How Do I Prove My Marriage is Real?

Evidence that your marriage is real for your marriage green card or spouse visa application.

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One of the most crucial elements in applying for a marriage green card is demonstrating that your marriage is real or “bona fide” and that you are genuinely married (not just for the purpose of getting the other person a green card). In a “bona fide” marriage, you and your spouse have no immediate plans to separate, meaning you are planning a future together. The U.S. government will review your application to determine you did not get married only to get a green card. 

You must include a marriage certificate with your green card application to demonstrate a “bona fide” marriage. A marriage certificate, alone, won’t be sufficient to prove that your marriage is real. The U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) is aware of how simple the legal process of marriage is. Because of this, while assessing marriage-based green card applications, the officer reviewing your case will search for further documentary evidence that the couple is building a life and future together.

You typically get only two chances to demonstrate the validity of your marriage for your green card application before you are even granted an interview:

  1. By including supporting documentation with your marriage-based I-130 petition (the first step of the marriage-based green card process). 
  2. If the documentation submitted with your application is deemed to be insufficient, you will get a “Request for Evidence” to which you must respond completely and accurately. If the officer, and their discretion, determine you have submitted an incomplete application or do not have enough evidence to meet their requirements, your application will be denied.

If you are scheduled for an interview, the officer has determined you meet the basic threshold of what is considered a “bona fide” or genuine relationship. You will still have to respond to inquiries during your interview for a green card so the officer can make sure they have come to the right conclusion. You will also be required to bring additional and more current documents to further evidence your marriage is genuine.

Do you meet the requirements for a marriage green card? Check your eligibility first.

Use Our Love Visa’s free tools to strengthen your application. Our relationship timeline allows you to share your love story and is fun and easy to use.

Our Love Visa has streamlined all the necessary government forms and requirements into easy questions that you can complete online, usually in less than an hour, and provides free tools that can help plan and track your application progress. Find out more and start your U.S. immigration process today.

Immigration support is available at an affordable price. The best part, you can use our tools and features for free, whether or not you choose to use the paid form function or work with someone from our independent attorney network. Our Dashboard has a personalized planning tool and relationship timeline to help you organize and strengthen your immigration application. We also have a tracking tool that securely pulls your immigration case status updates from the USCIS website.

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Providing Documents with Your Application

Building your relationship/love story or “painting a picture” of your relationship through time is crucial as you put together your marriage green card application (I-130 petition packet). For example, ten photographs from the last five years or your relationship is more convincing proof of an actual marriage relationship than twenty pictures from only the last month. (That is to say, being able to show your relationship over a longer period of time is stronger evidence than a shorter relationship).

One of the main reasons USCIS denies I-130 marriage-based green card applications is insufficient evidence of a real or genuine marriage. You may provide a compelling case for a valid marriage by including the following papers with your I-130 petition application. While not all of the papers in each category below must be submitted, USCIS prefers to see documents fitting into as many of those categories as feasible. 

Our Love Visa provides you with a free relationship timeline tool that will allow you to prove your relationship with your partner.

Proof that you have assets and liabilities together

Financial documentation demonstrating how you and your spouse have pooled your assets and obligations is a great way to prove that you are married.

Copies of some examples of such documents include

  • Statements of joint accounts with both spouses’ names
  • jointly held property titles or deeds (real estate or vehicles)
  • Mortgage or loan paperwork demonstrating shared financial responsibility
  • Statements from joint credit cards that list each spouse as either an account holder or an authorized user
  • Insurance plans that cover both spouses under the same plan or policy, such as joint car, health, and house insurance policies
  • Each of your life insurance plans names the other as the principal beneficiary.

Proof of living together

USCIS expects married couples to cohabitate. See what a couple can do if they don’t live together in the section below.

Examples of papers that may support cohabitation (living together) in more normal situations include:

Copies of the following with the names of both spouses on them

  • Joint lease or mortgage documentation (make sure to include a copy of the entire mortgage or lease)
  • Utility or other invoices with the names of both spouses
  • Property title

Identical copies of the following documents showing the addresses of both spouses

  • Driving permits
  • Property title
  • Insurance certificates
  • Collective bank statements

Original copies of the documents below, with the addresses for both spouses being the same.

  • letters from loved ones, acquaintances, and employers

What if we do not live together when we apply?

Living apart will often cause concern. If you haven’t lived with your partner since you were married, you must provide a compelling justification for why you’ve had to do so. Couples who do not currently reside together must submit a letter, signed by both spouses, stating their intentions to move in together, the date they expect to do so, and the address they want to relocate to (if available). To whom it may concern or “USCIS,” if appropriate, should appear on the letter.

The unconventional living arrangement should not prohibit the pair from receiving a green card if they explain it fully and honestly and provide further proof of their open marriage.

Showing that you have children together

One of the greatest pieces of evidence is proof that you’re jointly parenting kids, whether they’re from your present marriage or a former one.

Such papers include, for instance:

  • Copies of: Your children’s birth certificates (if from a prior marriage, including the names of one of the spouses);
  • Adoption records
  • school or medical paperwork indicating the stepparent as the stepchildren’s emergency contact

Original copies of: 

  • A letter from a doctor certifying that a patient is currently pregnant or undergoing fertility treatments
  • Photographs of the two of you with your children and stepchildren from family trips or other occasions

Other types of documents that help strengthen your application

Money and children are just two factors in a marriage. USCIS is looking for evidence that you and your spouse are a couple, that you talk to each other and do things together.

Examples of this evidence include:


  • Travel plans and itineraries, particularly for trips you did together to the spouse’s country of origin if they are applying for a green card.
  • Chat or phone logs demonstrating your frequent communication

Original copies of:

  • Wedding photographs, such as those taken at the courthouse and during the celebration with relatives.
  • Photos were taken at gatherings, events, and vacations (as a couple, with friends, and with family) during your relationship and significant life occasions.
  • Cards, emails, or letters you two exchanged
  • In particular, receipts or invoices with one spouse listed as the “bill to” name and the other spouse listed as the “ship to” or “receiver” name are useful. These presents should not be common household goods like food, such as sweets or flowers.

Some types of evidence are stronger than others

Some papers are more persuasive than others in USCIS’ eyes as evidence of a true connection. For guidance, consider the following instances of stronger and weaker evidence, ranked:

  • Dependable evidence Wills, joint leases, shared utilities, life insurance, and joint bank accounts
  • Medium evidence: shared trip plans, divided utilities, texts, and phone records
  • Weaker proof includes cards, statements from friends and relatives, schedules for single trips, and performance tickets.

Don’t worry if you don’t have all of these papers with you. The great news is that you can start working on your application right now as you collect your supporting materials. You can safely save all the papers you need online with Our Love Visa once you know the ones you need. Find out more, or get going right now!

Our Love Visa makes your immigration process easy, fast, and worry-free, guaranteed. We provide you with complementary tools and resources free that help you plan your future in the United States together. Learn about how OLV is helping couples through their immigration journey.

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