Many individuals who have adjusted their status through their spouses can attest to the fact that USCIS does not easily believe in good faith marriages. USCIS starts with the premise that, "YOU ARE LYING." Basically, it is fraud until proven bona fide.
In the past, USCIS has engaged in tactics such as separate interrogations and field investigations to prove the validity of a marriage. At the interview, the Immigration Officer would question the petitioner and applicant separately. Then, the officer would match the answers to ensure consistency. If the officer still has doubts, the case would be continued and a field investigation would be conducted, which usually meant a visit to the couple's home. These tactics are traditional and still used commonly today. However, we have been experiencing new techniques employed by USCIS.
Joe is a 20 year-old college student. Joe met and became enamored with Maria, an exchange student. Joe and Maria began dating and decided to get married six months after they started dating. Due to fear of family disapproval, Joe did not disclose his marriage to his parents. Since his parents cosigned for all his student loans, Joe had indicated that he was "single" on his financial aid applications. Even though Joe had moved in with Maria after marriage, Joe kept his residency on-campus where he shared a room with his classmate. Joe thought that his marriage with Maria was their own private business and did not feel the need to commingle their lives until they were ready to tell their parents.
At the end of the semester, Maria's student status had expired. Joe thought petitioning for Maria would be easy enough for her to remain in the United States. After all, Joe was a U.S. citizen and Maria was his wife. Joe petitions for Maria and attends the interview together. Unbeknownst to Joe and Maria, USCIS had already conducted extensive research on the couple and started the interview with the premise that the marriage was not bona fide. It turned out that USCIS had copies of Joe's financial aid forms which stated that he was "single." USCIS also talked to Joe's mother, who was clueless that Joe was married. Additionally, USCIS had searched public records showing that Joe actually lived with his classmate on campus. All this investigation was conducted prior to the adjustment of status interview.
The moral of this story is: BE READY! YOU KNOW THAT YOUR MARRIAGE IS BONA FIDE. Why risk having an immigration officer think otherwise. USCIS is no longer waiting until AFTER the interview to investigate. The investigation begins the minute you file your application. Some minor oversights in your marriage may be reasonable cause for USCIS to deny your case. You should hire a competent and experienced immigration attorney who will be able to assist you preparing your immigration case before USCIS. Your immigration attorney needs to be familiar with USCIS procedures and the interviewing process so that they can guide you through the entire process. Under Section 291 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, the applicant has the burden of proving eligibility. Immigration officers often rely on this provision alone to deny applications.
At Wilner & O'Reilly, we have former immigration officers, board certified specialists and experienced attorneys. Our priority is to prevent unnecessary prejudices at USCIS by preparing and advocating thoroughly for our clients. All of our lawyers have experience in handling such cases and are prepared to be at your side during your immigration interview. More than ever, now is the time to have competent representation in your immigration matters.