When a U.S. citizen marries and sponsors a non-citizen spouse for an immigrant visa or green card, you can expect that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will examine their application very closely. Marriage fraud is a common way that immigrants and their citizen sponsors try to obtain legal residency and entry to the U.S., so immigration authorities are on the lookout for red flags that a relationship isn’t what it seems.
Red Flags of Marriage Fraud
The USCIS looks for several factors when evaluating a spouse or fiancé visa or a marriage-based green card. These 18 factors may cause the USCIS to take a closer look at your application:
1.No shared language. If you and your spouse do not have a shared language, the USCIS may question how you were able to communicate well enough to form a relationship, much less a marriage.
2.Age difference. Difference in age isn’t uncommon for many married couples, but a vast difference, paired with other red flags, may cause your application to be re-examined. It may be interpreted as a compromise by someone who is interested in obtaining a green card or is getting paid to help their spouse to do so.
3.Difference in religion. Inter-religion marriages do occur, but the USCIS is well aware that religion is often a fundamental feature of a person’s worldview and lifestyle. The may review your application further if you and your spouse hold different beliefs.
4.Different social classes or backgrounds. People with different levels of wealth or who occupy different places in society can marry, but you can expect that the USCIS will have further questions for you.
5.Difference in race. Interracial marriages are on the rise, but the USCIS tends to take a closer look when basic characteristics vary between spouses.
6.Unequal education. Often, people seek someone with a similar educational background to form a relationship. If your educations vary greatly, your application may require further review.
7.Different addresses. In most marriages, couples tend to live together. You may be apart for school or work, but you will need a solid explanation for your different addresses.
8.Opposite schedules. If you and your spouse occupy the same home, but hold opposite schedules, immigration officials may wonder if this is a purposeful way to limit interaction.
9.Secret marriage. Many couples include their families in their relationship. If your families and friends don’t know about your marriage, the USCIS may wonder if your marriage is real.
10.Convenient timing. If your marriage occurs when one spouse is facing or is about to face removal proceedings, you can definitely expect to be questioned about it. The same goes for a spouse whose visa is expiring soon.
11.Attempts to create evidence of a shared life. As people grow together and build a relationship, they tend to intertwine their lives naturally. You will be asked to provide evidence of your shared life, and if these records are recently dated, you may have to explain it.
12.Marriage soon after meeting. Love at first sight may be real, but the USCIS will take a second look at applications that feature a short relationship.
13.Marriage soon after divorce. This can indicate a short courtship, or a long affair. Neither option is an excellent one, but you can expect that you will need to provide evidence.
14.History of a U.S. petitioner sponsoring spouses. If the U.S. citizen has sponsored other spouses, it can be suspicious.
15.Noncitizen comes from a country with a history of immigration fraud. It may not be your fault, but you can expect extra attention if your spouse comes from a country that has a history of immigration fraud.
16.No children. If the female spouse is of childbearing age, a lack of children may look suspicious, especially when paired with other red flags.
17.Impoverished spouse. If one spouse is in a significantly different financial situation, it may appear that the marriage is meant to receive money or a green card, rather than meant for love.
18.Criminal history. If either spouse has a criminal history, you will definitely receive a close examination from the USCIS.
Some of these factors may be present in legitimate marriages, but it is important to remember that a pattern of red flags will arise suspicion. If you are not able to prove your marriage is legitimate, your application may be denied.
Couples may be unfairly targeted for their differences, which is why our San Jose immigration attorneys are ready to help you with the immigration process. This stressful and complex application process can take its toll, but our team at Verma Law Firm will be with your every step of the way. Learn how we can help you today.