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What is a bona fide marriage for immigration purposes?

On Behalf of | Sep 17, 2021 | Immigration law

U.S. immigration law prioritizes keeping families together. Consequently, if you have married someone who is not a citizen of the U.S., you may be able to file an immigrant visa petition on his or her behalf. Your spouse may also be able to take advantage of a streamlined process for obtaining conditional permanent residency.

For immigration officials to approve your spouse’s immigrant visa petition, you must prove you have a bona fide marriage. While this term sounds technical and archaic, it simply means your marriage is genuine and not for the purposes of evading the law.

Protection against immigration fraud

Because U.S. immigration law fast tracks the process for those who marry U.S. citizens to become legal permanent residents, there is an incentive for some intending immigrants to enter into fraudulent marriages. Therefore, officers from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services must examine proof of marriage legitimacy as a safeguard against immigration fraud.

Evidence of bona fide marriages

Even though all marriages are different, most legitimate couples have a little problem proving their marriages are real. In addition to marriage certificates, the following evidence is typically persuasive:

  • Mortgages, deeds or rental agreements in both spouses’ names
  • Joint bank accounts, credit cards, utility bills and car registrations
  • Photographs of the couple together at different events
  • Affidavits from friends, relatives, coworkers, spiritual advisors or others

It may take time to gather the evidence you need to prove you and your spouse are in a bona fide marriage. Ultimately, by submitting overwhelming documentation of the intertwined life you live with your husband or wife, you boost your chances of receiving a quick approval of your spouse’s immigrant visa petition.