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Red Flags in Marriage-Based Immigration Petitions


There are several things to consider when applying for a U.S. green card based on marriage. USCIS officers who adjudicate marriage-based cases are always on alert for discrepancies that may indicate marriage fraud—marriage solely for the purpose of obtaining a U.S. green card.


Below, we’ll talk about a few of the most common red flags—fraud indicators—that can cause an immigration officer to suspect marriage fraud and how to address them.


Language Differences

If a couple does not speak the same language, an officer will question how they are able to communicate and build a life together.


Large Age Gap

If there is a large age gap between the spouses, particularly if a wife is much older than her husband, it is likely the officer will question the authenticity of the relationship.


No Shared Address

Particularly when both parties live in the same country, not living together will raise concerns for the adjudicating officer.


Manufacturing Evidence

If a couple provides evidence dated just before submitting their Adjustment of Status petition or just before their Interview, the officer will question whether the evidence was created solely for the purpose of the petition and not in effort to join their lives together.


Short Courtship

Getting married shortly after meeting (within a few weeks or months) can cause the immigration officer to question whether the marriage was entered into genuinely or if it was specifically for money or immigration purposes.


Timing of Marriage

Getting married once an urgent matter arises—partner’s non-immigrant visa is soon to expire or they are placed in removal proceedings—will raise red flags with an immigration officer.


Differences in Basic Characteristics/Beliefs

Couples who have different cultural or religious backgrounds, social class, race, and/or unequal backgrounds in education or finances can raise questions with the immigration officer.


How to (Hopefully) Avoid Suspicions of Marriage Fraud

For immigration purposes, a couple’s intent at the time of marriage is incredibly important. The couple will have to show they intended, from the beginning, to build a life together. The best way to do this is to provide evidence from the initial dating stages to marriage and up until the present time when the Adjustment of Status petition is being submitted.


Evidence should include dates as much as possible—especially for communications, account statements, and photos—to clearly show the length of time the couple has been active in each other’s lives. Opening new accounts during the Adjustment of Status process is not discouraged, but the couple will need to explain why the accounts were not opened before that time, especially if the couple has been married for some time prior to submitting the Adjustment of Status petition.


It is important to note that any information a couple provides in their petition or tells the adjudicating officer during their interview will need to be accompanied by solid evidence. If it cannot be demonstrated with evidence, it is possible the officer over the case will not consider the information.


When red flags are present in a case, the couple must work extra hard to prove a bona fide marriage. Clearly, any or many of the above factors that officers consider red flags to marriage fraud might be present in a perfectly real marriage. Also, couples whose cases present no red flags could nevertheless be given a hard time by U.S. immigration officers.


The best course of action to avoid accusations of marriage fraud when submitting a marriage-based immigration petition is to consult with a qualified Immigration Attorney. A qualified Attorney will have experience navigating the complex immigration system and can advise you on the best way to obtain the immigration relief you are seeking.


If you have questions about a marriage-based immigration petition, call us at 321-325-1125, text us at 321-204-7718, or use our online contact form to begin scheduling your Case Evaluation with Attorney Peterkin.

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