My husband and I live in a small town, in separate apartments within the same complex. I'm a U.S. citizen, he's a visa overstay from Pakistan. We had a small, private, same-sex wedding in Massachusetts, but we don't live there. In fact, in the small, conservative town where we live, coming out would probably cause us both to lose our jobs and many of our friends. We're realizing this could complicate our plans for me to petition for him to get a green card.
Needless to say, we don't have lots of pictures of a big wedding, we can't get affidavits from employers, we haven't made each other beneficiaries on our health insurance or 401(k)s, and we hesitate to approach even the few friends whom we suspect are sympathetic and confirm our homosexuality to them, in case they gossip. We didn't buy wedding rings. We don't plan to arrange to raise a family. We don't have joint bank accounts.
Even our Facebook statuses say "single!" Get the picture? How are we going to be able to satisfy the immigration officials that this marriage is the real thing, not a fraud to get my husband a green card?
You're not alone; you are in a similar situation to many same-sex couples. And you're right to give this issue your full attention, since U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is perpetually on the lookout for cases where people get married not out of love or to establish a life together, but simply to obtain U.S. lawful permanent residence (a green card) for the noncitizen.
USCIS states that it does not scrutinize same-sex marriages any more closely than it scrutinizes opposite-sex marriages, but it has always scrutinized those plenty closely.
Don't panic, however: With a little creativity, you can find a way. Although USCIS and various experts provide lists of suggested documents for proving the bona fides of a marriage, none of the items on these lists is absolutely required.
What you supply is up to you. Here are some suggestions:
These are just ideas to get you started. For additional help, consult an experienced immigration attorney; perhaps in another city from the one you live in!