Marriage fraud in the U.S. immigration system has always been a problem. In fact, it is one of the most common immigration issues the U.S. Customs and Immigration Services faces. The USCIS has safeguards in place to identify and prevent marriages based on fraud or to remove those who attempt to obtain green cards based on illicit marriages.
If you are seeking a green card based on your marriage to a U.S. citizen, be prepared for a challenging process. You may have to provide extensive documentation to prove that your marriage is genuine and not simply an instrument for obtaining the rights of permanent residency in the U.S.
Proving your marriage is valid
To live in the U.S. as the foreign national spouse of a U.S. citizen, you will have to obtain a conditional green card. You will live under the terms and conditions of this residency for two years, and at the end of that time, you and your spouse can apply to have the conditions removed from your green card. This will grant you the full rights of permanent residency in the U.S.
Applying to have your status adjusted to permanent residency involves providing USCIS agents with evidence that your marriage is valid and that you are in compliance with U.S. immigration laws. For example, you may have to demonstrate the following:
- That you are not legally married to another person besides your U.S. spouse; for example, having a death certificate or divorce papers from a former spouse
- That you are not a blood relative of your current spouse
- That your marriage complies with the laws of Georgia or another state in which you married
- That you are lawfully in the U.S. or that you have a waiver for being unlawfully present
- That you have waited the appropriate length of time before requesting a change of status
You may also need to deal with more practical matters, such as proving that you and your spouse reside at the same address and that you share interests common to married couples. This may include providing photographs, affidavits and other documentation in addition to a complete and thorough application. USCIS agents may request an interview to question you about your marriage and to identify any inconsistencies. An attorney can be of great assistance in this case, especially if language is a barrier to understanding the complex process and paperwork requirements.