As discussed in yesterday’s post proving a marriage for immigration is a matter of facts and law. De Facto is the Latin phrase that lawyers and lawmakers like to use denoting someone or something that is such in fact. De Jure is then a state of affairs that is in accordance with law. I propose when describing the requirements of an administrative agency such as USCIS a new phrase is needed, De Imperium. This new phrase means acceptable to the government, imperium from the Latin meaning the supreme power, held by consuls and emperors, to command and administer in military, judicial, and civil affairs.
The reason for this new phrase is that not all evidence of a valid marriage that is true in fact or in accordance with state law is acceptable to USCIS. Most commonly USCIS would not recognize a valid marriage that can be proven de facto and de jure if:
• there where previous finding of marriage fraud,
• there is evidence that the beneficiary has attempted or conspired to enter into a marriage for the purpose of evading the immigration laws
• considered offensive to public policy of the United States
There are additional grounds where USCIS will not recognize a marriage, that are far less common, i.e. some proxy marriages.
For those with more “mainstream” marriages, below is a list of documentation to show a valid marriage for immigration.
Documenting the marriage and/or prior marriage terminations
- Marriage certificate and all relevant documentation regarding the termination of prior marriages.
- If previously divorced in the U.S., an appropriate divorce decree/judgment from the relevant authorities, for each prior divorce.
- If you were married in a foreign country, review the Foreign Affairs Manual’s reciprocity tables to ensure that USCIS will accept the documentation.
- The same applies to prior divorces in foreign countries: check the reciprocity tables.
- Evidence of joint financials (several months’ or longer worth of joint bank/financial account statements with both spouses names; jointly held credit cards; jointly held savings account statements; evidence that the couple has jointly filed tax returns);
- Evidence of joint insurance (health; car/vehicle; house or renter’s, etc.);
- Estate planning documents (Documents of one spouse naming the other spouse as Health Care Proxy or granting the other spouse Power of Attorney; one spouse’s will naming the other spouse as beneficiary;
- Job benefits (401(k)) or other retirement account of one spouse listing the other spouse as beneficiary);
- Joint utility accounts (electricity; gas; water; telephone/cable, cell phone, etc.)
- Lease, property title, or mortgage in both names;
- Evidence related to your children, such as each child’s birth certificate listing both parents’ names.