Bona Fide Marriage Documents

A legal marriage or a marriage on paper alone is not sufficient basis to obtain a green card through marriage. There are several ways to prove a bona fide marriage for US immigration purposes. In addition to a marriage certificate, the following documents are examples of what a petitioner or an immigrant spouse can offer as proof of a bona fide marriage. As each couple is unique the following is not a substitute for legal advice based on a couple’s individual circumstances (prior petitions, pregnancy, age difference, prior removal orders, date of wedding, manner and date of entry into the United States etc).

Documentary proof of a bona fide marriage may include but is not limited to the following:

  1.  Wedding pictures – showing the couple together and with family and friends. Wedding invitations may also be used.
  2.  Invitation and pictures for the wedding shower, if any.
  3.  Pictures of the couple together and with family and friends (holidays, vacation, in hospital etc.). Chose picture that show proper body language between the couple and from family and friends.
  4.  Birth certificate of each child born to the marriage. A child is strong, irrefutable evidence of a shared live. Pictures of the couple with their children (births, birthdays, baptism, or other traditional celebrations )
  5.  Personal statement or self statement of bona fide marriage, in which the petitioner describe, in great detail, how they met, why they got married, who proposed marriage, and the feelings that they had or still have towards each other and why.
  6.  Bona fide marriage affidavits (statements signed before a notary public) from at least two people with personal knowledge of the marriage and who can give details of the relationship between the immigrant spouse and the U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident petitioner.
  7.  Letters received from spouse while dating, apart, or during any other stage of the relationship.
  8.  Letters, cards and invitations to the couple from family and friends
  9.  A rental agreement for house or apartment with the names of the couple on it, or a letter from the building manager or owner proving that the couple occupies the premises.
  10.  Tax returns that show taxes filed jointly.
  11.  Papers with the names of both immigrant and spouse that show joint ownership of a car, a house, furniture, or something else together.
  12.  Insurance papers (health, auto, life and property) – that are either joint insurance papers or that show coverage of each other by insurance plan.
  13.  Joint Utility Bills for a marital home, such as cable TV, internet, electricity, water, gas, cell phone, or others that show both names on it.
  14.  For women, a government issued identification card that shows the use of your spouse’s last name could be persuasive but is not required.
  15.  Joint bank statements – as with having a child, having shared bank accounts is strong, evidence of a bona fide marriage because it indicates trust between the couple.
  16.  Any other documents that show trust, a shared life and shared burden of living.

If you have any questions please consult with a local immigration attorney. You may also email me at via the contact form on this website. Please subscribe to this blog or the RSS feed so you can see when new articles are posted.

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Passing the Stokes interview and Stokes interview sample questions

If you fail to convince the immigration officer at your first marriage immigration interview that your marriage is in good faith, the USCIS may give you written notice of a marriage fraud interview known as a Stokes interview. A Stokes interview is a taped interview in which the USCIS separates you and your spouse and ask questions. The goal is to decide whether your marriage is in good faith and not solely for gaining an immigration benefit.

At the Stokes interview you and your spouse will be sworn in and questioned separately.  The examiner will compare your answers to the answers of your spouse and look for any discrepancies. If you give the same answers you will pass. If you don’t, you will be given an opportunity to explain any discrepancies.

As you and your spouse are under oath and the interview is taped it is very important that your answers be truthful. Giving false testimony under oath will not just result in denial of your green card but it is also a crime. You should not guess about what your spouse will say. If you do not know the answer or do not remember it is better to say so and not guess or make things us.

What to bring

It is important that the petitioner brings either a U.S. passport or a driver’s license and a social security card. You must bring the original documents  you brought to the first interview to the Stokes interview. Be sure to bring your passport, I-94 and social security card, if you have one. You should also bring any other documents to support the petition as the examiner should consider other evidence besides the interview. Examples are bank statements, lease agreements, rent receipts, mortgage agreements, health insurance policies, utility bills, tax returns and photos. You should also bring your last two pay stubs and statements and employment letters for both of you. The letters should be on company letter head signed by an official of the firms, stating when employment began, salary, dependents claimed and whom to notify in case of emergency.

Types of questions that may be asked

The Stokes interview is similar to the first green card marriage interview except that you and your spouse will be questioned separately. In the weeks before the interview you and your spouse should focus on communicating with each other and spending time together. Pay close attention to the minor details of your marriage.

Stokes interview - what is the color of your spouses toothbrush
Stokes interview - focus on the minor details of your marriage, e.g. the color of your spouse's toothbrush

 

Examples of the type of questions marriage immigration interview questions that may be asked at a Stokes interview are:

  1. How did you meet your spouse?
  2. When did you meet?
  3. How long did you know each other before you got married?
  4. Where did you go on your first date?
  5. Where did you and your spouse live before getting married?
  6. Who was at your wedding?
  7. Did you have a wedding reception?
  8. Describe the lay out of your apartment?
  9. How many TV’s do you have?
  10. What is the last movie you and your spouse saw together?
  11. Where did you go on your honeymoon?
  12. When was the last time you and your spouse were intimate?
  13. Where did you and your spouse first live together after marriage?
  14. What side of the bed do you sleep on?
  15. What brand of cigarette does you spouse smoke?
  16. What is the color of the wall in your bedroom?
  17. Do you have lamps in the bedroom?
  18. What did you have for dinner last night?
  19. What is your spouse’ favorite food and drink?
  20. At which restaurant did you last have a meal together?
  21. What is the color of your spouses tooth-brush?
  22. What is the color of the living room carpet?
  23. How many brothers and sisters does your spouse have?
  24. What are the names of your spouse’s parents?
  25. What did you give your spouse as a birthday gift last year?
  26. What is your spouse’s date of birth?
  27. Is your spouse left-handed or right-handed?
  28. Has your spouse met your mother?
  29. Do you pay the water bill separate from the rent?
  30. Did your spouse sleep at home last night?

You should listen carefully and only answer the questions that the interviewer directs to you personally. Do not answer any questions addressed to your spouse without first asking permission from the immigration officer. Remain calm and answer the questions truthfully. Do not argue with the examiner.

Finally, you have the right to bring an attorney and a translator with you to the interview. In fact you are strongly urged to bring an attorney to make sure that the questions asked are legally relevant to the process. An attorney will also be able to raise objections with the examiner and/or examiner’s supervisor after the interview. Remember it is your responsibility to make sure that you attorney shows up on time as the absence of an attorney by itself is not generally good cause to postpone an interview.

If you have a translator, the immigration officer will also swear in him or her to give exact translations. It is important that the translator translate each question and each answer sentence by sentence. The translator must not explain things or answer questions on your behalf. Before attending a Stokes interview you should consult an immigration attorney as failure to convince the immigration officers that your marriage is in good faith could result in removal proceedings before an immigration court.

If you and your spouse live together and have a bona fide marital relationship you should have no problem passing a properly conducted stokes interview. But consult an attorney. Leave nothing to chance.

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