General Fraud Indicators Part I

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What are some of the general fraud indicators the USCIS uses? Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States at our office here in St. Louis, Missouri.

This is our fourth video in our seven-part series on the fraud referral sheet, which we obtained from some friends through the Freedom of Information Act. It’s a document that’s used by USCIS to send a case of the fraud unit. We previously covered what the fraud referral sheet was used for and the general behavior fraud indicators. Now we’re going over some of the general fraud indicators that USCIS has listed, not the behavioral ones, but just the types of cases or things that make them interested in seeing if this is a fraudulent case.

The first one, documents issued immediately before the interview. A lot of times cases will be pending a long time, and you should be using that time to make your case stronger, developing documents almost on a daily basis. Just what pictures do I have? What documents came in the mail? What kind of evidence do I have to show that we have this life together? We spent this time together? So if a couple just generates a bunch of documents right before the interview, that’s going to be a problem. That’s going to be something that might send your case to the fraud unit.

Another one is if the documents are issued immediately after the interview. A lot of times an officer will reveal what they think is wrong with your case. They might tell you, “Well, I don’t see much of this type of evidence or much of that type of evidence.” Then, all of a sudden, the couple will swing into action and generate all that kind of evidence.

Now I think this one is sort of unfair. I think a lot of people after the interview say, “Oh, yeah, that would’ve been a good idea. We should’ve done that.” Or they know that a request for evidence is coming, so they start gathering the evidence. Well, of course you do that, and that shouldn’t be necessarily a reason to send your case to the fraud unit.

The next one, over-submissions. Now this one is killer. So often USCIS likes to criticized applicants for not submitting enough evidence. And now they’re saying that you’ve overly-submitted, you submitted too much evidence. So it seems to me they’re trying to have it both ways. They’re saying, “Well, this couple over here didn’t submit enough evidence. This couple over here submitted too much evidence.”

I’m not a big believer in over-submissions being a problem. I suppose that if it’s way, way, way over the top, it might lead to some greater questions. But I think, overall, listing over submissions as a reason that fraud might be present is stupid. So that’s sort of a dumb one.

The next one, explicit, proactive or staged photographs. Let’s talk about explicit photographs. Now, you never want to send USCIS any explicit photos. It’s okay to show you in sort of a lovey, lovey kind of a thing, but nothing sexual, nothing explicit, no nudity. You never want to send nudity to USCIS. We’ve actually had clients send us stuff that we decided not to include in the application. That usually involves an interesting discussion around the water cooler about clients who send us nakedness, and that’s not something you want to do, even to your immigration lawyer. We just put that away and didn’t send that in.

But also, besides explicit, they talked about proactive or staged photos. A staged photo is one that doesn’t look like any normal person would do it. It looks like it was just generated for the case. We’ve had situations where couples have taken a few pictures in the same pair of clothes and tried to act like it was different days. Don’t do any of that stuff. The photos should be natural, and they should involve other people, and they should involve you and your significant other, if this is a marriage case. Those kinds of situations are always going to cause trouble.

All right. Suspect tax filings or financial transactions. USCIS spends a lot more time these days looking at financial transactions, both in the bank statements that you submit in support of the marriage and in the tax returns and tax transcripts. They are all over people who aren’t paying their taxes correctly, who are trying to trick the IRS. We’ve had cases referred to the IRS. So you want to make sure that whatever’s in your financial documents, that you can explain it.

My wife Amany recently had a case that was getting ready to go out the door, and there was a big cash deposit from the beneficiary into the petitioner’s case, on a spouse case. So this is the foreign national putting a bunch of money in the bank account of the US citizen. Now we had an explanation for it. They were buying a house, and they were putting their money together before they deposited the check. But that’s the kind of thing that can look suspicious. So you have to be able to explain all your financial transactions and your documents, and you really need to go over it line by line.

All right. The next one is multiple applications or petitions by a single applicant or petitioner. Now this can be a real problem. If someone has sponsored someone for a green card before, they’re going to be held to a higher standard if they try to do it again. Or if someone has sponsored someone and they got their citizenship, and then they got divorced, and then they reapplied, that’s going to be a problem.

Or we’ve seen it the other way. You have someone overseas who married Person A. That case ultimately got denied and now they’re married to Person B, that can also lead to a referral to the fraud unit. Those are the kinds of things that make cases harder to get approved.

So a lot of the information in here is, is it does go to what they look at as fraud, but it also goes to what’s going to make a case be harder to get approved.

The last one is a common preparer who is known or suspected by the fraud unit are under investigation. I tell people all the time that if you use a lawyer who’s shady, who has a bad reputation, even if you have the strongest case possible, that might make your case more likely to be referred to the fraud unit. If you have that as a situation where you have a scummy lawyer, that’s going to make your case harder to get approved.

Those are the first seven general fraud indicators the USCIS uses when an officer is trying to figure out whether or not to send their case to the fraud unit. We will send out another video tomorrow covering the other seven, and we hope you found this helpful.

If you have questions about this, give us a call at (314) 961-8200. You can email us infoathackinglawpractice.com. Be sure to join us in our Facebook group, which is called Immigrant Home. If you liked this video, please be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel so that you get updates whenever we make videos, just like this one.

Thanks a lot. Have a great day.