Essential Documents for a Successful Marriage Green Card Petition
Marriage is an important life event for many people and a cause for celebration. For some couples, it is even more than that because it means that they will be able to file a Marriage Residency Petition with USCIS, if one spouse has Residency (Green Card) or Citizenship and the other does not. While this can provide the newly-weds with an acute sense of relief, particularly if one of the spouses has been out of status for years, doing so also means that you will be placing your marriage under the USCIS’ microscope, which may cause even the strongest of marriages to experience some difficulties.
Immigration law requires that the U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident show that their marriage to the immigrant is bona fide. This means convincing USCIS that the marriage was not solely for an immigration benefit. If USCIS concludes that the marriage was solely for an immigration benefit, then the petition will not only be denied, but USCIS will never be permitted to approve a residency petition for the beneficiary through any family or employment category. Therefore, it is essential that the proper documentation must be provided to USCIS in support of the Marriage-based Green Card petition.
When evaluating a marriage-based Residency petition, Form I-130, USCIS is looking for evidence of two primary points: the couple is living together and the couple has joined their financial lives. Generally, the following types of documents are most helpful in establishing these points:
- Monthly statements from a joint bank account, which show all of their income is deposited into that account, that all employers are using a “direct deposit” link to that account, and that both spouses are using that account to pay for all living expenses (ideally all other accounts should generally be closed);
- Insurance policies in both spouses’ names, particularly automobile insurance and health insurance, unless there is a significant savings for each to maintain separate health insurance through their employer;
- Joint rental agreement for the marital home (in some instances a deed or record of joint ownership of property may be beneficial too). The lease should be signed by both spouses and it should clearly identify both spouses as residing at the home; and
- All government records (driver’s licenses, state ID’s, car registrations…) employment records, school records and tax records (W-2 Forms, 1040’s,…) should clearly identify their marital status and their marital address.
There are certain mistakes that we see often. One is when the couple has two joint checking accounts but they do not receive their wages or payments in the same account. For example, Paula and Jeremiah got married. Prior to their marriage, each had their own checking account. After the marriage, Paula added Jeremiah to her account and Jeremiah added Paula to his account. However, Paula kept using her original account to deposit her income and to pay for her expenses, and Jeremiah did the same thing with his account. This type of activity will damage the Marriage-based residency petition because it will show that the joining of their accounts was in name only, and that each is continuing to lead their financial life independent of the other, just as they were prior to the marriage. A second common mistake is when the married couple does not update their address with the Registry of Motor Vehicles, their employers or their schools. When processing a Form I-130 petition, USCIS normally checks the couple’s address history, and if there are differences, that can lead USCIS to question whether the couple is actually living together.
At FitzGerald Law Company, we understand the profound importance of a successful Residency petition on a married couple’s life, and we are available to provide assistance to make sure that all the evidence on your case is well presented and solid before filing the marriage residency petition with the USCIS. Our experienced Boston immigration lawyers with a successful track record are also available to help you with any other immigration, criminal or personal injury matter. Call 617-303-2600 today or request your appointment online.