Miami immigration lawyers  pay very close attention to their marriage petition (Form I-130) cases, and for good reason. To address what they believe to be large numbers of fraudulent marriages (i.e. marriages of convenience, so that the immigrant can obtain an immigration benefit through marriage to a United States citizen), marriage-based petitions are heavily scrutinized by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and by the U.S. State Department (if the immigrant is applying from a U.S. consulate).

What does this mean for you? It means that the USCIS and/or the U.S. State Department will be on the lookout for certain “red flags.” If your marriage has one or more of the following characteristics, you may want to speak with a Miami immigration lawyer to discuss how best to address these red flags.

  • Criminal record – Do you and/or your spouse have a history of committing crimes? In the eyes of the USCIS, someone with a criminal past may be more likely to commit marriage fraud.
  • One spouse is more highly educated than the other – From a sociological standpoint, birds of a feather flock together. For example, if you have a PhD and your spouse did not graduate from high school, this is a definite red flag in the eyes of the immigration authorities.
  • One spouse is much older than the other – Again, birds of a feather flock together. If one spouse is much older than the other, the immigration authorities may raise an eyebrow as to the authenticity of the relationship.
  • Different ethnic group – Indeed, America is a wonderful melting pot. However, for purposes of immigration, any different races or ethnicity will raise eyebrows for the purposes of approving your marriage petition.
  • Unable to communicate in the same language – This one is rather significant. If the couple cannot even communicate with each other in the same language, a definite red flag is raised.
  • The couple does not live together –This one carries weight, especially if you live in the same country. I would urge you to consult with an immigration attorney in Miami as to how best to address this issue.
  • You didn’t tell anyone about your wedding – If you got married and told no one, this is a red flag. In almost all cultures, marriage is a joyful event that is celebrated with friends and family. If you got married and told no one about it, this is a red flag for the USCIS.
  • You got married almost immediately after meeting your spouse – This is another red flag. Relationships take time to develop. Leaving your home country behind, and deciding to relocate to the United States is a big decision, one that is usually not taken lightly. If you got married almost immediately after meeting your spouse, you and/or your Miami immigration lawyer should be prepared to address this.
  • Your United States Citizen spouse is unemployed – Again, this issue speaks to an increased risk of marriage fraud. The USCIS is aware of many cases wherein the  immigrant pays the United States citizen money in exchange for entering into a fraudulent marriage. If your United States citizen spouse is unemployed, be prepared for increased questioning from the USCIS.

What Happens if the USCIS Issues a Sham Marriage Finding?

The first thing I would do is speak with a Miami immigration attorney. If the USCIS has issued a decision saying that your marriage was a sham marriage, you may have several options. Your immigration lawyer in Miami may file an appeal with the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). Be advised that you only have 30 days from the issuance of the USCIS’ decision within which to file an appeal, therefore you have to act quickly.

If you think would like more information on filing a marriage-based petition, or overcoming a sham marriage finding, please contact Miami immigration attorney Michael G. Murray, Esq. at (305)895-2500 or visit our website at www. .

Coronavirus update: We are safely open for business! USCIS is still accepting new filings for all applications. Our office is offering virtual consultations for new clients so that you don't have to come to our office in person. Call us to schedule your virtual meeting today.
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