Is marriage based immigration fraud nearly the problem people think it is?

Anyone who has married a spouse who doesn’t share a nationality with you has had to go through marriage based permanent residency filings etc, you quickly realize that immigration officers paranoid about fraud isn’t just a baseless stereotype. Sometimes it feels like they think every couple is fraud based, an American spouse applying for permanent residency in Ethiopia is probably somehow fraud based.:stuck_out_tongue:

My favorite is when you are dealing with some new agent near the end, or when going back for something and they literally ask you the starter questions. Its funny to be asked what color was the sheets on your wedding night, or where you two first met when you’ve been married almost a decade and have children with two passports and all that jazz. I guess they think you’re really dedicated to the scam.:stuck_out_tongue:

I’ve known a few instances where people claimed someone was involved in this kind of scam, and always it should have been blindingly obvious to officials. We’re not talking about criminal masterplans, people with facebook pics showing them with a lover NOT their “official” one. People who have had five spouses in the past decade, all from one country, and all married just long enough to get permanent residency and move on to the next spouse. This should be obvious right? You’d think.
I had an older immigration agent ask me “off the record” why on earth I wanted PR in my wife’s country instead of us moving to the US like everyone else. Then a next younger agent going back to the try to catch you in a contradiction questions, and for the record I have no clue what the sheets looked like on our wedding night and we only got married because of the need of official papers for stuff like this.

Oh forgot to add that US law considers a marriage entered into for purposes of immigration as fradulent, it must have been entered into for other reasons to be legit.

Well me and my wife really only got legally married because it was needed for immigration, because officials don’t care how committed you are without the paper. I mean we are a real couple who love each other, but you could say by technical definition we are fraudsters :stuck_out_tongue:

I imagine a very many couples who are legit and in love only get married because it is needed to be together.

I share you pain.

I sat through a meeting for US citizens that was put on by Embassy officals. There were many questions and you could just see the resentment that so many Americans have for the government when the American’s foreign born spouse is treated like a pariah.

One issue was raised in various questions from the audience and it basically broke down to this, “Why does my foreign born spouse have a harder time getting a US tourist visa now that he/she is married to me, a US citizen?” :frowning:

The embassy officials thought it was obvious. “If you come to the US then your spouse might want to stay and live with you.” :smack:

As if that is such a terrible thing.

When I went through this (for Canada), nobody asked any questions. Apparently our documentation alone was sufficient. We did have one minor hiccup, but I think that was just so they were sure we were serious, and it was nothing to do with presuming fraud.

How expensive was it if you don’t mind my asking? A friend is going through this right now and between her being out of work until the documentation is approved and the cost of the attorney and filing fees this is putting a financial strain on them.

It was about $1500, I think, though note that we didn’t use an immigration attorney. Loads cheaper than we paid for US visas, though in that case we did go through an attorney which added considerably to the cost.

Thanks that makes sense. They’re very worried about doing it all right and making it work since he can’t move so if they screw it up there’s no other option. I guess they’re taking the safe way which increases the costs considerably apparently. The attorney fee is 5k.

Overstaying a tourist visa is a very common type of illegal immigration. What most people need to know is that it can lead to a bar to entry so it is very foolish thing to do if you are a foreign born spouse who ever wants to live in the US. But because the immigration process is so complicated, expensive, and onerous, the temptation is obviously there. You would have to be a fool not to understand the temptation.

So the missing word is illegally.

“If you come to the US then your spouse might want to stay and live with you illegally.” Immigration officials think breaking the law is a bad thing, crazy I know.

Mostly it is bureaucratic BS tempered with xenophobic political jingoism. I deeply resent the way the immigration law is set up to make things as difficult - if not impossible - for families to remain together. The immigration courts and officers are heartless zombies and political hacks with a power trip. I know because they tried to deport me when I was six years old, planning to take me from my legal parents and consign me to a foreign orphanage…all because my entry documents were issued incorrectly by the US State department. It took a US senator to straighten things out for me.

Now that I am married to a foreign born woman, the US government makes it onerous to the point of impossibility to unite my family in the USA legally.

Of course, if they came her illegally and joined the millions of other undocumented immigrants in the country, they would have some chance to at least be amnestied in at some point.

So much for political BS about “family values.”

My wife and I have paid our taxes for years, without complaint supporting many who have arrived in this country without documentation. But I cannot get my wife’s daughter a visa into the country to visit us, no matter how hard I try. I’ve argued with 3 separate US Consul Generals to no avail, because we are simply not rich enough to matter.

If your foreign relatives have a hook-up, i.e. are either filthy rich or have connections in some corrupt foreign government, then the US Consulates trip over themselves giving out US visitor visas. If your relatives are simple, ordinary folk, then forgettaboutit. :mad:

bolded emphasis mine.

I am referring to people who want to go shopping at the outlet malls in Orlando; people who want to change planes in Miami and have no intention of staying in the States; people who want to go to a family wedding; people who want to meet the in-laws.

The US turns away people (UK citizens, e.g) who one day were ok to enter the US freely without a visa but who suddenly get stopped and turned around at the airport because he/she is married to a US citizen.

As we have learned after President Obama’s announcement on deportation issues recently, overstaying a visa is a civil matter, not a criminal matter. Should the US routinely turn other tourists away because they might get a parking ticket? :rolleyes:

Live through the situation. Let your government charge your a few thousand dollars to let you live with your spouse. Get some perspective.

I think you’re the one who needs perspective. Many countries – including the UK – have highly restrictive, arbitrary immigration laws that are expensive and frustrating to deal with.

Incidentally the US is the only country I know of that makes your foreign spouse wait outside the USA while applying for permanent residency and immigrant visas. Not saying it is the only one, Germany for a random example allows your spouse to apply while in Germany. A much more humane approach.

You can apply for marriage-based permanent residence from inside the US, you just have to enter on the Fiancee visa. I remember vaguely that consular processing can be faster, depending on nationality of the fiancee. But you are definitely allowed to adjust your status from inside the US, as long as you entered correctly.

I have the best of both worlds. Since the US does not recognize our Canadian marriage, my husband is not subject to this crap and merely has to go through the demeaning fingerprinting and iris-scanning that all the other visitors to US shores endure.

The UK also makes the fiancee/spouse apply outside of the UK, as I’m in the middle of the process to get a spousal visa (with enough lead time, however, one can apply to marry in the UK and apply for the spousal visa from within the country, but the last time I was over, I wasn’t staying long enough). We’re working with an immigration lawyer because the UKBA website is geared to make you give up or go insane, possibly both. No UK consulate in the United States has a phone number for visa applicants that actually connects you with a human being; you end up being redirected to an outsource called World Bridge – they won’t speak to you unless the first thing out of your mouth is your 16 digit credit card number, seriously. And $3/minute gets you someone just reading the FAQ off the UKBA website.

The lawyer is expensive, but holy cow has she made this process so much easier.

The real stress at the moment is that UK immigration laws change as of 9 July 2012, and she wasn’t expecting this to take effect until much later this summer. This meant a heck of a lot of scrambling and last minute airplane tickets for the new Mr Boods so that he could come to the US and actually become Mr Boods to beat the deadline.

While the application form was long, it mostly had to do with finances: stuff such as that my sponsor he can afford the household; that I have enough money to tide me over until my job starts so that I’m not obviously coming over to glom onto the benefits scheme; my skill sets and proof of future employment, things like that. As far as I know, we don’t have to be interviewed about our personal habits or produce witnesses to guarantee our relationship is genuine; from what I understand there are couples who do have to produce evidence of an actual relationship, but there are triggers in the application process that set off that particular procedure.

My visa application has been sent in, so with luck I’ve beaten the deadline; I still have to follow up with a packet of supporting documents, but they don’t have to be in before the 9th.

It’s not an easy process, but no one as yet in the UK has made me feel like an outsider or an intruder (and I’m including all the people in officialdom I’ve had to talk to about visa paperwork, getting a NIN, my future colleagues at the university, &c.)

What did set off alarms at Heathrow immigration was when I was self-employed, and traveling over several times a year. A former Heathrow bod told me that one group who’s profiled coming into the UK are single women between 21 and about 40 who seem to come over very frequently despite having a low income, as apparently they have a greater tendency to try to overstay their tourist visas/return flight date (the UK doesn’t require a visit for tourists, but you can’t stay past six months).

I was pulled aside and interrogated for four hours on one visit because I made the mistake of answering the question, ‘This friend you’re staying with, how did you meet him?’ with ‘Over the internet’ – that was the correct answer, but I had since met him several times in real life and had lived in a house share with him in England for a few months. But the airport officials heard only ‘over the internet’ and assumed I was a starry-eyed Yankette who had been lured to the land of pixies and dukes and castles by a dastardly blackguard planning to sell me into the sex slavery trade. Sure that’s being silly, but apparently enough women do overstay their visits on whatever romantic or whimsical notion frequently enough to warrant profiling (and that it costs time and resources to get them out of whatever trouble they actually fall into.)

What finally stopped all the questioning and interrogation: putting ‘university lecturer’ on my landing card as my occupation, traveling almost exclusively business or first class, and putting a ‘Mrs’ in front of the name of the person I was staying with.

So long as you think the government should get to decide if you can (live with/travel to family events with/vacation with/travel in an efficient manner to somewhere not within the jurisdiction of the US with) your spouse and/or children then I think its ok.

Around 6.32 million Americans, around 2% of all Americans, live abroad. Not surprisingly many of these Americans have immediate family members who do not have US citizenship.

You cannot sponsor your spouse (or any relative) for a US green card if you do not intend to live within the US. But at the same time the fact that you are now married makes it harder for your spouse to get a tourist visa. Without a green card you are at the whim of the immigration officer every time your family needs to apply for a visa.

Immigration is a peculiar area of the law. The government starts from the assumption of guilt - the applicant is assumed to intend to overstay any visa and must prove otherwise. Navigating this process can cost several thousand dollars in direct and indirect costs.

Bingo, this is the exact catch 22 I’ve run into. And to the person that said the fiancee visa is easier, you’re right it is. But it doesn’t do you much good when you are already married, and trying to lie about something silly like that to US immigration is a sure path to lifetime bans.

So its more like US immigration is EASIER to navigate if you start planning to immigrate from the start of your relationship, and craft your relationship around the loopholes and easy paths in US immigration law. Which sounds suspiciously like fraud doesn’t it?:p:p

We are currently in the throes of dealing with the US Immigration. I am here legally on a work visa and applying for change of status. Oy! You can see why people give up.

I think the cases of fraudulent marriage are still there but as the whole process is designed to be a PITA I think it is less common. We are waiting for the interview now - mr ems is studying up as he is terrified he will mess up and I get deported! W have been together 8 years and married 4 but due to work some of that time I have spent overseas. Coming back to visit during that time was always a crapshoot to see if they would let me in on the visa waiver program having previously been here on a work visa. It involved carrying lots of proof I was employed overseas at all times. Also when I came back 2 years ago on another work visa that was an interesting conversation with the immigration officer at LAX as he went through every visa from every country I had worked in for 2 years that was in my passport.

Good luck, ems. I have learned that my application has been received and fee processed (the money of course being the big thing), so if my application for the spousal UK visa is accepted, it will be under the old scheme, and not affected by the changes coming into effect on the 9th.

I still have to finish collecting documents to support the visa – so far the bundle of paperwork that will be heading to New York (to the British Consulate) is about 4 inches thick.

I was copying documents at school yesterday, and the sight of the paperwork shut up the students who were pissing and moaning about the three-page essay they’d been assigned, that’s for sure.