K1 Immigration Fraud: 3 Steps To Protect Yourself
It’s almost like a fairy tale. You meet the love of your life who is far far away in another country but you refuse to let that get in the way of your love. You are determined to get your soulmate to the US so that you both can live happily ever after. Unfortunately, some US petitioners find out after their fiance(e) arrives (often after marriage) that they are a victim of K1 immigration fraud.
I have heard of so many stories from my readers of their fiance(e) or new spouse communicating with someone they are already dating from their home country. This can be very devastating because of the time, effort, and money spent on getting this person to the US so you can continue your relationship in person.
You may feel ashamed, abandoned and angry.
These emotions are normal and you will probably feel this way for some time while you grieve your lost relationship and future hopes and dreams of a new family. But, you must begin to think about your options because the paperwork you signed during the immigration process are legally binding.
In many cases, during your courtship, you really don’t think about these legally binding documents and just sign them quickly so that you can be with your fiance(e). So many couples don’t expect to break up or divorce shortly after reuniting after their long distance relationship, but it’s something you need to be aware of.
Step 1: File For Divorce (If You Got Married)
Obviously, if you found out that your fiance(e) has committed immigration fraud and lied about their intentions, you should file the divorce paperwork immediately. Although with most other marriage problems, I tend to tell couples to try to work it out but marriage fraud is the exception. NEVER try to work it out with a spouse that has lied to you about their intentions during the immigration process. It is not the same thing as a spouse lying to you about other things.
They may try to beg and plead with you and offer to break up their other relationship, but stick to your guns and just say no. The reason I say this is because 99% of the time, they planned this all along and are looking for a way to get a green card and eventually US citizenship so they can sponsor their partner and relatives back home.
Think of it as a way out of whatever situation they came from whether that be poverty, violence, and little opportunity. The American Dream is a very strong motivator for foreigners that are coming from developing countries and it makes sense but committing marriage fraud to get it is just wrong.
So, file the paperwork for divorce and then you need move out of the shared home until the divorce is finalized. Many US citizens get in trouble at this time because they refuse to move out of their home temporarily. The reason you must leave is so that your (ex) spouse cannot file for VAWA (violence against women act) and claim you abused them in some way.
Learn more about the VAWA self petition process to gain a green card without the US citizen’s knowledge.
You would be surprised how many new immigrants are aware of this little loop hole in the US immigration process. It is not that difficult to falsify abuse and file for VAWA to get a green card without the help of the US citizen. The worst part is that you will still be on the hook for the I-864 affidavit of support!
Yes, even if you divorce you are still bound by the I-864 that you signed. The only way this contract expires is if they leave the US (deported), have worked in the US for 10 years or die.
It is rare that the US government will come after you if your ex-spouse files for means-tested benefits (such as welfare, food stamps, public housing) but it is possible and has happened to some unfortunate petitioners.
Step 2: Notify USCIS and ICE Immediately
Generally, you should notify the USCIS as soon as you suspect immigration fraud. If you have evidence of this fraud – that is even better! Make an info pass appointment at the local USCIS office in your city and provide the evidence and explain the entire situation.
Don’t worry too much about getting your ex-spouse deported because that will be difficult. USCIS is slow to act when it comes to removing fraudsters from the US due to little resources to enforce the law.
This is not your problem, you just need to let the USCIS know and then move on with your life. Harder than it seems right? But this is your best chance of getting your life back in order and not stressing about your ex-spouse screwing you over to get immigration benefits.
If your ex-spouse is eventually deported, you actually will not know because you won’t be notified of this. You may be able to find out other ways but it’s really not that important and it is out of your hands anyway. Some US citizens think that they need to contact an attorney, and this may be the case for those who have a high net worth that they need to protect but for most people this is just an extra expense.
An immigration lawyer cannot do anything special to get your ex-spouse deported or to stop them from using government benefits. So save your money and follow the steps given here and you should be fine.
Step 3: Alimony and Child Custody
This is where things will get ugly. If you and your spouse have children you will need to either share custody 50-50 or try to fight for full custody in court. The court system in America is a complete nightmare and can cause a lot of heartache for families that are put through it.
At this point you will probably need an attorney if you ex-spouse is not cooperating with you about child custody. This is very common because your ex may be angry that you filed for divorce and making their immigration process more difficult. So, to get back at you they may try to fight for child custody and alimony.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that they will not qualify for alimony if you have been married for a short period of time. I have heard of stories where a US citizen has lost his children and had to pay thousands of dollars to the ex-spouse committing immigration fraud.
Family court doesn’t take into consideration what is going on with your immigration fraud case. So get help from an experience family law attorney who is also familiar with the US immigration system. This is not the time to try to save money because you could end up losing your kids and have your bank account garnished.
Sometimes I think that every US citizen needs to take a course on immigration fraud so that they know what they might be facing if things don’t go well. It’s great when things are going well but you also need to be on the lookout for signs of marriage fraud and adultery.
You need to file for divorce immediately if you find that your spouse has committed immigration fraud. Next you should notify the USCIS and then learn as much as you can about the family court system and get the help of an experience attorney. Doing these steps will ensure that you are ahead of the game and aren’t just another victim of marriage fraud!
Ayan is the founder of the Migrant Academy community, the My Path To Citizenship Blog and Podcast.
After successfully navigating the hurdles of US immigration. She now dedicates her time to helping other couples achieve their goals of starting their new life together in the US.