How to Hack the Marriage-Based Immigration Process

Erick Widman

In an international relationship? Cool! International couples have the best stories. (Just ask Amal and George Clooney.) Unfortunately, if they hope to live permanently in the same country, they also have to prove their relationships are genuine time and time again. At every point in the immigration process –– from fiancé(e) visa to green card, removal of conditions to naturalization –– the US government wants to know it’s real.

It’s a good idea to create a folder on your computer titled “relationship documents.” This folder should include copies of your marriage license, passports, children’s birth certificates, and other identity documents. Every now and then you should also upload photographs, utility bills, joint bank statements, and other supporting documents.

Here’s a helpful list of some things to include in your folder of love <3


A picture is worth a thousand words. Several pictures –– especially if they are taken with family members –– can be worth a fiancé(e) visa, green card, or even US citizenship. Be sure to include information about where, when, and with whom the photos were taken. This should be especially easy if you have an active Instagram or Facebook account. Turns out selfies are useful after all!

Samples of texts, emails, and other communication:

Take screenshots of a few text exchanges or your call logs every few months. In addition to proving you and your partner maintain consistent communication, you may even entertain a bored immigration officer with your clever memes.

Affidavits from friends and family:

If you’ve been engaged or married to your partner long enough to want to live in the same place, you should probably know some of the same people by now. Ask your friends to handwrite or type a letter on your behalf. They don’t need to be US citizens or permanent residents, but it’s important that they sign and date the letters. They should also mention how they know you, that you are in a genuine relationship, and (if they’re up for it) something embarrassing about you and your partner.

Joint bank statements :

The government does not need to see all of your transactions. (So don’t worry –– those late night burrito purchases will be our little secret.) The important thing is for them to see that it is a joint account. A screenshot of the first page of each month’s statement should do the trick.

Other joint documents:

Save samples of pretty much anything that has both your names on it. Examples include joint tax returns, utility bills, insurance policies, lease agreements, and mortgage payments. Taking a trip? Save your itinerary and receipts! Share a Netflix account? Include that information too.

In short, any spousal-based change in your immigration status will depend on your ability to prove that your relationship is legitimate. The easiest way to do that is to consistently add supporting documents to a folder on your computer for quick and easy access. What are your recommendations for other interesting types of joint documents? Let us know a!

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