Affidavits and Affiants
USCIS defines an affidavit as “a document in which a person states facts” and swears that “the facts are true and accurate.” The person writing the affidavit is known as the affiant. Affidavits can take many different forms and serve in a number of situations. However, USCIS has specific requirements for the affidavits that affiants, or authors, submit in support of individuals seeking immigration benefits through marriage.
Who Needs an Affidavit for Proof of Bona Fide Marriage?
Individuals seeking permanent resident status or citizenship through marriage must submit proof to USCIS that their marriage is a bona fide, or valid, relationship. This evidence typically consists of financial documents and legal certificates that demonstrate many standard conventions of married life: shared bank accounts, co-owned real estate or resulting children, for example. If such evidence is lacking or if a couple wishes to strengthen their case, they can request that people who know them write an affidavit or Letter of Support.
Affidavit of Support Versus Affidavit as a Letter of Support
Terminology can be confusing, as USCIS requires that petitioners sign and submit an Affidavit of Support for individuals that they want to help immigrate to the U.S. In that Affidavit of Support, typically Form I-864, the petitioner accepts financial responsibility for the person immigrating.
In contrast, an affidavit or letter in support of a bona fide marriage as part of the immigration process is different and separate from the affidavit of financial support. The affidavit usually called a Letter of Support is simply an objective account of the author’s knowledge about the couple’s marriage. These letters often become part of the package of evidence submitted with
- Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. Relatives file Form I-130 to prove their relationship with the person they are helping immigrate to the U.S.
- Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence. Conditional permanent residents use Form I-751 to become full permanent residents.
How To Write an Affidavit for an Immigration Marriage
- Ensure Qualifications To Write the Letter. Anyone can write a letter of support to help prove the validity of a marriage. Authors can be family members, friends or even acquaintances who have assisted the couple with financial matters or living arrangements, for example. Authors must, however, know the couple and be able to provide factual evidence that demonstrates that the two people married because they are a valid couple in a bona fide marriage.
- Determine Relevant Evidence To Include. Factual evidence should prove that the marriage is a legitimate one. This typically includes information indicating dates, times and specific events that the author cites. Authors may need to research records or calendars to establish the validity of the information they intend to include in their letter. Sometimes, USCIS will follow up with the author, the affiant, to confirm facts or request additional supporting evidence.
- Compose the Letter of Support. While formats can vary somewhat, USCIS has some specific requirements about what should be in the affidavit, or Letter of Support. To prevent misunderstandings or readability issues, affiants should type the letter, clearly presenting information in a logical order much like a business letter.
- a.Affiant’s Full Name and Address. This should be easily located, at the top of the page.
- b. Affiant’s Date of Birth and Place of Birth. USCIS requires this information on affidavits. It can be included under the full name and address as DOB (date of birth) and POB (place of birth).
- c. Date of Letter. Letters should indicate the date on which the letter was written.
- d. Subject Line. The subject line specifies what the letter is and who it regards. It should indicate that the letter is an affidavit or Letter of Support, and it should include the couple’s full names.
- e. Form of Address. For politeness and format, most letters include a “Dear USCIS Officer,” form of address.
- f. Relationship to the Couple. The affiant, or author, must establish their relationship to the couple, how they know them. This should include information about
- how long they have known the couple,
- how often they see or visit with them, and
- how recently they have interacted with them.
- g. Complete Details of Evidence of the Bona Fide Marriage. Evidence should be organized as one piece of evidence per paragraph. Each piece of evidence should be clearly stated and supported with dates, times or other pertinent details. Details should specify how the affiant, or author, knows these things to be true.
- h. Oath of Truthfulness. To close the letter, the affiant should include a statement swearing to the truthfulness of the information submitted: For example,”I swear, under penalty of perjury, that the foregoing is true and correct to the best of my knowledge.”
- I swear, under penalty of perjury, that the foregoing is true and correct to the best of my knowledge.”
- i. Closure With Contact Information. Affiants should close by including their full name and contact information: current address and phone number, for example.
- j. Notarized Signature. Signing the Letter of Support before a notary affirms the identity of the affiant, or author, and makes the letter a sworn, official statement. Letters of Support do not have to be notarized, but they can be notarized.
Submitting a Letter of Support for an Immigration Marriage
Affiants usually give their letter to the married couple or to the married couple’s attorney. The letter will be included in the evidence submitted to USCIS as part of their petition or application package. When USCIS reviews the package, immigration officers may request an interview with an affiant, or author, to review information submitted in the letter and confirm the validity of a couple’s marriage.
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