There was a survey done back in 80’s where it was claimed that about 30 percent of the marriages that happen between United States citizen and foreign citizens are a sham. The survey was deeply flawed but the suspicion has hung around even after almost four decades have passed.
When a person who is a U.S citizen sponsors their spouse for a marriage based Green card, there’s a process that people have to go through that involves interviews that scrutinize if the marriage is real or just an arrangement to get a green card. If there are further doubts about the marriage, there is another interview that deeply scrutinizes the case which is known colloquially as the Marriage Fraud Interview. Read on to find what happens in the interview and what circumstances lead to it.
How is a Marriage fraud investigated?
With the Visa regulations and immigration reforms that have been going on in the United States, immigration proceedings have become more strict and complex than they ever were before. Thus, investigating a Marriage fraud is taken very seriously by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). A marriage based green card opens up expedited proceedings for getting a green card and there have been several fraudulent attempts at getting a green card this way.
There’s no definition as to what constitutes a real marriage in the laws and regulations but there are certain conditions that are expected to be fulfilled by a married couple. Based on these conditions, the lesser conditions you fulfill, the more complex the procedure becomes and the likelihood of being granted the green card also decreases.
Scrutiny Level in US for Marriage based applicants for immigrants has increased considerably
Over the years, the U.S Government has with trial and tribulations, devised a system that takes a strict look at marriage-based green card applicants. The scrutiny level is considerably higher and the U.S government has the power to follow you around if there are doubts and risks associated with the case. You can expect a visit from an officer from Homeland Security regarding the case. The officer can also ask questions from your friends, employers, neighbors and so on to verify the legality of the marriage. More is expected out of marriage-based green card applicants as the potential for fraud is also much higher.
Interviews are conducted and during the process, the married couple is expected to furnish various documents that support their case. The questioning is done on a deeper and personal level to verify what you know about each other.
Some very Common check points for marriage based Visa Interview
The USCIS officials expect that you share your lives in such a way that most married couples do. You are not required to check every box but there must be some common things. You might share a house together, have bank accounts together, own a car, know about each other and the respective family members, celebrate occasions such as birthdays and anniversaries and other similar things. These are the sort of questions and details that are asked and looked at in the first interview. Most of the times, this interview is enough. But is the immigration official has further doubts about the marriage, they might forward the case for further scrutiny and interview which is called the “Stokes Interview”.
The Stokes Interview- make your interview the perfect one to get Visa
Generally, married applicants are called in for an interview by the USCIS for verifying that the marriage is not for gaining just a green card. This is usually part of the process which gives the officials a chance to verify the details of your application before approving your petition to be registered as a spouse of a citizen or a permanent resident. This isn’t out of the ordinary and you shouldn’t be worried about it.
On the other hand, if you receive a notice for a second interview, it means there has been a problem with your interview or your applications. This second interview is known as the “Stokes Interview” and it is cause for a little concern for the applicants. But you need not worry too much as it also gives you an opportunity to stuff as much evidence as possible to make your case bulletproof.
The marriage fraud interviews are conducted even after the I-130 petition has been approved by the USCIS. This generally happens to adjustment cases where people change their immigration status without leaving the country. If applicants have not reached their two year anniversary, they are granted conditional residency status for a two year period. Interviews are conducted during this period or even after this period has expired.
What happens in the Interview?
In a Stokes Interview scenario, there are no limits to what questions can be asked of a married couple. The questions can range from innocent details about your lives to more intimate details about your personal lives. You are expected to answer all questions to prove beyond a reason of doubt that your marriage is real. Be prepared for intimidation tactics or strict line of questioning.
When you get to your interview, you and your spouse are interviewed in separate rooms to remove any chances of collusion. The line of questioning might be identical for both and later, the officials check for any discrepancies in the answers.
Face US Visa interview normally and do not appear as if you have come to get Green Card
Usually, you can expect a rigorous line of questioning as the official dive into your personal lives. Their goal is to weed out fraud perpetrators and that is reflected in the questions that are asked. Strict officials may use false testimonies to test your resolve. Intimidation is also sometimes seen where the punishment of such fraud is leveraged for scaring people.
During a marriage fraud interview, the official interviewing you might ask you some personal question that you might feel like not answering. In such cases, you can refuse to answer or ask to see a supervisor about it. It is generally advised to have an immigration attorney present in such scenarios to calm the clients down and to deal with follow up procedures. Remember to bring along things such as home keys, documents and other things to make the case for your marriage. And never sign anything without conquering with your lawyer.