How to Document the Genuineness of Your Marriage at Your Adjustment of Status Interview
If you and your spouse have been married for less than two years at the time of your adjustment interview, you must be prepared to demonstrate the genuineness of your marriage. To do this, you should bring evidence that you are living together, taking care of each other, and sharing your finances.
Evidence of living togetherOnce your application to adjust status is filed, USCIS conducts a background check to compare the address history information you both have submitted with third-party records. If the background check shows that you are using different addresses from the ones you have listed on your Forms I-130, I-485 and G-325A, it could indicate that you are not actually living together. It is important not to skip any addresses where you have lived during the last five years, and that you do not only list mailing addresses rather than addresses where you have lived. Make sure the information you provide to USCIS is accurate.
The most-preferred evidence of sharing a residence is a lease, signed by both spouses. (If one spouse previously owned a home together, however, it is not necessary to add the other spouse's name to the deed or mortgage.) If you are renting but do not have a lease, you should get a letter from the landlord to verify that you are both living there and to state the terms of your rental arrangement. Put telephone bills, utility bills, and club memberships in both names wherever possible. If you belong to a church, you can provide an excerpt from your church directory. Save the envelopes with postmarks for personal cards and letters sent by third parties to your home. Make sure your driver's licenses are updated and that all tax-related documents, vehicle registration and title documents are sent to your current address.
Evidence that you are taking care of each otherEvidence that you are taking care of each other includes insurance documentation and medical records. If you have health or life insurance from your employment, take steps to insure your spouse is also covered, unless your spouse already has comparable or better insurance coverage. If your spouse has missed an enrollment period and cannot be covered, document this with a letter from your employer. Consider adding your spouse as a beneficiary on your life insurance policy, if you have not done so already. If your spouse has a driver's license, he or she should be included on your automobile insurance policy.
Evidence that you are sharing financesIf your immigrating spouse doesn't have a social security number, it can be difficult to put his or her name on financial accounts. However, once immigrants get employment authorization, they should apply for a social security number as soon as possible, and they should be put on financial accounts as you both see fit. The government is biased toward a traditional expectation of marriage. The ideal will to provide the USCIS officer joint bank statements at your interview, with accounts reflecting deposits by both (if both are working) and regular activity such as bill payment, shopping, etc. If you share credit accounts, photocopies of the cards should suffice. Loan documents should reflect both parties, as applicable.
Many people do not realize that immigrants are still expected to pay taxes, even if they do not have social security numbers. The immigrant can and should apply for a taxpayer identification number from the Internal Revenue Service. The Internal Revenue Service does not report persons for removal (deportation) proceedings if they file income tax returns with a taxpayer identification number. It is also extremely important that spouses file income taxes as "Married" for any year after their marriage, unless the couple was physically separated for more than six months in a given tax year. If the couple was not separated, they should file taxes as married filing jointly or married filing separately, not head-of-household. If you have any further questions about your income tax status, you should consult with a certified public accountant (CPA). Many tax preparers mistakenly advise couples to not include the immigrant spouse on a tax return and to have the other spouse file as head-of-household. This is tax fraud. You should not expect to misrepresent your marital status to the Internal Revenue Service and then give contradictory information to USCIS for the same tax years. In some instances, it may be advisable to amend your prior year's income tax return. Again, if you have questions about this, you should consult with a legal or tax professional (CPA). The prior year income tax return must be submitted in every adjustment of status case, and it is a document that the USCIS officer will scrutinize.
Other evidence of your relationshipPhotographs can be excellent evidence of your relationship. Avoid providing the officer with "selfie" type photos. Make a wedding album to show the officer, selecting some photos or copies of photos to hand over for your immigration file. Look for photos that document the history of your relationship before marriage, your wedding ceremony, and after the wedding. Include photos that show the immigrating spouse with the other spouse's family members. Photos depicting birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, vacations, and other special occasions are good choices. Make sure you write on the back of each photo the relevant details, such as who the other people are in the photo, the occasion, and an approximate date.
Other than photographs, you can use letters written by family and friends to confirm the genuineness of the marriage and that you are living together, but these letters will not carry the same weight that the above evidence will. If possible, have an attorney review the letters to ensure they contain the proper information. I also recommend asking your friends and family to notarize their letters.
Finally, make sure your social media information is updated, as applicable, to reflect that you are married, because officers will be viewing it. Check to make sure there are not any photographs on the site that could adversely affect your case. If you need to ask for an example of this type of situation, you should probably consult with an immigration attorney.