Any non-citizen of the U.S. who enters a marriage to a U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident for the sole or primary purpose of obtaining permanent residence (a green card) is deemed to have engaged in marriage fraud and is subject to various immigration law consequences. Marriage fraud is included in the grounds of deportability at Immigration and Nationality Act (I.N.A.) § 237(a)(1)(G), or 8 U.S.C. § 1227(a)(1)(G). To be deemed to have engaged in “marriage fraud,” the person must enter into a marriage for the sole or primary purpose of evading U.S. immigration law. Also, once you have fraud or misrepresentation on your record, you are inadmissible under I.N.A. § 212(a)(6)(C)(i), which means to be barred from eligibility from virtually any sort of U.S. visa or green card.
U.S. immigration law requires scrutiny of new marriages. Under the Immigration Marriage Fraud Amendments of 1986 (“IMFA”), an applicant whose marriage is less than 24 months old when he or she receives approval for a green card will receive only “conditional,” not permanent residence. This status expires after another two years. Within the 90 days before that two-year expiration date, the immigrant must apply to have the condition removed (on USCIS Form I-751) to become a full-fledged lawful permanent resident.
Since marriage fraud in the U.S. is prevalent, petitioners and beneficiaries have the burden to prove their marriage is a bona-fide good-faith marriage based on love and not for an immigration benefit. When trying to overcome a marriage fraud assumption by an officer, applicants should remember that three types of evidence may be gathered by the officer to ascertain whether it is a real marriage.
There will be an in-person interview with the immigration officer, beneficiary and petitioner. There are two types of evidences presented at the interview: (1) oral testimony by the petitioner and beneficiary, and (2) documentary evidence. When oral testimony is taken from the petitioner and beneficiary, the officer may separate the two during questioning or may interview them in the same room. If applicants have an attorney, the attorney shall be present during questioning by the officer. Documentary evidence are bills, statements, insurances, leases, etc. that prove the petitioner and beneficiary are living together and commingling finances. The third type of evidence the officer may examine is “bed checks” or on-site investigations an officer conducts at the home of the petitioner and beneficiary.
Lastly, an officer may cite fraud indicators or red flags such as cultural differences between the petitioner and beneficiary, language barriers, significant age difference, prior marriages when immigration benefits were obtained, etc. Marriage fraud is a serious allegation with lifetime consequences, do not the risk denial, deportation proceedings and future inadmissibility. Seek legal representation from an attorney who can prepare you for the interview, attend your interview and has experience dealing with possible marriage fraud allegations – contact Immigration Law Offices of Gail S. Seeram for your FREE consultation.
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