What is Marriage Fraud according to USCIS?

Why marriage fraud is not a good idea to gain legal status with USCIS. Marriage fraud is often called a fake or shame marriage.

  1. What is a bonafide marital relationship?

A bonafide marriage means that a husband and wife have not entered into marriage to evade immigration laws. You do not have to marry for love. But you cannot marry for an immigration benefit according to USCIS. Do you intend to live in a real marital relationship as husband and wife? Do you intend to live a life together, following a marriage ceremony? Do your actions prove you are married and living as a married couple? If a couple does not intend to establish a life together, then their marriage is a sham and constitutes marriage fraud under USCIS laws. (see www.uscis.gov)

  1. What are examples of marriage fraud?

A friend helps out a friend by marrying him/her for immigration purposes. A potential beneficiary pays the potential petitioner to marry for immigration purposes.

  1. What are notarios?

Notarios are non-lawyers or immigration consultants who prey on the immigrant community and, take advantage of immigrants’ trust and lack of English skills. Notarios make fraudulent representations on behalf of immigrants to USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services) or EOIR (Executive Office for Immigration Review). The immigrant loses money and the notario does not file anything or incorrectly files paperwork. Later, the immigrant lands in immigration court proceedings. (see www.uscis.gov)

  1. What does USCIS consider Red Flags in Marriage Cases?

USCIS separates couples during the interview and finds inconsistencies in their stories; Prior or current Criminal Convictions; Previous or current immigration court proceedings for the beneficiary; Prior immigrant visa petitions by the petitioner or for the beneficiary; Prior immigration violations, especially departures and reentries after 180 day overstay.  USCIS is a professional in detecting marriage fraud.

  1. How Does USCIS Detect Fraud?

USCIS requires substantial proof that a marriage is real. The more documentation you provide the better. You should expect a longer USCIS interview if a couple is married under two years. If fraud is detected, your application will be delayed.  USCIS may visit your home, talk to your friends, interview your employers, etc.

  1. What does USCIS consider a “bonafide” marriage?

Do you as a married couple have a lot in common, i.e, common language, common religion, common children, etc. Do you live together? Do you do things together? Do you go places together? Do you have sexual intercourse? Do you combine their finances? Do you own property as a couple? Do you celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, etc.?

  1. How can you prove a bonafide marriage to USCIS?

You should provide copies of the following with both spouse’s names on them: rental agreements or mortgage statements, credit card bills, bank account statements, children’s birth and marriage certificates, life insurance, auto insurance, health and/or dental insurance policies, affidavits from family and friends, wedding ceremony, reception and courtship photos, etc.


If you enter a fake or sham marriage, then you risk both a denial of your immigration application and possible criminal prosecution for both your US spouse and you as the intending immigrant. Most cases that are denied are then sent to EOIR for deportation or removal proceedings for the intending immigrant/beneficiary. Think twice before entering into marriage fraud.

If you have further questions, please contact The Thanyachareon Law Firm at info@ThanyachareonLaw.com..

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