New York Lawyer's Legal Updates

Challenges Involved With Immigrant Marriage Petitions

Author: US Citizenship Lawyer Alena Shautsova

Marriage petitions are often a faster route to citizenship, especially when compared with other paths immigrants can take. Unlike immigration options where quotas restrict aliens from obtaining visas and green cards, the United States has no limit on marriage petitions.

Unfortunately, abuse of this legitimate path to citizenship has made the United States Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) wary and resulted in increased scrutiny before granting status. Under certain circumstances, the agency’s skepticism is not unfounded. For example, Voices of NY reported on a translated article taken from the Korean Times about sham marriage scams. A Korean-American woman with U.S. citizenship called a number for a wedding agency ad and was told if she agreed to sign a sham marriage document and participate in a USCIS interview to make the authorities think the marriage was bonafide, the ad agency would pay her $20,000. Payouts for fraudulent marriages ranged anywhere from $10,000 to $100,000. One woman who was interviewed said she paid for a sham marriage to gain legal status and the agency kept extorting her for more and more money.

The flip side of this problem is that individuals with legitimate marriages have a more difficult time getting USCIS approval of legal status. Your immigration lawyer can help you overcome the legal hurdles, which may involve taking actions to document the authenticity of your marriage, through the following:

  • Emails that indicate your marital relationship
  • Phone records
  • Leases
  • Tax returns
  • Property titles
  • Bank accounts
  • Insurance
  • Credit cards
  • Employment personnel files that reflect marital status
  • Same addresses for both spouses on documentation

If you want to obtain a green card or citizenship and run into problems with your marriage petition, consult a citizenship lawyer who can help protect your rights.

14 January 2013
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