Preparing for a green card interview is just as crucial as submitting a properly completed application. Part of that preparation process entails not only knowing what type of questions will be asked but also furnishing the required necessary documents at the interview. Failure to bring necessary paperwork can not only delay a final decision in a case but also potentially result in a denial. Generally speaking, a couple should be prepared to show the originals of any copies that were submitted with the I-130 submission. For example, if the US Citizen spouse submitted a copy of his/her birth certificate as proof of US Citizenship, he or she should be ready to furnish the officer with the original if asked at the interview. In addition, parties to a marriage case should expect to provide documentary proof of their relationship.
Typical Marriage Documents
As part of the process, a US Citizen and his/her foreign national spouse must submit clear and convincing evidence to establish that the marriage is genuine, and not one entered into immigration purposes. While documents do not, by themselves, conclusively establish that a marriage is “bona fide”, the presence or lack of, certainly plays a factor in how an officer accesses the marital relationship. It is important to understand that documents will never, of course, supplant questioning; and, of course, if an officer suspects that the relationship is not real, the fact that there are a lot of joint documents will not necessarily alleviate those suspicions. In fact, a plethora of joint documents when the circumstances suggest that the couple is not living together or engaged in a genuine relationship could be interpreted as fraud. On the other hand, a lack of joint documents can also present problems and understandably lead an officer to inquire more closely into the nature of the relationship. That being said, couples should reasonably compile as much joint documentation of what they have already established and bring to the interview. As referenced in USCIS instructions, such evidence may include but is certainly not limited to:
•· Documentation showing joint ownership of property
•· A lease showing joint tenancy of a common residence, showing that the couple reside together at the same address
•· Documentation showing combined financial resources
•· Affidavits sworn to and affirmed by third parties who personally know the couple that attest to the marital relationship
•· Any other relevant documentation to demonstrate that there is an ongoing marital union
The last category could include, for example, proof of gifts purchased for one another; trips taken together; and even text messages or love letters.
The point is that there is no set magic “list” of documents that one needs for a marriage interview. The documents will vary from couple to couple and depend on the couple’s lifestyle. Some couples may not necessarily believe in joint bank accounts and therefore may not have as much combined finances as others. This does not and should not conclusively mean that the couple is not bona-fide. However, the couple should be aware that the burden of proof is on them to demonstrate that the marriage was not entered into to evade the immigration law, and nearly everything (within the bounds of reason) can be subject to scrutiny. Therefore, the couple should be prepared to explain why things appear the way they do or why they lack the conventional indicia of a real couple.
Contrary to popular misbelief, an immigration marriage interview can be incredibly complicated. It is not just a matter of showing up and expecting the officer to rubberstamp everything just because there are a huge stack of joint taxes and bank accounts. A couple should expect to be thoroughly questioned regarding their relationship as well as have their digital and documentary life meticulously examined.
For more information on the green card process and what to expect at an interview, please contact our office. The above is general information only and not to be relied upon as legal advice. It does not create an attorney client relationship nor should it be relied upon as advice in lieu of consultation with an attorney.