At the I-485 stage, a copy of each applicant’s foreign birth certificate or sufficient secondary evidence of birth must be submitted to establish the applicant’s country of citizenship for visa chargeability, identity, and existence of derivative relationships. Each foreign birth certificate must include a certified English translation.
Check the Department of State’s Country Reciprocity Schedule to determine availability of birth certificates as well as acceptable secondary evidence of birth for specific countries.
There are certain situations where an applicant may not be able to provide the required primary evidence but may be able to submit secondary evidence. When submitting secondary evidence, an applicant must establish that the required primary document is unavailable or does not exist.
To establish that a required primary document is unavailable or does not exist, an applicant must submit letters of certification of non-existence issued by the appropriate civil authority. These letters must:
- Be an original written statement from a civil authority on official government letterhead;
- Establish the nonexistence or unavailability of the document;
- Indicate the reason the record does not exist; and
- Indicate whether similar records for the time and place are available.
Certification of non-existence from a civil authority is not required where the Department of State’s Reciprocity Schedule indicates this type of document generally does not exist.
If an applicant is unable to obtain a letter of certification of non-existence issued by the appropriate civil authority, the applicant or petitioner may submit evidence that repeated good faith attempts were made to obtain the required documentation.
Once an applicant has demonstrated that a required primary document is unavailable, the applicant may submit appropriate secondary evidence, such as church or school records pertaining to the facts at issue.
If an applicant has demonstrated unavailability of both a required primary and secondary document, the applicant must submit at least two affidavits, or sworn written statements, pertaining to the facts at issue. Such affidavits must be given by:
- Persons who are not parties to the underlying petition; and
- Persons who have direct personal knowledge of the events and circumstances in question.
In order for an applicant to meet his or her burden of proof, the evidence must be probative and credible. For these reasons, an affidavit should include:
- The full name, address, and contact information of the affiant (person giving the sworn statement), including his or her own date and place of birth, and relationship (if any) to the applicant;
- Full information concerning the facts at issue; and
- An explanation of how the affiant has direct personal knowledge of the relevant events and circumstances.
Affidavits that cannot be verified carry no weight in proving the facts at issue.
Persons submitting affidavits may be relatives of the applicant and do not necessarily have to be U.S. citizens.
The affidavits that appear below are all slightly different from each other and a.re intended to be used in different situations.
- Name Not The first situation in which a birth affidavit might be required is if a birth certificate is available, but the child’s name was not recorded on the certificate.
- No Birth Certificate The second situation occurs when there is simply no birth certificate available. In this case one must sometime obtain a “certificate of nonavailability” from a competent governmental authority confirming that the certificate does not exist, or no longer exists.
- Affidavit if Parents arc The third affidavit may be used when either one or both of parents is/are deceased. Again, this affidavit must be completed by persons familiar with the circumstances of the birth who must be older than the person for whom the affidavit is being completed.
We are also attaching a sample of a “Certificate of Nonavailability.”