Joint Bona Fide Documents: How to Start meeting the USCIS I-130 Evidence Requirement for a Marriage

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The I-130 Petition of Alien Relative is a “Relationship Verifying Process” that creates a high level of “document requirements” for marriage-based filings. The younger the relationship/marriage, the less evidence generally exists. This blog post will discuss how to start preparations before filing an I-130 (or if an I-130 is already pending, how to increase evidence).

In order to begin starting a life together, USCIS has broken many aspects of a relationship into categories. For all relationships, Photos and Communication, are absolutely required and are great starting places to bolster your Bona Fide Evidence. The Following categories will add more structure to your preparations.

First Category of Evidence: Joint Relationship Photos

Below is a more thorough review of how many joint photos to provide:

Bona Fide Marriage Evidence: How many Photos does USCIS want with an I-130 Filing?

Second Category of Evidence: Comingling Finances

Spouses are expected to have access to each other’s money / finances. A Joint Bank account is MANDATORY if the immigrant has a Social Security Number. When someone doesn’t have a Social Security Number, banks are not generally able to add an immigrant on an account as the Social Security Number is needed for either FDIC Compliance or as a bank policy.

If you are able to have a Joint Account, USCIS would require 12 months of statements, or as many as possible. Meaning, if you’ve been married for 2 years, and have a joint account for 3 years, USCIS would want 3-years of bank statements. The more the better.

Third Category of Evidence: Joint Tax Returns

No US Citizen likes to “play” with IRS filings. As such, the IRS 1040 Tax Return and IRS Tax Return Transcript is a great piece of evidence to prove a marriage. Although a Social Security Number is generally needed, Immigrants (and even US Citizens) can look into an ITIN or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number to facilitate the “joint” tax filing.

Fourth Category of Evidence: Marital Home

This category is probably the most applicable to married couples. the following list can show how many things can actually be used to help prove marital home:


  1. Lease naming US Citizen and Immigrant Spouse or a letter from the landlord or property management stating cohabitation of both spouses.
  2. Deed to home naming both spouses.

Super Highly Recommend providing at least 3 of the following that contains BOTH SPOUSE’S NAMES:

  1. Electric/Water/Sewage Bill/Statement
  2. Internet Bill/Statement
  3. Phone Bill/Statement
  4. Bank Statements (an item that can appear above in the comingling finances and here in marital home)
  5. Health Insurance Bill/Statement
  6. Car Insurance Bill/Statement
  7. Property Insurance Bill/Statement
  8. Amazon Order History that shows the SAME ADDRESS and alternates between both spouses
  9. Non-amazon mail and packages that shows the SAME ADDRESS and alternates between both spouses

Fifth Category of Evidence: Constant Communication

If your relationship started 5 years ago, then USCIS expects evidence spanning 5 years. Although it is a marriage-filing, USCIS wants to see the full relationship and communication is 100% mandatory for any marriage. Ideally, USCIS wishes to see proof of communication for the following phases of the relationship:

  1. Meeting/Friendship/Dating Phase
  2. Engagement Phase
  3. Marriage Phase

The Types of Communication Proof can be:

  • Phone Records for calls and text messages
  • Facebook Messenger
  • Whatsapp conversation (screenshots)
  • Wechat conversations
  • Snapchat
  • Instagram
  • Dated love letter or Bootcamp letters
  • Emails
  • Screenshots of video calls

Sixth Category of Evidence: Military Related

In the US Military, a spouse is required to be added into the DEERS System, which would provide the following:

  1. Tricare and a Military Dependent ID
  2. SGLI, a $400,000 life insurance policy
  3. Military reports such as a RED Report, Basic Individual Record, Record of Emergency Data (DD Form 93), or Enlisted Record Brief

These are great marital records to be provided to USCIS. More guidance can be found here:

DEERS Office and the need for Apostille / Legalized Foreign Documents

Seventh Category of Evidence: Social Media

Social Media Posts are ideal pieces of evidence for younger individuals and are quite common. USCIS likes this form of evidence because social media posts are (1) time-stamped, and (2) can link the people present in the post or photo. Moreover, holding you and your spouse out to the public as “a relationship” or as “a spouse” helps show to an officer that a significant other is important in someone’s life.

No, Social Media does not need to be provided by both spouses. Meaning, at least 1 spouse may be able to provide this type of evidence. However, both spouses sharing their lives on social media, and all posts and photos are recommended to be provided to USCIS. The more evidence the better. Screenshots of the posts are sufficient.

Eighth Category of Evidence (But not really Evidence): Introduce and Timeline your relationship for USCIS

A summary, introduction, and timeline of a relationship can help “condense” a relationship into a quick bite-size snapshot. “A Letter to your USCIS Officer” is a nice courtesy. The following post will help explain further. However, a summary is INSUFFICIENT by itself. There must be evidence to prove a relationship, and a letter is not considered evidence.

A letter to your marriage-based I-485 USCIS interviewing officer


Related Blog Post:

USCIS Marriage-Based Adjustment of Status Interview in 2020: Tips and Tricks




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