Immigration fraud is a serious concern and a very real occurrence. Unfortunately, sometimes it happens unbeknownst to the U.S. citizen involved in the relationship. In an effort to stem this type of fraud, the immigration interview and assessment process is rigid and extensive. If you are planning a wedding to someone who lives in another country, there are many different things that you should think about. Here are some of the things to be prepared for as you embark on the immigration and marriage journey.
Fraud Is Fraud, But It Doesn't Change The Law
It is important to understand that ICE views a fraudulent marriage as just that, no matter whether the fraud was a mutual agreement or a one-sided masquerade orchestrated by the immigrant. Even if the citizen sponsoring the immigrant went into the marriage with every belief that the marriage was legitimate and every intention of starting a life with the immigrant, a falsehood on the part of the immigrant will still make it a fraudulent marriage.
However, even if ICE views the marriage as fraudulent for the purposes of immigration, that doesn't mean that the law will view the marriage as anything other than legitimate. Unfortunately, that means that you may still be considered legally married to the individual in question even if they entered into the marriage with false intentions. If, however, ICE determines that you were party to the fraud, you could face jail time and significant fines.
The Immigration Interview Is A Serious Step
Before your spouse will be granted a green card based on your marriage, you will both have to complete a comprehensive immigration interview. This interview process is a key part of determining the validity of your marriage. You shouldn't go through the interview process unprepared. To do this, there are a few things you have to keep in mind.
Understand The Severity Of Being Out Of Status: Being out of status means that you are either overstaying your visa or entering the United States without inspection. If either of these apply to you, ICE may require that you return to your home country before you can petition for your green card. You may even have to undergo your interview from your home country instead of within the United States.
Remember That You Must File A Change Of Status: If you are in the United States legally, under a student visa or something similar, you legally have to change your status in order to get married. You'll need to file a family status request form to update your presence in the country.
Know That There Are Exceptions: In some cases, if you have overstayed your visa or are here without authorization, you may still be able to get your green card approved. You will have to work with an immigration attorney to file your paperwork, though. In cases like this, the paperwork must be precise to avoid a risk of deportation or criminal charges.
Develop A Financial Backup Plan: An important component of the immigration interview is a means test. You have to fill out a financial affidavit that shows that you have the financial means to support your immigrant spouse. There's a financial income level that you must consistently be above to ensure that your spouse doesn't end up filing for government support. As of 2019, you must show that you earn at least 125 percent of the poverty level every year. If you can't meet the means test, that doesn't necessarily mean that you are out of luck. All you need is a co-signer on the affidavit to ensure financial support.