When deciding whether a relationship is bona fide in a fiancé visa application, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will expect to be provided with financial documents, photographs, phone records, emails, letters, and proof of continuing correspondence, and more. The burden of proof is on the couple to show that their relationship is bona fide. Failing to prove this is one of the main reasons for fiancée visa denials.
The USCIS asserts that a large portion of green card and fiancée visa applications it receives are not legitimate. For this reason, scrutinizing applications for permanent residence and uncovering sham relationships are top priorities. Some U.S citizens get engaged to foreign-born individuals for the purpose of circumventing immigration laws to falsely acquire immigration benefits. Such relationships are considered a “sham” or “fraudulent” and are thus not legitimate, bona fide or true.
Items That May Raise Red Flags as to the Legitimacy of a Relationship
When applying for a fiance visa, there are certain factors that may raise the risk for a denial. Issues that may prompt USCIS to question the legitimacy of a couple’s relationship include:
- Engaged a very short time after meeting, such as in under 3 months
- Never met in-person but already engaged or have had very little physical time together
- A large disparity of age, no common spoken language, different religions, or vast difference in cultural and ethnic background
- Family and/or friends unaware of the engagement
- Foreign fiancée is from a country considered Hi-risk for visa fraud
- Discrepancies in statements on questions asked during the interview
At various points throughout the application process, a couple will be asked to provide documentation of their shared life. Keeping evidence that shows that a couple has a legitimate relationship can play an important role in improving the chances for a visa approval.
Records and documents that may be required include copies of phone bills showing calls made to each other, Skype and chat records, airline tickets and hotel receipts proving visits to see each other, photos of the couple and some with each other’s family (with date stamps), and engagement ring receipts.
As the final step of the visa application process, the couple will need to attend an in-person interview with a USCIS officer or consular. Questions include things the couple should have knowledge of such as how and where they met, whether they have pets, or how they got engaged.