Musings on Immigration

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If I don't have enough evidence that my marriage to a U.S. Citizen or a Resident is real, can immigration accuse me of marriage fraud?


You SHOULDN'T be accused of committing marriage fraud just for lack of evidence, but that doesn't mean this never happens!

There is a difference between lack of evidence of a real marital relationship (or lack of bona fides) and

 Under immigration law, a foreign national must prove to Immigration Services (USCIS) that his or her marriage to a U.S. Citizen or a Legal Permanent Resident is real and is not entered solely for the purpose of obtaining an immigration benefit. Besides the famous marriage interview that couples usually have to undergo, they also have to submit documentary evidence of their relationship (for example, utility bills on both of the spouses' names, joint bank accounts and other joint financial responsibilities, family pictures, children's birth certificates, letters from family and friends attesting to the validity of the couple's marriage, etc.). 

 
Some couples have an honest struggle finding evidence of a bona fide marriage for several reasons:

- They have not been married for very long, so they do not own anything jointly yet;

- They have no children together;

- They have bad credit or are too young to own many assets or have enough financial responsibilities;

- They are on some sort of disability leave and are earning no income;

- The couple does not live in the same city (or even the same country);

- They belong to a culture where arranged marriages are commonplace; etc.

 
These couples will undoubtedly have a harder time proving that their marriage is valid for immigration standards. But the lack of evidence does not in itself means that there exists down fraud in these relationships; however, because each application will be looked at by a different immigration officer, there is always the possibility that that particular officer will think there may be fraud involved--even if this an incorrect assumption. To avoid this, it is crucial to prepare a strong application to be filed with USCIS. There is always different type of evidence that a couple can submit with their application, but it will depend on the specifics of the couple's story and their living arrangements. An attorney can help prepare a strong application that includes evidence tailored to your particular circumstances.

 
Finally, having an attorney present at an immigration interview for a couple who does not have a lot of evidence is always a good precautionary measure that helps your chance of success.

Shirley Zambrano
Immigration Attorney
404-949-8177

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