US Visa: Good Faith Marriage and Marriage Fraud

Do immigration officers presume that a marriage is based on good faith?

The basic presumption of a marriage based petition is that the marriage is fraudulent unless the parties of the petition can overcome the presumption with evidence. Marriage is generally the easiest route to immigration into the United States. This invites individuals who attempt to enter into sham marriages because of friendship or money. U.S. Immigration has placed marriage fraud high on its list for enforcement.

Those who have been found as a participant in marriage fraud face imprisonment and a civil fine. The immigrant will be deported and blacklisted making it nearly impossible to obtain any future U.S. Visa or permanent resident status. The harshest penalties will be placed on those who have been found guilty of a conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government. Those found guilty can be imprisoned for up to 10 years.

What factors do immigration officers look at when determining whether a marriage is a sham?

The immigration officer will look at many factors including

  • if there is a large disparity in the age of the petitioner and the beneficiary,
  • if the petitioner and the beneficiary can speak in a common language,
  • if friends/family are aware and supportive the of the marriage,
  • if the marriage has been arranged,
  • if the beneficiary is or has been targeted for removal by the immigration officers,
  • if the parties have been cohabiting since the marriage,
  • if the beneficiary is a friend of the family, and
  • if the petitioner has previously file immigration petitions especially for previous spouses.

Immigration examiners have been instructed not to inquire about extremely personal matters such as details of sexual relations but can ask questions regarding frequency and dates or places of sexual relations.

See Siam Legal’s K-3 Spouse visa application page to apply for K-3 Spouse visa.

Are there additional obstacles placed on immigration fraud?

There is an old saying that “getting married is easy but staying married is hard.” Applying this wisdom to the immigration code, the United States requires the some marriage based immigrants to prove that they are still in a committed marriage relationship two years after receiving their permanent resident status.

Marriage based immigrants who have been married for less than two years at the time of the decision receive conditional Permanent Residency status. They are required to submit additional evidence of their commingled lives by the second anniversary of receipt of their immigration status. In addition, the couple may face a second interview. The immigrant will have to prove that they are still in a committed marriage or if the marriage was terminated, show clearly that the marriage was entered into good faith.

In addition, the U.S. Immigration office may move on its own to terminate the an immigrant’s conditional permanent residency status if it can prove that the marriage was legally invalid, the marriage was terminated or annulled as a result of the death of the spouse, the marriage was a sham, or a fee was paid (other than attorney fees) for the filing of the immigration petition.

To apply for a U.S. green card or CR-1 visa, see: Should We Apply For A K3 Visa Or CR-1 Visa?


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