EVIDENCE FOR FILING FORM I-751
There is one main reason why marrying a U.S. citizen is a comparatively quick way for a foreigner to obtain a green card. This is because the UCSIS doesn’t have a cap on the number of marriage-based green cards annually, as occurs with either type of family-based green card application. This doesn’t mean it is a simple process, as the U.S. government is fully aware that there are those that take part in marriage vows to escape returning to their own country, rather than as a result of a forming of a genuine bond.
Going through marital problems? Be sure to read our Blawg post: Filing for Naturalization or a Green Card When Your Marriage is Shaky.
Going through a divorce? Read about the 2013 I-751 Waiver Memo.
Apart from the possibility of a prison term for anyone caught abusing the green card marriage facility, the U.S. government does have checks and balances in place. One of these is the submission of an I-751 petition after 2 years of marriage. If the marriage at the time of the green card application has been within 2 years of this application, the green card will only be valid for 2 years.
Recently married couples are often very busy people and when it comes to filing the I-751 petition they may overlook the instructions. These are mainly to do with providing sufficient proof of the marriage. If this is not provided it may be necessary to attend another green card interview to prove their marital status.
Documents proving marriage:
Some people will assume that the marriage certificate is enough to prove the legitimacy of marriage but immigration judges and USCIS adjudicators are not after that at all.
They prefer the following documents that stretch over the previous 2 years.
- Tax returns that have been filed jointly;
- Bank statements from joint accounts;
- Medical and life insurance documents for the couple;
- Proof of joint vehicle registration;
- Joint ownership of a property;
- Affidavits from witnesses of the relationship;
- Birth certificates of babies born;
- Joint power, water and phone bills.
In summary, the couple must prove that they live under the same roof and share their lives together. There are other less formal types of evidence that can be used such as proof of shared holidays including airline tickets and hotel bookings. This includes letters from friends and relatives that are jointly addressed. The envelopes carry as much weight as the letter content.
Do not underestimate your burden of proof in an I-751! The biggest mistake you can make is thinking, “We’ve done nothing wrong, and we’re in love with each other, so we have nothing to hide.” If you file a case with a lot of holes, don’t expect USCIS or an immigration judge to fill in the blanks the way you would.
The best thing to do is set up a folder at the beginning of the 2 year period so that useful evidence can be added throughout the time. A portfolio of photographs covering the two years showing you together is a great hit with immigration officials including of course wedding photos. They shouldn’t be necessarily formal but ones illustrating the things that you have done together over the two years. If all the evidence shows you have an active, true relationship then the green card marriage will be approved.
If you are concerned about where you stand in relation to your green card marriage, contact an immigration attorney who will walk you through the process.