After a long pause during USCIS local field office shutdowns caused by the pandemic, offices have reopened and are beginning to reschedule interviews, including those based upon marriage.
Marriage residency cases can be very tough – even for those that are real! Commonly, couples navigating through marriage immigration process often find it daunting, unsure of the procedures, required documentation and timing involved. However, filing the case is just the start, the important part comes after that, in the time in between filing the case and the USCIS residency interview, when all the necessary marital documentation is established and compiled, in order to prove the legitimacy of the marriage.
Here are a few tips for couples representing themselves in the residency process:
1) Take the process very seriously – it’s better to be over prepared, rather than under prepared and delay the green card process
2) Do whatever it takes to have a joint marital bank account that both spouses use on a daily basis (not just a saving account). Never use separate bank accounts and always pay utilities, rent and other expenses from bank funds, not cash.
3) Don’t go paperless! I love trees and the environment, but the USCIS could care less, they want to see marital bills, statements and invoices with joint names or at least separate bills for each spouse going to the same marital address
4) Have a lease with both spouses’ names and pay rent from your joint account (even if you live with relative – which you should not!)
5) Always do your tax return married filing jointly, don’t file head of household just to get more money back from the IRS, you are shooting yourself in the foot. Do you want a Green Card or a little more money?
6) Split the utility bills, get several in the U.S. Citizen spouse’s name and several for the foreign national spouse
7) Get joint car insurance, don’t stay on your parent’s policy, really, you are married, act like it!
8) Make sure both spouses Driver’s Licenses are at the same marital address
9) Take lots of pictures with family and friends in different occasions.
These are just the bottom-line documents the USCIS officer is looking for. However, the more marital documents, the better, like joint car registration, joint health insurance, joint cell phone plan, fitness club family plan, etc, etc. The more documents a couple brings to their USCIS interview, the faster the case will be approved. Couples who get stuck somewhere in the process can always give me a call and I will try to steer them in the right direction.
** Contributions to this Column are made by Attorney Caroly Pedersen, Esq. of the American Immigration Law Center – Call 954-382-5378