The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Division (ICE) have prioritized putting a stop to fraudulent marriages. These occur when a foreign national marries a United States citizen to secure a green card.
Marriage fraud is determined by:
- A USCIS interview
- The Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID)
When facing such accusations, having a reputable immigration attorney advocating for your rights and your marriage could make all the difference.
Removal of Conditional Resident Status
It is common for USCIS officials to review marriage-based visas and requests for the removal of conditional residence status. However, before they will grant these petitions, the applicant must show they have met the burden of proof based on a preponderance of the evidence.
This means people seeking marriage-based immigrant petitions are required to prove based on a preponderance of the evidence that their marriage is valid. If at any point USCIS officers have reason to believe or suspect a marriage is invalid, then the petition for removal of conditional resident status or green card will be denied.
However, if USCIS officials feel confident the marriage is legitimate, then permanent resident status or removal of conditional resident status can be granted.
Determining Marriage Fraud
The process of determining a marriage is fraudulent generally occurs during an interview with USCIS officials. Generally, interviews are scheduled within two years of the marriage-based visa application being filed. However, the amount of time it will take for your interview to occur can vary widely depending on many factors, including USCIS priorities.
During your interview, you and your spouse will be required to take an oath before USCIS officers, where you promise to tell the truth regarding your marriage. Interviewers will then ask you and your spouse questions to determine the validity of your marriage.
At this point, withheld from your attorney, you can produce evidence proving your marriage is legitimate. Some questions USCIS officials may ask include:
- How you and your spouse met
- How your spouse proposed
- Who attended your wedding
- When the wedding occurred
- How long you have been in love
- A description of your shared home
- What you made as a family for dinner the evening prior to the interview
Notice of Continuance
Once the interview ends, USCIS officers will be required to issue a “Notice of Continuance” that indicates your case is being reviewed so USCIS officials can perform additional security checks and review the evidence to determine the validity of your marriage.
At this point, USCIS officials also have the authority to request additional evidence to support your case. If they suspect you did not provide enough evidence you and your spouse are living together as a married couple, they may request additional evidence to support these facts, such as vacation photos, copies of joint bills, copies of joint bank records, and more.
Methods to Investigate Marriage Fraud
There are multiple ways USCIS officials can go about investigating the legitimacy of a marriage. Generally, investigations will only commence when USCIS officials have a reason to suspect a marriage is invalid.
Some methods used by USCIS investigators to determine marriage fraud include:
- Reviewing both spouses’ social media accounts
- Delaying a decision for multiple years to see whether the marriage ends overtime
- Questioning neighbors, family, or others about the couple and their cohabitation agreement
If USCIS officials determine the marriage is fraudulent, they will mail you a document called a Notification of Intent to Deny (NOID). Here, you will have 30 days to provide additional evidence your marriage is valid or risk marriage fraud criminal charges, or deportation.
What Happens When the NOID Contains Allegations of Marriage Fraud?
If you receive a NOID due to suspicion of marriage fraud, you can refute these allegations. With help from your marriage fraud attorney, you can gather additional evidence to prove marriage fraud does not exist. However, if years have passed, it may be difficult for you to present the case needed to prove your marriage is legitimate based on a preponderance of the evidence.
Understanding how USCIS will handle claims of marriage fraud and decide whether your marriage is valid could have a significant impact on how you move forward with your case.
Fortunately, you do not have to go at it alone. You can take steps to protect yourself and your spouse from marriage fraud allegations by retaining an immigration attorney as soon as possible.
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Get Help from a Marriage Fraud Attorney Today
It is important you act immediately once you discover you or your spouse is accused of marriage fraud. Protect your citizenship status and your future when you contact a marriage fraud attorney at the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg.
You can reach our firm by phone or through our convenient contact form for a confidential consultation as soon as today.