How to Overcome Marriage Fraud: Overview

“How to overcome marriage fraud?” USCIS concluding that your marriage is fraudulent is not the way that you want to start your immigration journey. Some marriages are a complete sham and USCIS is on the lookout for those. However, there are bona fide marriages that USCIS erroneously misclassify as fake and this article will discuss ways to overcome it.

Avoid a Marriage Fraud Finding in the First Place

When USCIS concludes that your marriage is fraudulent, this means that it found that: (1) you knowingly entered into a marriage; (2) the marriage was entered into for the purpose of evading a provision of the immigration laws; and (3) you knew or had reason to know of the immigration laws. The penalty for marriage fraud is either imprisonment for not more than 5 years, a fine of not more than $250,000 or both.

If you present a weak case to USCIS, with very little documentation, it is likely that USCIS could misclassify your case as fraudulent. To avoid this, either don’t file until you have solid evidence that you intend to establish a life with your spouse or present the evidence in such a way that it is impossible for USCIS to conclude that your marriage is fraudulent. A skilled immigration attorney can help you greatly and could make the difference.

How to Overcome Marriage Fraud? Appeal the Decision

Each year, USCIS makes a decision on over 500,00 I-130 petitions. Some of these petitions are family-sponsored and some are marriage-based. USCIS doesn’t always get it right, so you should exercise your right to appeal. You have 30 days to appeal an adverse decision and where to file your appeal is stated in the Notice of Decision. You can present new evidence in your appeal. When you appeal, you are saying that USCIS made a mistake when it classified your marriage as fraudulent.

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Submit Evidence to Overcome the Prior Marriage Bar

When you file your second petition, USCIS will revisit the prior marriage bar. A marriage fraud bar attaches for life and will prevent other petitions from being approved, unless you successfully get the decision overturned. Submit evidence to overcome this finding. This can be evidence that was never previously available or evidence that you had but never sent with your first petition. A closed joint bank account does not mean the statements are lost forever. Some banks are still able to provide you with this critical piece of evidence. Photographs and text messages that are on malfunctioning devices may be recovered by data recovery specialists. Third-party affidavits attesting to the genuineness of your marriage can still be written, even if you got divorced and some time has elapsed.

Apply for Immigration Benefits that Can be Approved Despite the Bar

A marriage fraud bar prevents subsequent petitions from being approved but not every permanent residence application requires a petition. If you are eligible for an immigration benefit that can be granted, despite the bar, you should apply. Some examples are T and U non-immigrant visas, asylum and cancellation of removal, all of which can lead to permanent residence. VAWA requires a petition and would not work with a marriage fraud bar.

Immigration Attorney

My name is Cheryl Fletcher and I have been an immigration attorney, since 2015. I help families, employers and investors realize their American dream. I would like to opportunity to hear about your immigration case and give you my honest legal opinion on how I may be able to help you. At the end of a 30-minute consultation with me, you should walk away with a clear understanding of your case and the way forward. Get the peace of mind you deserve.

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