Affidavit of Bona Fide Marriage

Some immigration forms require proof that a marriage is authentic or bona fide. Two of the most common petitions that require such proof are:

  • Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. Form I-130 establishes the relationship between a petitioner and the beneficiary seeking a Green Card, or permanent resident status.
  • Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence. Form I-751 allows petitioners who obtained conditional permanent resident status through marriage to remove those conditions and gain full permanent resident status.

Instructions for each of these forms list a number of documents that can serve as proof that a marriage is authentic. An Affidavit of Bona Fide Marriage or Letter of Support is one of them.

Evidence Proving a Spousal Relationship

A marriage certificate alone is not sufficient evidence that a spousal relationship is genuine. USCIS details a number of third-party documents that can help to establish the authenticity of a marriage. Evidence includes

  • documents demonstrating joint ownership of property;
  • a lease proving cohabitation, that the couple has been living together;
  • documents showing jointly held or combined financial resources such as banking accounts;
  • birth certificates for children born to the applicant couple;
  • other relevant documents demonstrating joint financial responsibilities like joint utility bills, insurance bills or tax returns; and
  • affidavits, or letters of support, from a third party vouching that the marriage is a bona fide one.

Affidavits as Letters of Support

Applicant couples use affidavits or letters of support for a number of reasons. Some couples may not yet have many of the other, more specific documents listed, particularly the financial evidence. Too, a couple may simply want to submit additional evidence to ensure that their application is as strong as possible. In those cases, applicants can submit affidavits swearing to the validity of their marriage. This is called an Affidavit of Bona Fide Marriage, often referred to as a letter of support.

How To Write an Affidavit Letter of Support for a Bona Fide Marriage

Affidavits or letters of support are not based on a specific form per se, and the applicant couple does not write them. Instead, they are a letter written to USCIS by someone who knows the couple well and who is willing to swear that the marriage in question is authentic. To write a letter of support or affidavit that USCIS will recognize, the affiant, the writer, must include specific information.

  1. The writer must use a subject line to indicate that the letter is an Affidavit Letter of Support and is for the specific couple named.
    • is an Affidavit Letter of Support and
    • is for the specific couple named.
  2. The writer must clearly state their identifying information. They must provide their own
    • full legal name,
    • complete address,
    • date of birth, and
    • place of birth.
  3. Then, the writer must provide
    • A clear history of their relationship with the couple:
      • how the writer came to know them,
      • how long they’ve known them, and
      • how frequently they continue to see them.
    • Details. This can include specific dates, events or other relevant facts that indicate that the couple’s marriage is genuine.
  4. The writer must swear to the letter’s validity and truthfulness by signing the document. A great deal of debate centers on whether a letter of support or an Affidavit of Bona Fide Marriage must be notarized. Optimally, the writer will include a statement swearing to the truthfulness of the letter and sign it in the presence of a notary, who will also sign and affix their imprint seal upon the letter.
    • USCIS affidavit guidelines state that the writer “should sign the affidavit under oath and the signature should be witnessed by an official, such as a notary public.”
    • If that is not possible, the writer should at the very least include a statement indicating that the information is factual and accurate: “ I swear, under penalty of perjury, that the foregoing is true and correct to the best of my knowledge,” for example.

Who To Choose for a Letter of Support

When deciding who to ask to write an Affidavit of Bona Fide Marriage or Letter of Support, applicant couples should consider people who know them and have observed behaviors that indicate that they are a genuine married couple. In some cases, the writers of letters of support may be able to act as substitutes for some of the evidence otherwise lacking; for example, a landlord may be able to write a letter certifying that a spouse has been living at a residence even though that spouse’s name may not appear on the lease. What is most important is that the account given in the affidavit is truthful, factual and accurate, as USCIS may summon the affiant, the affidavit writer, to testify before an immigration officer.