|March 5, 2009|
Previously published on Winter 2009
When a foreign national has married a United States citizen, that person can file for lawful permanent residency. If the foreign national made a lawful entry into the United States, even though they may no longer be legally present, they can adjust status which simply means they can obtain their residency without leaving the United States.
If you are fortunate enough to be in the final stages of adjusting your status based on marriage to a United States citizen, the final step in the adjustment of status process will be an interview with an officer of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) at a USCIS field office -- in Utah that would be in Salt Lake City.
One of issues that will be most closely scrutinized will be whether your marriage was entered into in “good faith”. If the officer concludes that the marriage was entered into solely to obtain immigration benefits (i.e. a “green card”) and that it is not a “real” marriage, a determination of marriage fraud will be made and the application will be denied.
So at the interview, you and your United States citizen spouse must be prepared to convince the interviewing USCIS officer that your marriage is a “good faith” marriage. The USCIS officer will want to see a great deal of documentation. What follows are examples of the kind of documentation the officer will be looking for. You may not have all the items mentioned, but you should provide as many as possible. Do not make the mistake of underestimating the importance of providing all that you possibly can! The USCIS takes the possibility of marriage fraud very, very seriously.
Evidence of the marriage itself
You will want to supply some evidence of the marriage itself, things like wedding announcements and pictures of the ceremony and any reception.
You will also need evidence that the marital relationship has continued, that you are indeed living together as husband and wife, that you have truly joined your lives together.
Documents showing joint ownership or responsibility:
There are a large variety of documents you may want to consider, things like titles to property, utility bills, rental leases or home ownership documents. The important thing is that the documents show that the property or liability is jointly owned or held.
Documents showing commingling or sharing of financial resources:
The USCIS interviewer will want to see evidence that you have shared financial resources, things like joint bank accounts, credit cards, insurance etc. Once again, the key is to have documentation showing that financial matters are indeed shared.
Finally, you should try to obtain affidavits from at least two or three people, preferably nonfamily members, who can attest to the either of the following (better yet if they can attest to both):
- They attended your wedding and/or reception.
- They have personal knowledge that you continue to live together in a marital relationship and describe why they believe that.
They would then have their statements notarized (i.e. Sign their statements in front of notary public).
Birth Certificates of any Children
Most USCIS officers consider having children together to be some of the strongest evidence of a “good faith” marriage!
Remember, these are just a sampling of the kinds of documents you will want to submit. And remember, that these will be needed at the interview, so you will usually have a few months after filing your application to put this all together.
You should also be prepared to talk about your marriage- how you met, your current family circumstances, etc.
Sometimes the interviewer will separate the two of you and ask each of you a variety of questions about things you should both know or be aware of- for example, what was the last movie you saw together? Or what did you have for dinner last night? Or where are the TVs located in your home? Etc. The interviewer will then compare your answers.