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Siam Sam

evidence of bona fide marriage (split topic)

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New member, first post. I hope it's okay to piggyback on the OP, but this is a concern for us as well. If I should start a separate thread, please let me know.

I'm an American man married to a Thai lady. We've been legally married for 22 years as of April 2016, living here in Bangkok the entire time. She's just retired after 30 years in a university position, so we're going to be going back to the US. (She lived in the US before on a Student Visa. We met in grad school.) She did take my surname upon becoming married.

We have our marriage certificate from here in Bangkok. She's also kept 10-year Tourist Visas in her passport for a couple of decades now, and those are largely based on out marriage, so at some level the US government has already recognized our marriage.

But further proof may be a little tricky. We own some property including the condo we live in, but it's all in her name, not jointly held due to Thailand's restrictive property ownership laws regarding foreigners. We've also kept our finances separate, also not uncommon in Thailand, so no joint bank accounts. We have not rented since 1996, so that's the last time our names appeared together on any kind of lease. We have no children, so no children's birth certificates to show. However, we are still in contact with the two witnesses when we registered our marriage at the district office in Bangkok. I'm planning to take them to the embassy and have them swear out an affidavit to that effect. But would this really be helpful? It's a lot of trouble, and if it won't help that much I'd prefer not to do it.

We also have copies of joint Thai tax returns filed in recent years, although we'll have to go get copies from the Tax Office if more than five years ago are required. Thailand did away with joint filing a couple of years ago, so we can't even do that anymore, but we do have to list spouses' names on the returns. And we do have two or three copies from the years just before they stopped joint filing. How far back should we show on tax returns? And we'll have to get the returns translated, but surely a line-by-line translation of the entire return would not be necessary? Would it be enough to translate the name of the form to show it was a tax return? Plus while my name is spelled in English letters, hers is rendered in the Thai alphabet, so that would be translated. How much else of the form would need to be translated?

We also have boarding passes and stuff from trips taken over the years, saves as souvenirs. I see upthread that we can obtain a record of entries to and exits from the US, and we have traveled there together several times over the years.

Thanks in advance for any advice.

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New member, first post. I hope it's okay to piggyback on the OP, but this is a concern for us as well. If I should start a separate thread, please let me know.

I'm an American man married to a Thai lady. We've been legally married for 22 years as of April 2016, living here in Bangkok the entire time. She's just retired after 30 years in a university position, so we're going to be going back to the US. (She lived in the US before on a Student Visa. We met in grad school.) She did take my surname upon becoming married.

We have our marriage certificate from here in Bangkok. She's also kept 10-year Tourist Visas in her passport for a couple of decades now, and those are largely based on out marriage, so at some level the US government has already recognized our marriage.

But further proof may be a little tricky. We own some property including the condo we live in, but it's all in her name, not jointly held due to Thailand's restrictive property ownership laws regarding foreigners. We've also kept our finances separate, also not uncommon in Thailand, so no joint bank accounts. We have not rented since 1996, so that's the last time our names appeared together on any kind of lease. We have no children, so no children's birth certificates to show. However, we are still in contact with the two witnesses when we registered our marriage at the district office in Bangkok. I'm planning to take them to the embassy and have them swear out an affidavit to that effect. But would this really be helpful? It's a lot of trouble, and if it won't help that much I'd prefer not to do it.

We also have copies of joint Thai tax returns filed in recent years, although we'll have to go get copies from the Tax Office if more than five years ago are required. Thailand did away with joint filing a couple of years ago, so we can't even do that anymore, but we do have to list spouses' names on the returns. And we do have two or three copies from the years just before they stopped joint filing. How far back should we show on tax returns? And we'll have to get the returns translated, but surely a line-by-line translation of the entire return would not be necessary? Would it be enough to translate the name of the form to show it was a tax return? Plus while my name is spelled in English letters, hers is rendered in the Thai alphabet, so that would be translated. How much else of the form would need to be translated?

We also have boarding passes and stuff from trips taken over the years, saves as souvenirs. I see upthread that we can obtain a record of entries to and exits from the US, and we have traveled there together several times over the years.

Thanks in advance for any advice.

Siam Sam,

No problem from my side...

I am definitely interested to know more about the tax returns options (without doing extensive technical translations).

My wife did include my name in all her IRS Federal tax returns "married filling separately" and we also filed jointly tax returns in Belgium.

Any answer to one of your questions might also be helpful for us.

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Thanks. I too did Married but Filing Separately on our US returns, and I have a few copies of those. She never did file US returns while over here though, as she had no US-taxable income and is not a US citizen. But her name is listed on the forms as my wife. (She does have a Social Security number from her university days in the US.)

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One more question, if I may. The plan has always been for me to go to Hawaii first and get things set up, my wife to follow along a month or two later. Will I be required to be present at her interview? At first I thought I must be, but the wording I've seen makes it sound like only she will. I've not made any hard plans yet, as I know it will be months before she even receives her Immigrant Visa. (Knock on Formica!) But I want to be sure and be here if I'm supposed to be.

Edited by Siam Sam

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New member, first post. I hope it's okay to piggyback on the OP, but this is a concern for us as well. If I should start a separate thread, please let me know.

***No, it is not ok to hijack threads started by other members. Post and replies to it split into separate thread; please start your own thread in the future with your own questions.***


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June 21, 2010: Engaged!!!
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So anyway, to recap, my main questions are twofold:

I'd like to know if joint tax returns are acceptable as proof of marriage and how much of the Thai form should be translated (surely a line-by-line translation is not required?) and if just a few from recent years would be okay (surely we shouldn't have to submit all 22 years' worth?).

And will I be required to be present here in Bangkok for my wife's interview?

Thanks in advance.

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Your proof of being married is your Thai marriage license, which you need to get translated.

Proof of being in a bonanfida relationship is pictures of you together, boarding passes/passport stamps of trips, any bills you might be jointly on etc.

Since you're living together in Thailand, look into doing DCF, which is a bit faster. And don't worry about not being put down as owner of your home, the US embassy in Thailand knows the rule and culture of the country.


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Thanks. Yes, we will be doing DCF here in Bangkok. We will have our marriage license translated, but they seem to want a bit more, like or names jointly on property or bills, and that's just not done here. Property's in the wife's name, our finances are separate, bills come addressed to her or me but not both. We do have years and years of photos, boarding passes etc together though.

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The US will recognize your foreign marriage – in fact, they already do on your tax returns – so long as it was legal and valid where performed and would be valid in the US (e.g., you weren't married to other people at the time). You already have the certificate translated, so you're set there.

If the affidavits from your witnesses are to encourage the US to accept your foreign marriage, they aren't needed. If they are a bit of extra evidence that others know you're married, the writers don't need to go to the embassy. They would just write what they know of your relationship and sign. (I believe there is a template around this forum.)

If joint property and bills are not done in Thailand, then Bangkok will know this and will not expect to see these as joint. You can still show that you live together and have lived together using whatever you have listing the joint address, like the bills that you mention.

Tax returns can be used as evidence, though someone else would have to give a recommendation on how many to send. I expect that the USCIS office in Bangkok will want everything translated to English. You might be able to submit documents in Thai for the consular portion of the process.

Include the trip evidence for the reasons you outline.

You are not required to be present at your wife's interview.

I think you have much more evidence than you think you do. My only suggestion is to include anything where the spouse is listed as beneficiary, like your wills.


2012: Married
2014 2016 2017: I-130 packet direct to Frankfurt

Frankfurt's "steps" to DCF:

Step 1: I-130 Petition Checklist (PDF, from their USCIS page)

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Thanks. We don't have bills with both our names on it. Just tax returns. That would be good if we didn't have to drag people down to the embassy. I'll look for those templates.

Sorry that wasn't clear. I was thinking of ways to show that you live together when you do not have a joint lease/deed.

The bills don't need to have both names on them to serve as evidence that you live together. They're somewhat important mail sent to each of you at the same address during the same time period (and perhaps are utilities, showing each of you contributing to the home).

Other possible ways to show that you live together: national IDs with the same home address (if that's a thing), address/family registrations with the government (if those are a thing), mail addressed to both of you, or similar evidence.

With the evidence, you're creating a picture of a bona fide marriage. No one thing will make or break that.


2012: Married
2014 2016 2017: I-130 packet direct to Frankfurt

Frankfurt's "steps" to DCF:

Step 1: I-130 Petition Checklist (PDF, from their USCIS page)

Step 2: Immigrant/Fiance(e) & K-Visa Applicant Checklist (PDF, from their Appointment & Interview page)

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Aha! Thanks. We were thinking in terms of bills having to have both names. But we can show some bills to me and some to her. All the utilities are in her name, but I have my cellphone and some US credit cards. In fact, we have a Thai credit card in which the my wife, as per Thai law, is the primary cardholder and me, the foreign spouse, is the secondary cardholder. We also have Christmas cards from the US saved dating back years that are addressed to us both.

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If the affidavits from your witnesses are to encourage the US to accept your foreign marriage, they aren't needed. If they are a bit of extra evidence that others know you're married, the writers don't need to go to the embassy. They would just write what they know of your relationship and sign. (I believe there is a template around this forum.)

Hi. Sorry, but I'm not finding the template in the Form Downloads or the Example Forms sections. Where should I be looking for it?

EDIT: Ah, sorry, scratch that. No sooner had I posted the above, then I found it! Thanks again though.

Edited by Siam Sam

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