How do I show my marriage is real in a marriage based immigration petition? A United States citizen or Permanent Resident may file a petition for his or her foreign born spouse to become a permanent resident. The petition serves as a basis for the foreign-born spouse to get a “green card” – permanent residence – that allows the spouse to live permanently in the United States. To qualify to apply for a green card based on marriage, you and your spouse will need to show that you have entered into a “bona fide” marriage and that one of you is a United States citizen or permanent resident. You and your spouse must file a marriage-based petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) by submitting a Form I-130.
When filing a marriage-based immigration petition for a foreign-born spouse to live permanently in the United States, many questions may arise. This article will answer some of the most frequently asked questions. There are a few ways for a foreign-born beneficiary of a marriage-based petition to apply for a green card, including from inside the United States with USCIS, or outside the United States through a U.S. Embassy. Showing that your marriage is genuine and not just for immigration purposes is the main focus of the marriage-based petition
However, once the petition is approved, you will have to show that you are eligible to become a permanent resident of the United States, which involves additional steps. If you are unsure about the application process, or have questions regarding the marriage-based immigration process, make sure to give us a call or fill out this form to schedule a consultation:
Why Do I Have to Show My Marriage Is Real?
The U.S. allows foreign-born spouses to permanently move to the U.S. is because it wants to help the families of its citizens and permanent residents to be united together. In order to qualify for a green card based on marriage, your marriage must be officially recognized in the country or state where you are married.
Unfortunately, there are people that enter into marriages for the sole purpose of getting a green card, in essence controverting immigrations laws of the U.S. The U.S. government is aware that some people may try to evade immigration law by seeking permanent residence through marriage. As a result, when a couple files a marriage-based petition, they must show that the marriage is real or “bona fide”.
Who Decides Whether I Can Apply for a Green Card Based on Marriage?
You and your spouse will submit a marriage-based petition using Form I-130 and including your supporting documentation. The department that reviews these applications is called the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). An officer at USCIS will ultimately approve or deny the petition.
How Do I Show My Marriage Is Real?
You will have to turn in documents in order to show that your marriage is real or “bona fide”. These documents will be submitted with your Form I-130 and include:
- A copy of your civil marriage certificate. The best way to show that you are legally married is through a marriage certificate issued by a government entity. Be careful, as a certificate or a piece of paper from a church or a ship’s captain will not, on its own, be enough evidence to show that you are really marriage.
- A copy of all divorce decrees, death certificates, or annulment decrees that demonstrate that all previous marriages entered into by you and/or your spouse were terminated. You must prove that your spouse is currently your only spouse and that any prior marriages are no longer valid. Bigamy (marriage to more than one person) is illegal in the United States. Further, the government wants to make sure that your marriage is bona fide. If you are still married to another person, it is a warning to the U.S. government that you may be fraudulently trying to get your green card.
- Passport style photos of you and your spouse.
- Evidence of all legal name changes for you and/or your spouse (may include marriage certificates, divorce decrees, court judgment of name change, adoption decrees, etc.)
- Proof that you and your spouse live together.
Does Filing a Marriage-Based Petition Mean I Get a Green Card?
Not necessarily. An approved marriage-based petition serves as a basis for a foreign-born spouse to apply for permanent residence.
If you are married to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, and you are looking to apply for a green card based on your marriage, the marriage-based petition is one part of the process of applying for permanent residence. Even after you and your spouse show that you have a bona fide marriage, you will still need to show that you are eligible to become a permanent resident of the United States.
The process for applying for your green card based on your marriage can differ based on your personal immigration history, any prior violations of U.S. immigration law, any criminal charges, arrests, please, or convictions, where you are located and your travel needs. In some circumstances, the best course of action may be applying to Adjust Status to Permanent Resident using Form I-485.
In other cases, you may have to process through a U.S. Embassy, which is a different process. Choosing the right process for your marriage-based case is integral. An experienced immigration attorney can help you decide if you qualify for permanent residence, and if so, which application process is right for you.
What Will Happen During My Marriage-Based Green Card Interview?
Depending on the process you choose to apply for a green card based on marriage, you may be required to go to an interview at a USCIS office, or you may be questioned at a U.S. Embassy.
Couples who file a marriage-based petition and who submit an application for adjustment of status to permanent resident within the United States will be called to an interview at USCIS.
During your marriage-based green card interview, you will be asked questions intended to help the interviewing officer determine if you and your spouse have a bona fide marriage. Though there is not a list of specific questions that you may be asked, most of the questions will have to do with the relationship of you and your spouse. You will also be asked about your criminal history, immigration history, and travel history to determine if you are eligible to become a resident.
You and your spouse may be separated and questioned individually by the interviewing officer. If this occurs, the officer will review each of your responses. If your answers differ on some of the questions, the officer may take additional action, including having a fraud investigator visit your home to determine if you and your spouse are actually living together, issuing a Request for Evidence asking for additional proof of the relationship or clarification of the differing answers, or issuing a Notice of Intent to Deny your marriage-based petition asking for proof of the relationship and allowing only 30 days to respond. If this occurs, it is very important to have a specialized immigration lawyer help you submit a thorough response, or your petition may be denied.
If you have more questions about what will be asked or what will take place during your interview, be sure to call our law form or fill out a contact form here.
What If My Marriage-Based Case Is Denied?The USCIS will notify you in writing of its decision on your marriage-based petition. If the petition is approved, you will receive an approval notice. If it is denied, you will receive a denial decision notice explaining the reasons that your case has been denied. For example, the petition was incomplete, you did not respond to a Request for Evidence or Notice of Intent to Deny, or the evidence you provided or answers at your interview did not prove to the satisfaction of USCIS that your marriage is bona fide. A denial notice will also contain information about how to appeal, and when you must file the appeal.
In some cases, re-filing the petition rather than filing an appeal may be your best course of action. If you are re-filing your marriage-based petition, seek advice from an experienced immigration attorney to avoid additional problems with your case.
If you have recently received a denial letter from the USCIS, give our attorneys a call so that we can review your application with you and help you with your appeal.
The application process for a green card based on marriage is lengthy. Make sure to follow all directions and submit all documents that are required. If any information changes, such as your address, you should let the USCIS know so that it can update your application.
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