When filing Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, on behalf of a spouse, it’s necessary to submit evidence that you have a genuine, bona fide marriage. This can be challenging for a couple that hasn’t had time to join financial accounts or have children. This I-130 affidavit sample can help couples gather additional evidence from friends and family to support the petition.
I-130 Spousal Petition
U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents that want to petition a spouse for a green card have an additional burden (compared to other family-based immigration cases). They must prove that they have a “real” marriage. A sham marriage is when at least one of the parties of a marriage entered into the marriage for the purpose of circumventing immigration laws to falsely obtain a green card (or other immigration benefits). These “fake” marriages can result in harsh penalties, including steep fines and jail time. Therefore, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) takes additional steps to ensure these spousal relationships are genuine, bona fide marriages. The burden of proof is on the couple to establish the bona fides of the marriage.
Proof of a Bona Fide Marriage
Your evidence for proving a bona fide marriage with the I-130 petition should ideally include documents demonstrating that you’ve combined your lives, especially financially. It’s not as simple as producing a marriage certificate. USCIS instructions for Form I-130 require that you to submit one or more of the following types of documentation to prove a bona fide marriage:
- Documentation showing joint ownership of property;
- A lease showing joint tenancy of a common residence, meaning you both live at the same address together;
- Documentation showing that you and your spouse have combined your financial resources; or
- Birth certificates of children born to you and your spouse together.
But what if you’ve just recently married? Or you haven’t lived together in the same country yet? It can be very difficult to provide documentation as described above.
Purpose of the I-130 Affidavit
For many new couples, they haven’t had time to combine bank accounts or have children. What’s more, many couples are separated by distance. They can’t live together until the spouse is able to immigrate to the United States. So they don’t even have a shared residence. In these instances, it’s beneficial to have a secondary form of evidence known as an affidavit. The I-130 affidavit is simply a legal statement from a third party that describes your relationship.
The I-130 affidavit is an opportunity for a third party to provide testimony about the bona fides of the marriage. It’s a way for people that have first-hand knowledge of your relationship to share their stories.
Who May Write I-130 Affidavit
Any third party who is familiar with your marriage may write the I-130 affidavit. The person who writes an I-130 affidavit is an affiant. Typical affiants include friends, family members, or religious leaders.
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 very familiar with the couple.
How to Write an I-130 Affidavit
The I-130 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 have a real marriage.
USCIS is looking for a factual testimony that explains the details of what was observed of the relationship. They want to know how the witness knows the couple, and what the witness has seen that provides weight to the claim of a bona fide marriage.
The affiant swears to the affidavit’s truth. When submitting affidavits to USCIS, we recommend that you type the letter. Every I-130 affidavit should cover these basic points:
- Full name and address of affiant
- Date and place of birth
- Relationship to I-130 petitioner 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-130 affidavit is supporting evidence to prove that the couple has a bona fide marriage. 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 demonstrates the couple’s mutual commitment, the hard work that the couple have put into the immigration process, or how the couple interacts with each other.
The I-130 affidavit does not need to be notarized, but it should include a sworn statement. For example, you can include, “I swear, under penalty of perjury, that the foregoing is true and correct to the best of my knowledge.”
I-130 Affidavit Sample
CitizenPath has prepared an I-130 affidavit sample that you may forward to friends or family 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 the I-130 affidavit sample.
Use the sample I-130 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. Download the I-130 affidavit sample >>
If your marriage is less than two years old, the foreign spouse will most likely receive a conditional green card. After a two-year period as a conditional resident, the couple will be required to file Form I-751 to remove the conditions on residence. After the I-751 petition is approved, the immigrant spouse will receive a 10-year green card.
When filing Form I-751, USCIS again requires the couple to prove a bona fide marriage. It will become even more important to demonstrate combined bank accounts, insurance, tax returns and other documents. Start planning now.
CitizenPath provides simple, affordable, step-by-step guidance through USCIS immigration applications. Individuals, attorneys and non-profits use the service on desktop or mobile device to prepare immigration forms accurately, avoiding costly delays. CitizenPath allows users to try the service for free and provides a 100% money-back guarantee that USCIS will approve the application or petition. We provide support for the Petition for Alien Relative (Form I-130), Petition to Remove Conditions of Residence (Form I-751), Citizenship Application (Form N-400), and several other common USCIS forms.
Note to Reader: This post was originally published on July 11, 2017, and has been modified with improvements.