Will I be accused of marriage fraud? What are some red flags?

As discussed in my previous post, marriage to a US citizen has some great benefits.  Now we’ll turn to what USCIS may view as indicators that your marriage may not be genuine.  These issues may result in a request for evidence (RFE) or a notice of intent to deny (NOID).

1. You do not live with your spouse.  This arrangement happens for many reasons.  For instance, perhaps you work in one location but your spouse lives and works in another location.  Or you spouse may be caring for a sick relative or visiting the hospital regularly themselves for treatment and living apart may be necessary for a temporary time or a longer duration.  

In this situation you want to be honest about your reasons for living apart and you want to be clear about your intentions.  Do not let any USCIS officer intimidate you if you know your reasons for living apart are genuine, just make sure to document those reasons and provide them with all evidence at your earliest opportunity to do so (an addendum or explanation sheet in your original application with evidence attached is the first opportunity to explain the situation).

2. Having marital problems before the interview

This can happen to anyone.  You applied for your green card right after your marriage when everything was great and six or seven months later when you need to go to your interview it feels like things are falling apart.  Although the interview is not a marriage counseling session, talk to your partner about it and be honest in the interview that you are working through the rough patch in your relationship.  If you try to cover it up and act lovey dovey when that is not how you are feeling it might look fake or forced or you might even look evasive when taking your time to answer questions in a politically correct way when an honest answer would have been more forthright.  The important part is mentioning what you are doing to hold the marriage together, ex. are you attending counseling? Also, think about having an attorney there with you.  Although it is not required for interviews, if you are having problems in your marriage you may want the added safety of having another person there to document what happened in the interview and to argue on your behalf at some point about the genuine nature of your relationship.  

Bring evidence with you to show that you went into the relationship with the right intentions and document the problems that you have been having.

3. Other common issues that can seem suspicious to USCIS officers:

  • Large age difference
  • Language barrier
  • Practicing different religions
  • Multiple past marriages
  • US Citizen spouse has filed immigration petitions for other people
  • Divorce right before the current marriage
  • Dated for less than 6 months before the current marriage
  • Children from a previous relationship to one spouse

Not all of these situations will result in additional questions, but you should be prepared to explain these apparent discrepancies to the officer incase they ask you about it.  If you have been studying your spouse’s language and they are taking classes in yours, then explain that to them.  If you had been married since the 1980s but were separated for a large amount of that time before meeting someone new and finally deciding to file for divorce, then explain that to them.  Make sure that you tell the officer your reasons for being comfortable in your relationship--but also make sure that you do not fall into the trap of answering questions that they did not ask you.  Figure out what information it is that they are looking for and tell them your experience for that particular point in your own works.

I hope this information helps.  As always, if you have additional questions feel free to contact me.