When filing Form I-751 to remove the conditions on residence, the conditional permanent resident also needs to submit evidence that the relationship was entered in “good faith.” USCIS wants to confirm that the marriage was not entered into for the purposes of evading immigration laws. Much confusion surrounds the need to submit I-751 affidavits.
These “letters of support” are letters written by people that know the couple and have first-hand knowledge of the relationship. The I-751 affidavit helps support other evidence that the couple submits to demonstrate that the marriage was entered in good faith and is a not a “sham” marriage.
The I-751 affidavit is not mandatory, but it’s strongly suggested by many attorneys. What’s more, it may help petitioners avoid the I-751 interview. Affidavits are most useful when the petitioner’s evidence of a bona fide marriage is weak and possibly insufficient.
I-751 Affidavit is Not Proof
An I-751 affidavit can never replace strong, objective evidence that a bona fide marriage exists. The best evidence of a genuine, good faith marriage includes proof of having children together, joint finances (such as bank accounts, insurance, and retirement plans) and jointly owned property. It’s very important to demonstrate that the couple lives together and is planning for the future together. For a more extensive list of example evidence, read 33 Great Documents for Proving a Bona Fide Marriage on an I-751 Petition.
Most attorneys will agree that an affidavit is never as good the primary forms of evidence listed above. However, the I-751 affidavit letter can be used to fill in gaps or build a stronger case on top of existing evidence. But petitioners should expect USCIS to weigh the objective forms of evidence more heavily than an I-751 affidavit.
Who Should Write I-751 Affidavit
Typically, I-751 affidavit letters of support are written by friends of the married couple. The letter is not limited to friends; it may be written by a family member or even a religious leader. Ideally the person writing the letter of support has known the couple since before the marriage and until the present time. There is no requirement that the writer must be a U.S. citizen or even live in the United States. But remember, he or she should be a close confidant that is familiar with the couple’s life together. So the writer should ideally be local to the couple.
The I-751 affidavit is the writer’s opportunity to testify to his/her personal experience with the couple and share observations that led to the conclusion that the couple is in love and each spouse has honest intentions to remain a married a couple. Of course, it’s impossible to be sure than even the most sincere couple will remain married forever. The writer can only testify to the extent of his/her personal knowledge.
Use of an I-751 Affidavit When Filing with a Waiver
In some cases, a marriage that was entered with the best intentions does not have a happy ending. Bona fide marriages could be terminated due to divorce or death. In these situations, the conditional permanent resident must file Form I-751 with a hardship waiver (instead of filing jointly with the spouse).
There is still a need to prove that the couple entered the marriage in good faith and intended to build a life together. This becomes more difficult when the conditional permanent resident is no longer married. An I-751 affidavit can help to establish the good intentions of the couple and the unfortunate reasons for the marriage ending (particularly in cases with spousal abuse).
The conditional permanent resident should contact an immigration attorney before filing Form I-751 with a hardship waiver. In these cases, USCIS will scrutinize the I-751 petition more heavily. An attorney can help the petitioner achieve the best outcome.
Properly Created I-751 Affidavit
An affidavit is basically a sworn letter. The person who writes an affidavit is an affiant. The affiant swears to the affidavit’s truth. When submitting I-751 affidavits to USCIS, experts recommend a typed letter. Every I-751 affidavit should cover these basic points:
- Full name and address of affiant
- Date and place of birth
- Relationship to I-751 applicant and spouse
- An account of your relationship explaining:
- How you met the couple
- Time frame you have known the couple
- Give a sense of the frequency (i.e. frequently socialize)
- Details explaining how the person acquired this knowledge (i.e. friends)
- Date and signature
Remember, the I-751 affidavit is supporting evidence to prove that the couple has a bona fide marriage. That is, the marriage is true and genuine. So the affiant should ideally provide a short account of why he or she believes this is true. The affiant can use a story that proved mutual commitment, the hard work that the couple have put into the immigration process, etc.
The letter does not need to be notarized, but it is helpful to include a sworn statement that states, “I swear, under penalty of perjury, that the foregoing is true and correct to the best of my knowledge.”
The petitioner should understand that an affidavit is only supporting evidence. You must use primary forms of objective evidence (Read Prove a Good Faith Marriage When Filing I-751) and then use the affidavit to back it up.
Sample I-751 Affidavit
CitizenPath has prepared a downloadable I-751 affidavit sample that you can forward to friends that are willing to write a letter of support. The downloadable PDF file includes a list of the basic points that the writer should cover in the letter and an example I-751 affidavit.
Use the sample I-751 affidavit as an example. Remember that each letter is unique and should contain elements that are personal to your story. The affiant should be honest and use anecdotes to demonstrate why he or she came to the conclusion that the couple has a bona fide marriage.
Although it is not necessary in most cases, the affiant should understand that he/she may be required to testify before an immigration officer as to the information contained in the affidavit.
USCIS may require the couple to attend an interview after filing Form I-751 and the required evidence. However, the odds of avoiding this interview are greatly improved by providing adequate (quantity) and strong (quality) evidence of a bona fide marriage in the filing package. Many couples are able to avoid the I-751 interview. Filing at least two well-prepared I-751 affidavit letters of support in addition to primary forms of objective evidence can help seal the deal.
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