Getting married to obtain a green card or U.S. citizenship is against the law. When you have been arrested or detained and are facing marriage fraud accusations, understanding the legal timeline of what to expect next is imperative.
The legal timeline involves fact-checking your information, interviews, and more. With help from an attorney, you could prove the validity of your marriage, avoid the fallout of a marriage fraud conviction, and potentially save your citizenship status.
How Marriage Fraud Is Defined
It is important to understand what constitutes a sham marriage. Any marriage that a foreign national or United States citizen enters to obtain a green card or visa is considered fraudulent.
It does not matter whether the foreign national deceived the United States citizen or the United States citizen married the foreign national as a favor or for money. Unless the couple plans to have a true marital relationship and spend their lives together, the marriage could be considered fraudulent.
What Is a “Normal” Marriage?
It is also important to understand what the United States government would consider a “normal” marriage. Some ways the U.S. government is going to be monitoring your marriage for validity include:
- Whether you and your spouse go on vacation together
- Whether you and your spouse engage in intimate sexual relations
- Whether you and your spouse decide to have children
- Whether you and your spouse have shared interests or things in common
- Whether you and your spouse live together
- Whether you and your spouse share finances
- Whether you and your spouse co-own property
- Whether you and your spouse celebrate important moments in each other’s lives together
What Happens When the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Suspects Marriage Fraud?
Once USCIS and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have reason to believe a marriage is invalid, they may decide to open an investigation or place a hold on the marriage-based visa application.
Detecting Marriage Fraud
Unfortunately, the burden of proof is on the married couple to prove the validity of their marriage. This means you and your spouse should be prepared to provide USCIS officials with documentation of your marriage and proof of its validity.
You might present USCIS officials with copies of your children’s birth certificates, joint bank account statements, photos from your marriage, social media posts, and more.
You can expect USCIS officials to review your visa application in detail, request you and your spouse sit in at a visa or green card interview, and answer in-depth questions regarding the personal details of your marriage.
Fact-Checking Your Information
The United States government has the authority to place couples under surveillance if they believe marriage fraud is occurring. This may involve speaking with your friends, obtaining statements from your neighbors and other witnesses, interviewing your boss, and speaking with other people who may have some insight into your relationship with your spouse.
USCIS officials have begun fact-checking information given to them by couples, including checking dates given to them by spouses, going online and scouring the internet for personal information, and checking visa applications for discrepancies.
Agreeing to a Second Interview
If your initial interview with USCIS officials does not go as intended, they may request you submit to what is commonly known as a “Stokes interview.” Here, instead of sitting in with your spouse, you will be questioned by USCIS officials one on one.
You will then be asked a variety of questions to determine whether you and your spouse are telling the truth about the validity of your marriage.
Being Granted Conditional Residence
United States immigration laws also allow for two-year testing. This is for couples who have been married for two years or less and are seeking green card or immigration visas. When this happens, you could be granted a “conditional residence.”
Here, both spouses must sign Form I-751, which once again states the marriage is ongoing and legitimate. If your marriage is found to be invalid or fraudulent after the fact, your immigration status could be in jeopardy, you could be deported, and you could be facing criminal charges for marriage fraud.
Reach Out to a Marriage Fraud Attorney for Help Today
Marriage fraud in the United States is a serious offense. If you have been accused of entering a fraudulent marriage, and you do not know where to turn for help, connect with a marriage fraud lawyer at the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg for a confidential review of your case.
You can get started as soon as today when you call our firm or complete our secured contact form. A team member is standing by to hear your case’s details and discuss your options with you. We could fight for you and turn things around.