How much time does Immigration spend looking at prior marriages?
Hi. I’m Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States out of our office here in St. Louis, Missouri, and I am back in the studio. I haven’t been in here in a while. It feels good to be back. And today we’re taking a question out of Immigrant Home. So if you don’t know, we have a Facebook group. It’s called Immigrant Home. And if you leave me a good question in there, I’ll probably turn it into a video. And we’re going to do that today with a question from Erica. Let me read it to you. Erica says, “My husband and I have a marriage-based I-130 interview next week.” So that means they’re trying to get a green card for either the husband or for Erica. Oh, here she says, “My husband is the immigrant. He was married before. He had his interview, and then two months later, he withdrew the petition because that marriage was not working anymore. How many details might they ask about that marriage? Or will they concentrate mostly on this current marriage?” And that again is from Erica inside our Immigrant Home group, which is in Facebook.
All right, Erica. So here’s what you need to think about. Number one, the Trump administration and current USCIS policy is to cause as much trouble, wreak as much havoc, and upset as many people as possible. They are looking for ways to make life harder for immigrants. And more importantly, they’re looking for ways to deny cases. So in this scenario, they are probably going to spend a lot of time looking at the prior marriage, especially because in the prior marriage an immigration benefit was sought. So if you had come to me and hired us at the outset, the first thing we would have done either right before we filed or right after we filed would have been to request a complete copy of the file on the old case of your husband’s entire immigration file, which would include the old application. So he and his ex-spouse would have gone through an interview on the application, and there’s probably officer notes. And it’d be interesting to see what was said on the prior I-130 and the prior I-45.
Obviously in this new case, you’re going to have to prove that he was legally divorced. But they’re going to dig in, I think they could reasonably deeply, into the prior marriage. Remember, they’re not doing it because they want to approve the case. They’re doing it because they want to figure out, “Oh, this guy’s just here to get an immigration benefit.” So as a lawyer working on a case like this, I would want to hear the husband’s entire immigration history. I would want to know, how did he get to the United States? What kind of a visa did he have? What did he tell the people at the embassy when he applied for that visa? And then once he got here, did he overstay? Did he just get married right away? Did he apply for an immigration benefit right away? And I would also wonder why did the divorce happen? Why did the marriage go south after the interview? Sometimes they think, “Well, they were only able hold it together for so long, and then everything fell apart.”
So this again also brings them to their favorite trick, which is to just sit on a case. So I doubt you’re going to get a decision on the day of. I also think you’re probably going to be separated, and I would anticipate that they’re going to ask you questions separately from your husband about his prior marriage. So you and he are really going to need to practice and be well prepared. I would bring an attorney to this interview. I would not go to one without it. I’m not trying to be alarmist or to scare you, but I do think that they’re going to spend a significant amount of time, mostly because he asked for an immigration benefit on that occasion. So if you have questions about this, or if anybody else is wondering how deeply do they look at a prior marriage when a new green card application based on marriage is filed, you should give us a call at (314) 961-8200. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to join us in our Facebook group, which is called Immigrant Home.
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