Good News: You don’t have to be perfect to get a marriage based green card!

In a perfect marriage based adjustment of status case, the married couple has been living together for many years. 

As such, there are plenty of shared bills, bank accounts and evidence of jointly made purchases. 

The couple also has a joint residence, common children, photos of happy times and scores of family and friends that can vouch for the legitimacy of their marriage. 

Unfortunately, most of us do not have perfect evidence that proves beyond all doubt that our marriages are legit.

The good news is that we don’t have to be perfect. 

We don’t have to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that our marriages are real(aka bona fide). We just have to prove that by a preponderance of the evidence.

The Burden of Proof for a Marriage Based Adjustment of Status Green Card

As a recovering trial lawyer, I have spent a lot of time explaining the burden of proof to juries. Preponderance of the evidence means more likely than not. If the decision maker thinks that your relationship is real, but they are not sure, then you pass the test. If they are only 50.00000001 sure that your relationship is real, you pass the test.

However, even though this is the law, immigration lawyers(myself included) usually go overboard in documenting the bona fides of the relationship. I do this in an effort to eliminate the possibility of a finding that my clients’ relationship is not valid. 

Although my intentions are pure, when I send the checklist of evidence(to prove the validity of the relationship) I oftentimes invoke panic. My clients commonly say…”We don’t have all of that evidence. Will our case be denied?” I then explain that ideally we would submit all of the evidence on the list. But, there is no reason to worry if we can’t come up with the “perfect” combination of evidence that erases all doubt that you and your spouse intended to establish a life together at the time of your marriage.

Overcoming Red Flags

Perfect evidence is not required. You should however be aware of certain facts that the USCIS officer will see as red flags.

These negative factors/red flags could include…

  • Lack of a common language;
  • No co habitation; 
  • Huge difference in age;
  • The US citizen spouse has previously sponsored a spouse. 

If you recognize any of these red flags, then you should be prepared to provide additional evidence in an effort to ease the concerns of the officer.

For example, if no common language is spoken, perhaps you can demonstrate how you have used technology tools to communicate with your spouse.

If there is a significant age gap, you could submit additional photos and affidavits from family members that support the conclusion that your marriage is real.

When two spouses do not live together, it is helpful to present evidence explaining the circumstances of the separate residence(school and work are common reasons).

Whatever the case may be, if you have a valid relationship there will be a number of ways in which you can overcome the concerns of the officer.

Conclusion—Don’t Panic 

So…please, do not worry if your evidence or circumstances are not perfect.

You probably have more than enough to meet your burden of proof for your marriage based adjustment of status green card. 

The challenge is in deciding what evidence to present that concisely and persuasively demonstrates your true intentions at the time of your marriage.

Good luck and please reach out to a knowledge immigration lawyer who can ease the anxiety that you will inevitably feel during your green card journey!

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