Your marriage petition could be in trouble if USCIS visits your home

Your marriage petition could be in trouble if USCIS visits your home

Marrying a US citizen is one of the fastest and most commonly known ways to obtain a green card. It is also subject to much fraud and abuse, where people will enter into a marriage of convenience with a U.S. citizen solely for immigration benefits. The U.S. citizen might be a friend willing to do the person a “favor”, or demands the payment of money to go through with the marriage and marital interview.

There may be cases where a couple is truly in love, but because of miscommunications, misunderstandings, confusion, anxiety, nervousness, answers that don’t match,  age or cultural difference, or not providing sufficient documentation, the immigration officer becomes suspicious it is a fixed marriage.

The couple may be asked to come back for a second or third interview. Their case could also be referred to USCIS’s Fraud Detection and National Security (FDNS) unit to make a site visit to the couple’s home.

If you are called back for a second or third interview, or USCIS visits your home, there can be no clearer sign that USCIS suspects you are in a fixed marriage, even if yours is a bona fide, love marriage. If that is your case, rather than trying to “repair” your marriage case on your own, have an attorney evaluate and salvage your case.

If FDNS comes to your house, it is typically an unannounced visit, usually early in the morning. During the visit, they want to observe and confirm both spouses are living in the same house. If you put down in your papers that both of you are living at the same address, but in reality one of the spouses is living elsewhere, this will only increase USCIS’s suspicions it’s a fixed marriage. (In fact, there may be a legitimate reason for not living together, such as work or school. But still, it creates the suspicion of a fixed marriage).

They will also be checking sleeping arrangements. Are both spouses sleeping in the same room and/or bed? Or, is one spouse sleeping in the bedroom, while the other sleeps on the living room couch? Does the couple have roommates living under the same roof, such as the US citizen’s ex-boyfriend or girlfriend? Are there pictures on the wall of the US citizen’s ex-boyfriend or girlfriend or ex-spouse?  Or are their pictures of the married couple together?

FDNS could also check your closets and medicine cabinets, to see if both your clothes are in the closet and if the medicine cabinet contains men’s and women’s care products, such as cologne for men and perfume for woman, shaver, etc. If the closets contain only one spouse’s articles of clothing, and the medicine cabinet contains only that spouse’s medications as well, it looks like you’re not living together.

FDNS could also knock on neighbors’ doors, and ask your neighbors if they are aware you are husband and wife. They may even be shown a picture of the couple. If the neighbors say they saw only one person living there alone, and they never saw the other person, it could also be a sign of a fixed marriage, and that you’re not really living together.

I want to emphasize that people should never enter into a fixed marriage. I know that there are stories of people who “got away with it,” but USCIS has become more sophisticated and their databases provide far more information than in the past. If you’re found in a fixed marriage, you are blacklisted for life, and no future petition can be approved on your behalf.

However, if you are truly in a bona fide, love marriage, and USCIS suspects it’s fixed, you should definitely seek the assistance of an attorney. Multiple interviews and site visits are clear signs of USCIS’s concerns over a fixed marriage. Having an attorney handle your case from the outset could greatly reduce the chances of suspicion, because the attorney could help you properly gather and package the relevant documentation, and clear up any confusion or miscommunication that may arise at your interview or in the processing of your case or petition.

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