USCIS takes the issue of fraudulent or sham marriages very seriously. This video discusses the types of issues that get people in trouble and what triggers fraud investigations. We also discuss how to prepare for your interview so as to minimize the changes of a claim of fraud.
These fraudulent claims can lead to arrest, deportation and/or convictions.
What is a sham marriage and does it get me in trouble at USCIS?
Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, immigration attorney here in St. Louis, Missouri. Today we’re talking about sham marriages, fraudulent marriages, and what the test is at the Immigration Service into the validity of a marriage. There’s so many benefits that come with marrying a U.S. citizen beyond just getting a Green Card, that Immigration Service takes marriages cases very seriously. One of the things that they look out for are fraudulent marriages. We’ve never had a case in our office where we thought that the people who were applying were engaged in fraud, but we have studied the issue, and we’ve come across cases in the reports and in news stories about different immigration scams.
The Immigration Service takes these cases very seriously, and you should know that they have the right to really inquire into whether or not the marriage is legitimate. The real test is the subjective intent of the people at the time of the marriage. That is, were they intending to perpetrate a fraud on the Immigration Service so as to obtain immigration benefit for the person who is not the U.S. citizen? How do they do this? A lot of times in interviews, they’ll push pretty hard on the validity of the marriage. Some cases are very straight forward and it’s sort of a rudimentary inquiry into the validity of the marriage. With other cases, if they get a whiff of fraud, or if there are circumstances that demonstrate that the people might not be legitimate, then they go in a lot more aggressively asking lots of questions.
What are the factors that lead them to inquire? If the couple hasn’t known each other very long. If the non-citizen was up against an immigration deadline or is out of status, or if the story just doesn’t jive. We’ve heard of cases where the people didn’t even speak the same language. These are the kinds of cases where the people are radically different. The two people are so different that they don’t necessarily think that it’s a legit marriage. They’ll inquire heavily. They can separate people at interviews. We’ve had that happen before. A lot of people look on the internet and hear things about, “Well, do they inquire into what color your toothbrush is or what side of the bed one person sleeps on?”
They don’t really do that so much, but they will come pretty hard about, “How did you meet? What do you like to do together? Why was this marriage valid?” Those kinds of things. You really got to prepare well for these. You obviously don’t want to ever engage in any kind of immigration fraud. It’s a very serious matter. We’ve had people come to us after a finding of immigration fraud, and unless you can get that waived later on by the Immigration Service, immigration fraud in the marriage context can serve as the basis of a bar from any immigration relief in the future.
We had a young man who came to see us. His mother had been found to have engaged in immigration fraud 20 years ago. He was trying to bring her here as the mother of a U.S. citizen, and that got denied because of her prior fraud finding, so it’s very serious. The Immigration Service takes it very serious and so should you. If you have any questions about the kinds of things that Immigration asks about at the interview, or about what indications of fraud they usually find or look for, give us a call: 314-961-8200.