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How Is Marriage Fraud Determined?

It’s unlawful to get married with the sole intention of establishing permanent resident status through marriage in the United States. Although this might seem like a shortcut to getting a green card, there are a number of stiff penalties that all involved parties are likely to face if a marital union is determined to be fraudulent. Absent of any intentions to live with one another and start a shared life, couples may be subject to criminal prosecution and the denial of all in-progress immigration applications.

Red Flags That Indicate Marriage Fraud

The are a number of key factors that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) consider when determining whether or not a person’s marital status is legitimate or fraudulent. These include:
• The absence of a shared language
• Significant age differences
• Different cultural backgrounds and social classes
• Different races or religions
• Marked differences in educational histories or professional achievements
USCIS looks for common interests and other similarities that indicate legitimate reasons for wanting to get married outside of the ability to obtain U.S. citizenship. While these red flags do not automatically establish a marriage as fraudulent, USCIS maintains that they warrant further investigation. If couples cannot communicate with one another and do not have shared interests or histories to discuss, it is believed unlikely that they are seeking to cohabitate and honor the vows of marriage on the basis of emotions.

Documentation and Investigation

It is not common for the USCIS to tail couples or perform in-depth lifestyle investigations apart from the collection and review of supporting documentation. It is expected that married couples will have shared finances including joint credit cards and bank accounts, shared bill payments and shared leases or property ownership. When couples marry with the benefit of citizenship for non-nationals, investigation of these and other supporting documents will occur for up to two years. Moreover, although the USCIS does not usually follow couples around, they do have the legal authority to do so, especially if several red flags exist.

Shared Personal Lives

San Diego family immigration attorneys note that there are other factors beyond a well-documented and shared financial profile that the USCIS will consider. For instance, legitimate couples tend to establish bonds with each other’s family members and friends. They often go on to plan and build families of their own as well. Thus, it is definitely worthwhile for couples to establish and maintain these connections, particularly throughout the two-year review period. Although there is no clear-cut definition of what marriage fraud is, the USCIS does expect couples to engage in activities and behaviors that are indicative of normal married life.

If you, your significant other, or a family member needs help with immigration issues, please reach out to KS Visa Law in San Diego. We provide free immigration consultations and can assist with fiancé visas, family petitions, and a number of other immigration matters. Call us today at (858) 874-0711.

May 2024