwise one of the things that I do tell my clients is if you are totally unable to open a bank account right now because of your lack of a social security number then wait for your work permit to arrive and as soon as you get that work permit go ahead and open those joint accounts that you prevented from doing so before because even then that will show a good faith effort on your part to show how you are trying to commingle your lives together.

The next type of evidence might be common sense but it's also one of the strongest types of evidence which are babies. If you and your spouse have children together during the course of your marriage or during the course of your relationship before getting married this is going to serve as very strong proof of your bona fide relationship. However, I would say don't just rely on proof of your children together to end the story of whether or not your marriage is real.

Immigration officers are still frequently going to want to see other types of evidence. However, people in a fake marriage usually don't go as far as to have children together so if you do have children together this is going to serve you as very strong proof of your good faith marriage.

Some ways to prove that you and your spouse have children together are going to be obviously a birth certificate of the child listing both of you as the parents or an adoption certificate if you have proactively adopted your spouse's children or even medical records from a doctor to show that you are pregnant if your children have not actually arrived.

Okay, this next piece of evidence can really tip the scales in favor of your case and that is having joint insurances. When you and your spouse share joint insurance policies it really shows the USCIS that you and your spouse are acting in a manner that shows that your marriage is permanent because it shows that you're making long-term plans with each other. It's so important that USCIS policy manuals even say that joint insurances carry more weight than other documents such as photographs, travel documents, and affidavits all of which we are going to discuss in just a minute.

So do what you can to get joint insurance policies for both you and your spouse in as many categories as possible including home insurance, renter's insurance, life insurance, auto insurance. It's okay to not include all these but if you can make that effort to acquire at least one insurance policy together that will go a long way in your case.

Now before I go any further if you have been finding this video helpful please give me a subscribe and follow because I do my best to bring you this information so that you can get approved. It is my mission to help educate as many people as possible because not everyone has access to a good experienced attorney.

Now if you already have certain insurance policies before you get married, after you get married sometimes you can simply call up your insurance agent and add your spouse to the account. And also keep in mind that if you have previously had certain insurance policies where you name others such as your mom or your dad or your brother or sister as beneficiaries or even your ex-spouse as beneficiaries now is the time to make sure you update those accounts to add your current spouse as a beneficiary on these accounts because otherwise that may not be looking so good. And if you already have car insurance now would be the time to start shopping around for additional policies that have better rates of coverage for both you and your spouse.

And if you get health insurance through your employer make sure you update your records with HR to add your spouse as an insurance beneficiary. There is a special 60-day enrollment period after you get married where you can add your spouse to your account and it's something that you should be able to do even if your spouse lives abroad or does not have a social security number. However, check to see what is required. Okay now that we have covered some of the strongest and primary forms of evidence we're going to talk about what I call secondary evidence or soft evidence. Keep in mind that diversification of your evidence is key because USCIS doesn't want to see just one type of evidence. It's critical to at least add in some of this softer evidence so that you have a variety and you round out the details of your marriage.

Before we get into that I want to let you know that my name is Moumita Rahman. I have been practicing immigration law for the past 14 years. If you would like my help on your immigration case call us at 212-248-7907 to schedule a case evaluation. I'm based in New York City but we work with clients all over the United States.

The next form of evidence that you should definitely be collecting are joint bills. Bills can come in so many forms and there are many accounts where you may be able to add your spouse as a joint account holder such as your cell phone bill, streaming services, child care services, a gas card, cable and internet, news subscriptions among others. If you are already paying for these services on a regular account then look into seeing whether you can add your spouse as a joint account holder.

Sometimes you may not be able to add them as a joint account holder but you can add them as a user and while that is not as strong as having both of your names on the account it still serves as some little bit of proof that you are combining your lives together. If it proves too difficult to get both of your names account then maybe you can do one more thing which is to have some of the bills addressed to you and some of the other bills addressed to your spouse. That way you can also show that you're both still living in the same location and this way you'll have mail in both of your names going to the same house. What I like to tell clients is keep a box by your door as soon as you get any mail that comes in both of your names or to each other.

Toss it into that box that way you don't have to do too much hard work later when it's time to get ready for your interview or your case. And similarly if you are going paperless in your bills I say to take an hour every single month to organize all of your documents on your computer and download the statements from your accounts. That way when it's time to file your case or get ready for your interview you're not spending hours frantically trying to download all of your statements.

Next let's talk photographs. As with cell phone bills and affidavits photographs are considered a secondary or softer form of evidence. However they are still very important to include and I would say that they're more important to include than a joint cell phone bill but we'll get to that later. Pictures are your opportunity to paint your lives together and to demonstrate to USCIS all of the various things that you and your spouse have done, how you have interacted with each other's families, and how you have celebrated and lived your life together on a daily basis. But it's easy to get carried away and to send too many photographs so my general rule of thumb is only 50 to 100 pictures and please please do not send intimate pictures of you and your spouse together.

Do not send pictures of you and your spouse together in bed. Do not send pictures of you and your spouse together without clothes on. Immigration officers have even told me that they consider these to be a sign of fraud because it seems like you're trying too hard to show to immigration that your marriage is real. So when putting together your selection of pictures, don't include these sorts of pictures but instead choose photographs that show both of you together at the same time in all the photos and include selections that show the progression of your relationship including from first dates or early dating history to the marriage to honeymoon and also to how you have celebrated holidays together.

Make sure to include some pictures with families. Immigration loves to see this and will also ask if you have ever met each other's families so photographic evidence of meeting each other's families and spending time with your in-laws is going to be an important part of your photographic evidence. You want the USCIS officer to be able to easily understand how your relationship has progressed and what activities you guys like to do together and what your daily life may look like.

I also like to include pictures from different holidays and different seasons because visually a picture of the Christmas tree in the background versus a picture of cherry blossom trees is going to show progression of time. Now what if you have a spouse that does not like to take photographs? What will USCIS think? My advice is to have a heart-to-heart with your spouse and ask them to please for the sake of the case to get over it a little bit and do these pictures because immigration is very old-fashioned and photographs are going to be very good proof to help both of you not waste time and money in the case and not get a denial.

Now if you don't have a lot of photographs together that may be okay but if you have zero photographs together then that will be a red flag to immigration. And finally when sending in your photographs I personally like to send in four by six sized photographs however you can also put everything together on a pdf where you put two photographs to a page. You don't necessarily have to get them printed in color but color always helps because again you want to illuminate the story of your marriage.

Next, perhaps in the same category as photographs is social media. If you have posted photographs of the two of you together, friends commenting or people liking the photos, you can print these out and include them as evidence of your marriage especially if you have posted publicly pictures of your engagement or wedding. This is going to be good evidence to show to immigration that not only have you entered into a marriage but you have made it public knowledge amongst your friends and this is going to serve as further proof that your relationship is bona fide.

And while we are on the topic of social media, make sure you update your accounts. It definitely won't look good if your profile is still saying that you're single or that it's complicated. Make sure you update your accounts to show that you are married or in a relationship and if you don't ever post about your spouse that may also come off as a red flag. So number one, make sure that your accounts are updated. Number two, make sure that your accounts have an appropriate number of references to your marriage. And number three, if your profiles are public, double check all of these things and consider making your accounts private and reconsider accepting friend requests from people that you don't know because you never know if that is an immigration officer trying to do extra scrutiny on your case. If an immigration officer has access to your accounts, they will look at everything closely and they may find evidence not just of your marriage, possibly not being real, but of other immigration violations.

Make sure you watch one of my previous videos regarding this topic.

Next, some other evidence that you can collect is correspondence. If you and your spouse have had a history of writing to each other, whether through text messages or through actual letters or sending greeting cards to each other, this is also going to serve as nice secondary evidence. You can collect holiday cards, birthday cards, love letters, or other notes and use this as evidence.

You can also screenshot histories of messages between each other, but I would say that screenshots are kind of less persuasive to officers, so don't go overboard. But if you want to, you can take screenshots of mundane things like what's for dinner or we're out of shampoo, can you pick some up along the way. This shows that you're having the type of normal, boring interactions that pretty much most of us married couples do.

Another type of evidence that you may be able to use are affidavits from friends or family members that have been a witness to your relationship. Even though these are not the most compelling for immigration officers because affidavits are considered to be self-serving, they are still valuable proof when you have nothing else. And especially where these are made underneath a penalty of perjury or are notarized, then the evidentiary proof of these statements are bolstered even further. When asking someone to write a letter of support for you, ask them to include information on how they know the two of you, how they know that their relationship is real, what time they have spent with you and your spouse to see you interact as a normal married couple, for how long they have known the two of you, and of course, if your friend or family member wants to write it in a language other than English, make sure to get it translated.

Finally, there are all sorts of miscellaneous information that you and your spouse can collect even if you are not living in the same country. Some of these examples include plane tickets, hotel reservations, receipts of outings together, anything related to your wedding including vendor contracts, receipts, purchase orders, wedding cards, and of course, your marriage certificate. Pet documentation including vet bills where both of your names are listed as a pet owner. Assigning each other's emergency contact on doctors bills or other locations. Updating your driver's licenses to show that you are both at the same address. Co-borrowing or co-signing on loans together. Naming your spouse as the beneficiary on your pension plan. Putting each other in each other's wheels. Listing your spouse as a beneficiary upon death on your bank accounts. Updating your employment records to show an update or change in your marital status. Receipts and records of gifts that you have sent to each other. Phone records to show how often you talk to each other. Shared membership cards for places such as Costco or Sam's Club. Documents showing involvement in the same religious organization. Receipts and records of money that you have sent to each other from abroad. Receipts from large purchases such as furniture or electronics. And any documentation showing involvement in the lives of each other's children.

This list is just a few things that you may be able to include as additional evidence in your case. Now sometimes clients ask can I include a copy of my prenup and I say you can but why bring that up to immigration if you don't have to. Instead focus on the other more positive evidence that can help your case. Even though there is nothing wrong with a prenup my fear is always that immigration officers will simply not understand the benefit and value of a prenup and they may use it against you to harass you further about how your marriage is not real. So be creative and think of the other ways that you can show the legitimacy of your marriage.

And remember that while you do not need all of this evidence the more you have the better. Make sure you collect enough evidence to send with your application and make sure you continue collecting evidence up until the date of your interview or your approval. And keep in mind just because you have gotten your green card is not the end of your obligation to prove to immigration that your marriage is bona fide. Here are two reasons why you should still continue to collect a good amount of evidence from the future. Number one if you receive a two-year residency card you will want to show proof of your marriage up until the day that you get approved for your 10-year card.

And next even if you have received a 10-year residency card you may decide to use the three-year rule to apply for citizenship earlier because you are married to a U.S. citizen and in those cases immigration may still ask you for additional proof of your bona fide marriage up until the date that you naturalize. So don't just discard all of your obligations and think you're off the hook. Make sure you continue to maintain evidence of your marital life until you are done with immigration. Start early, make it a habit to do accounts together and make it a habit to collect and organize your evidence.

That way you will be ready and in good shape when you have to file.

And no matter how much USCIS may want to deny your case you'll be in a much stronger position to refute any allegations that your marriage is not bona fide. And as always make sure your marriage is real. If you are actually entering into a marriage only for the purpose of getting a grade card that by definition is considered to be a fraudulent marriage and you want to think twice before submitting any applications on this.

Collecting evidence is not the only job that you're going to have. You also need to prepare for the actual interview itself. It's important for you to learn what immigration officers like to ask you about and be prepared.

Fortunately I cover all these in my latest video which I will link to here. Click on the link and watch that video next. I'll see you there.

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