When a United States national marries someone from another country, it is possible for them to live together in the United States. In order to do so, however, spouses must prove that theirs is a bona fide marriage. Keep in mind: The MORE documentation you can provide, the BETTER your case.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) specifically prohibits “Relationships entered into for purposes of evading immigration laws of the United States​.”

In order to satisfy USCIS, spouses carry the burden of proof in asserting the validity of their marriage. Please keep in mind that this applies to ANY legal marriage, whether it occurred in the US or overseas, and whether the couple is heterosexual or same-sex. Below is a list of some of the documents that USCIS will examine to make that determination:

  1. Marriage certificates

  2. Divorce or death certificates from previous marriages – Please note that the divorce or death must be BEFORE the date of the legal marriage. It does not matter where you get divorced or a former spouse dies – You must document this and have a certified copy or original of these documents

  3. Photos (not videos) of your wedding and a story-book of your relationship from the beginning – the more photos the better, with details

  4. Birthday cards, cards or emails that can help establish the length of your relationship

  5. Airline receipts and hotel bills from trips to see one another

  6. Mail sent to each person, at the same address, if you live together

  7. Credit card statements or receipts for birthday presents, holiday gifts, etc.

The steps you take to strengthen your case can turn out to be decisive factors in the adjudication of your petition. There are several options available to do this, such as:

  1. Filing joint tax returns

  2. Adding your spouse as the beneficiary to any accounts that are payable upon your death, such as retirement accounts or life insurance

  3. If feasible, enroll your spouse in your health care plan

  4. Get both of your names on the mortgage and deed of your residence

  5. If you are renters, get both names on the lease

  6. Make sure both names are also on utility, cable, phone and other bills

  7. Commingling of your finances is encouraged but not required

The final step in proving a bona fide marriage is the interview. USCIS can ask you any question, but it pays off to tell each other 50 things your spouse might not know about you, just in case, as well as keeping track of each other’s daily habits. Here are some real-life examples:

  1. In what manner did you meet?

  2. What are some of the places you went to on dates?

  3. How big was your wedding? What was on the menu?

  4. What is the other person’s daily work schedule?

  5. What does he/she like to eat for breakfast?

  6. Did you go out to eat last week? Where?

  7. What is your spouse’s favorite color? Sport? Hobby?

If a couple from two different cultures falls in love, then they should be together. The US offers so many opportunities, it is not surprising that a binational couple should choose to settle here. Getting through the immigration process can be difficult if one is not prepared, and as my mother used to say: You can never be too prepared.”

Isn’t protecting your marriage and future worth the investment of an expert?