Presumptive immigration marriage fraud – from green card by marriage to immigration petition for a new spouse in less than 5 years
When a permanent resident obtained a green card by marriage which later ends in divorce, an immigration petition for a new spouse cannot be approved if filed within 5 years of obtaining permanent residence unless the permanent resident can prove that the earlier marriage by which he obtained a green card was in good faith. But the standard of proof of the earlier marriage is raised beyond that required when the permanent resident was issued a green card by that marriage.
If the permanent resident by marriage files an immigration petition for a new spouse within 5 years of receiving permanent residence by law (The Marriage Fraud Amendments of 1986) the former marriage by which he obtained permanent resident is presumed to have been entered into for immigration purposes without the intent to live together as husband and wife.
In this type of special circumstances marriage fraud is presumed based upon the earlier marriage by which the permanent resident obtained a green card, not the current marriage. The presumption of fraud based on the earlier marriage arises even if there was no finding of marriage fraud and the permanent established that the earlier marriage was in good faith, passed the immigration marriage interview and the joint petition for removal of conditions upon resident (I-751) was approved by USCIS.
What is presumptive immigration marriage fraud?
The Bureau of Administrative Appeals defines immigration marriage fraud as a marriage which may comply with all the formal requirements of the law but which the parties entered into with no intent, or “good faith”, to live together and which is designed solely to get around the immigrations laws. There is no requirement that the person be convicted of fraud. Presumptive immigration marriage fraud is a presumption of law applied to all cases where a permanent resident by marriage petitions for a new spouse in less than 5 years after obtaining permanent residence.
Presumptive fraud is about the earlier marriage
But with presumptive fraud a spousal petition for a new spouse within 5 years of obtaining permanent residence by marriage is enough for the adjudicator to presume that the first marriage was a fraud. The presumption however can be successfully challenged. The USCIS will issue a Notice of Intent to Deny giving the petitioner the opportunity to send evidence to show by clear and convincing evidence that the earlier marriage was in good faith. The rebuttal evidence is directed towards the earlier marriage.
A petition for a new spouse within less than 5 years alone is not unequivocal evidence of a sham marriage. Therefore the petitioner can give evidence that adequately explain the rapid sequences of events. A denied petition does not affect the permanent resident’s ability to re-file the petition for the new spouse after the 5 year period.
Evidence used to rebut presumptive marriage fraud
The evidence used to challenge a finding of presumptive marriage fraud is evidence to prove the good faith of the earlier marriage by which the permanent resident gained his status (not the current marriage to the new spouse). Some examples of the type of evidence that can be used to challenge a finding of presumptive marriage fraud are:
1. Affidavit from Petitioner
2. Affidavit from former spouse and former in-laws – don’t burn your bridges
3. Affidavit from friends – who he knew the couple, how often they saw each other
4. Affidavit from professionals – e.g. life insurance salesman, doctors that interacted with the couple and observed them during the marriage
5. Greeting cards from family (dated) – showing family is aware of the marriage
6. Birth Certificate of children born to the marriage
7. Photographs of the couple together with family and friends (identified and dated)
8. Financial statements in both names
9. Joint Tax returns
10. Statements in both names
11. Divorce decree – showing property settlement and other terms of divorce (reason for termination of the marriage)
12. Evidence showing the length of time the earlier couple lived together
There are lots of factors involved in successfully rebutting presumptive immigration marriage fraud. A lot depends upon the facts of the particular earlier marriage. When entering an immigration marriage it is important to have proper legal advice every step of the way. Even if you former marriage and present marriage were in good faith, your petition for your new spouse could be denied if you cannot successfully rebut the presumption that the earlier marriage was a fraud and do so using the correct legal standard.
Presumptive marriage fraud does not prevent the filing of an immigration petition for a new spouse but it makes it more difficult by requiring the permanent resident to prove the good faith of a former marriage using a higher standard.
Presumptive marriage fraud does not apply to naturalized United States citizens or to permanent residence by marriage that has held permanent resident status for over 5 years. It also does not apply to a permanent resident whose marriage end by death of the US citizen or permanent resident through which permanent resident status was received. Despite this, your prior marriage may be relevant if your present relationship began during your prior marriage existed.
Immigration laws can be very unforgiving. Seek legal representation before your act or refrain from taking action on your immigration issue. If you have any questions feel free to contact Goodin Law at (702) 423-2721 or via the Contact Us form for a confidential immigration consultation.