Bona-Fide Marriage or Marriage Fraud: What You Need to Know in Immigration Cases

Posted on May 3, 2023 by Chris Prescott

When it comes to immigration cases, proving a bona-fide marriage can be critical. In fact, U.S. Citizenship, and Immigration Services (USCIS) requires evidence that the marriage is not fraudulent and entered into for the sole for the purpose of evading U.S. immigration laws.

USCIS takes marriage fraud very seriously and has implemented various measures to detect fraudulent marriages. But what exactly is a bona-fide marriage, and how can you distinguish it from a fraudulent one? This article will explore what you need to know about bona-fide marriage and marriage fraud in the context of immigration cases.

We will discuss the legal requirements for a bona-fide marriage, the evidence needed to prove it, and the consequences of committing marriage fraud. Additionally, we will provide tips on how to avoid common pitfalls and increase the likelihood of a successful outcome in your immigration case.

USCIS requires that couples meet certain legal requirements to establish that their marriage is bona-fide. These requirements include:

Legal Marriage: The couple must be legally married, which means the marriage must be recognized by the state or country where the marriage took place.

Shared Life: The couple must be living together and sharing their lives together. This can be demonstrated by providing documentation that shows the couple has joint accounts, shared utility bills, etc.

Intent to Build a Life Together: The couple must intend to build a life together, which means they must have a shared commitment to their relationship and a shared plan for their future together. This can be demonstrated by providing evidence of joint travel, future plans, and shared financial investments.

Genuine Relationship: The couple must have a genuine relationship that is based on love and affection, rather than fraud or deceit. This can be established by providing evidence of the couple’s history together, including photographs, letters, and affidavits from family and friends.

It’s important to note that USCIS may request additional evidence to establish that their marriage is bona-fide. Couples should be prepared to provide a variety of evidence that shows their relationship is genuine and not fraudulent.

Here are some ways to prove a bona-fide marriage when filing with USCIS:

Documentation: Providing documentation that demonstrates a shared life together can be crucial in proving a bona-fide marriage. This can include joint bank statements, joint credit cards, leases or mortgages, utility bills, tax returns, and insurance policies.

Affidavits: Sworn statements from individuals who know the couple and can attest to the legitimacy of their relationship can also be helpful. Affidavits can be provided by family members, friends, and colleagues, among others. However, these are typically considered secondary evidence, meaning these Affidavits do not carry as much weight to establish a couple’s bona fide marriage as the other documentation.

Photographs: Providing photographs of the couple together can be a compelling way to demonstrate that they have a genuine relationship. The photographs should show the couple engaged in activities together, with family and friends, and at important events.

Interview: USCIS typically conduct an in-person interview with the couple to assess the legitimacy of their marriage. Couples should be prepared to answer questions about each other’s background, daily life, and future plans.

It’s important to note that USCIS may require additional evidence to establish the legitimacy of marriage. Therefore, it’s essential to consult with an experienced immigration attorney to ensure that the evidence provided is compelling and meets the agency’s requirements.

Marriage fraud is a serious offense in the context of U.S. immigration law and can result in severe consequences for those involved. Here are some of the consequences of marriage fraud:

Denial of Immigration Benefits: If USCIS determines that a marriage is fraudulent, the non-citizen spouse’s application for an immigration benefit will be denied.

Deportation: If USCIS determines that a non-citizen has committed marriage fraud, they may be placed in removal proceedings and deported from the United States.

Criminal Charges: Marriage fraud is considered a federal crime and those involved may face criminal charges. The punishment can include fines, imprisonment, or both.

Ineligibility for Future Immigration Benefits: Those involved in marriage fraud may be permanently barred from obtaining any future immigration benefits.

Revocation of Citizenship: If USCIS determines that a naturalized citizen committed marriage fraud to obtain citizenship, their citizenship can be revoked.

It’s important to note that USCIS takes marriage fraud very seriously and has implemented various measures to detect fraudulent marriages. USCIS may conduct extensive background checks and interviews with the couple and their friends and family to determine the legitimacy of the marriage. Therefore, it is strongly advised to refrain from engaging in marriage fraud and to pursue legitimate means of obtaining immigration benefits.

If you have questions regarding the above or to schedule a consultation, please contact PLG Partner Chris Prescott at