Question: I am a graduate student in a Masters program in Boston, Massachusetts. I will graduate next year. My husband is a U.S. citizen who lives and works in New York. My school requires me to attend classes in person, and my husband must work at his office in New York. I am preparing to submit my green card application on the basis of marriage to a U.S. citizen. Will USCIS think that our marriage is fake because we do not live together?
Answer: If you and your spouse live far apart, USCIS will certainly be suspicious at first. But this does not mean your application will be denied. Whether USCIS approves your application depends on whether you can convince USCIS that you have a legitimate marital relationship and a plan to live together.
If you and your spouse do not live together currently, you should ask yourself these questions:
Should I apply now or later?
You should first decide if you should actually submit your application now or later. If you and your spouse live far apart and do not see each other very often, you might not want to file your application yet. It might be safer to wait until you have a definite plan to start living together in the near future before you submit your application.
Do you have a plan to start living together?
If you work full time in California and your spouse works full time in Florida and you have no definite plan to move in together, it will be extremely difficult to convince a USCIS officer that you have a genuine marriage relationship. On the other hand, if you have already planned to move in with your spouse after you graduate next year, that will show the USCIS officer that you are serious about your marital relationship.
How often do you see each other? And can you prove it?
If you live separately and see each other only twice a year, it will be very difficult to convince a USCIS officer you have a genuine marital relationship. But if you visit each other every weekend, the USCIS officer will probably see that you have a genuine relationship. In this scenario, you should keep any documentary evidence that shows how often you visit each other, including: plane tickets, bus tickets, time-stamped photos, emails, and any other relevant documents.
In sum, if you have a good reason for living separately and can show the USCIS officer that you visit each other often and have a definite plan to start living together, you should be able to obtain a green card.
ImmiFree.Law is The Harrison Law Firm P.C.’s online platform to make the family immigration and naturalization process more efficient, accurate, and affordable. Baya Harrison, Esq. is an attorney licensed in New York, Florida, and California. Attorney Harrison has helped numerous individuals and families navigate the U.S. immigration process, specifically family-based petitions and naturalization.