As a U.S. conditional resident filing immigration Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence, you must include information that your marriage was made in good faith. Even if you are not filing with your spouse and are instead applying for a waiver of the joint filing requirement, you should submit as much proof as possible that your marriage was genuine and not made to circumvent immigration laws.
For information on filling out a Form I-751, see “Filling Out USCIS Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence (Line by Line).” For more on the waivers available, see “What if Your U.S. Spouse Won’t Sign the Joint Petition (I-751)?”
The following categories are examples of the types of evidence that USCIS is looking for to prove that you and your spouse have shared a life together, from the most to the least persuasive.
Copies of birth certificates of your children (with both your and your spouse’s name listed) or adoption records of jointly adopted children are the best evidence that you and your spouse have a genuine marriage. However, don’t worry if you don’t have children! USCIS doesn’t expect all couples to start a family, much less in the first two years of their marriage.
USCIS wants to see that the two of you share resources and are living as a family. This includes joint financial accounts as well as the maintenance of a shared home. The more documents you can provide with both your names, the better. To demonstrate that the two of you operate as a couple, you can provide copies of jointly filed tax returns for the past two years, as well as joint savings and checking account statements, investment account statements, credit card and loan statements, and bills of sale for an automobile or another large purchase.
You should also submit a copy of your lease, mortgage or deed for your family home, and utility bills in both of your names.
While it is not ideal if you don’t live at the same address, it does not necessarily mean that your application is destined for denial. You should, however, provide a good explanation as to why you are living apart, as well as plenty of additional evidence regarding the validity of your marriage. Many conditional residents have successfully had their conditions removed while living apart. For example, perhaps one spouse needed to move to another location for work and you intend to follow shortly. Or you or your spouse is attending college or a vocational training program in another city.
While financial documents are great evidence, you can also provide information that the two of you are members of clubs, religious organizations, teams, and other associations together.
Statements that show that you are covered by your spouse’s health insurance or that he or she is covered by your insurance plan are great proof that you are a couple. The same goes for joint automobile or home insurance policies and life insurance policies that list you or your spouse as the beneficiary in case the other dies.
Additionally, provide copies of your properly signed estate documents (wills, trusts, and even information on your funeral plans or intended burial location) if you have them. This shows USCIS that you and your spouse intend for the other to inherit your property after death.
You can provide copies of travel documents and itineraries for a honeymoon or a family vacation. If your spouse has traveled abroad to visit your family members, it shows a genuine interest in you as a person. Also, if you planned a honeymoon or vacation together, it tends to show that your marriage is not a sham and that you are planning trips together for pleasure.
Don’t be afraid to share wedding pictures and (non-intimate) photographs of you and your spouse during your marriage. This demonstrates that you are a happy couple and attend events together! If the U.S. citizen spouse bought anniversary or birthday gifts for the other spouse, show the cards and receipts.
You can submit copies of identification documents showing that your spouse took your name or that you took his or hers. However, it is not necessary that the two of you share a surname to prove that you have a genuine marriage. Plenty of couples decide for a variety of reasons to keep their original surnames after marriage.
While it’s not the best evidence, you can also submit letters, emails, Facebook posts, and other messages that you and your spouse sent to each other during your relationship, or cards, letters and emails from others that address you as a couple.
You can also submit a personal statement describing how you met your spouse and details of your relationship that prove that it was based on love and affection, as well as affidavits from other people who know the both of you or attended your wedding and can provide evidence and affirm that your marriage and relationship are genuine. See “Creating Substitute Documents or Affidavits for Immigration Applications” for guidance on drafting an affidavit, or get an attorney’s help if you still feel you’re short on evidence.