Reporting Immigration Fraud To The USCIS
Immigration fraud is such a hot topic that I can probably write about it every single day. The majority of couples who apply for a visa are honest people who want to be together. However, anyone who has gone through the fraud process will tell you it is a nightmare! This post will be very helpful if you suspect your fiance(e) or spouse is taking you for a ride (so to speak).
Suspecting that your partner is committing immigration fraud is a serious allegation. You will want to be very sure of this before you notify USCIS. There are a few steps you need to take to successfully submit a fraud claim.
The 4 steps are:
- Gather supporting evidence of fraud
- Move out of the shared home
- Notify USCIS through infopass
- Protect yourself from lawsuits
If children are in the picture – you will need to be more careful about how you handle this process. Child custody battles are not fun. When children are in the middle, they tend to be used as pawns to win the battle. If you believe that your spouse may use your children against you, get in contact with a family law attorney to review your options.
Step 1: Gather Supporting Evidence Of Fraud
This is probably the most important step you need to do. The evidence needed to prove immigration fraud must be strong. There should be no doubt that fraud was committed. Having a gut feeling is not enough; hard evidence is what USCIS is looking for.
What type of evidence is needed to prove immigration fraud?
- Emails – print out email communication that shows your partner intentions of committing immigration fraud. This would require that you have access to their email account. This evidence is considered strong, especially if they use their real name to send emails.
- Phone Calls – recorded phone conversations with their family/friends back home about their intentions to use you to gain immigration benefits. Sometimes they may confirm their intentions to leave you as soon as they get their green card. Record the call even if they are speaking in a different language.
- Marriage Fraud – evidence that your partner was already married in their home country. In some countries, a religious marriage ceremony is considered legally binding. Gather evidence of any other marriage that was not terminated before they gained their visa.
- Misrepresentation – gather evidence that your partner lied on a visa or about their past applications. USCIS takes visa fraud very seriously and will review their case for fraud.
Step 2: Move Out Of Your Shared Home
Okay, you may be thinking “why would I need to leave my home?”. The simple answer is: to avoid a false VAWA charge. If you don’t know what VAWA is, check out this post about the VAWA process and how it can be used against you. A good number of immigrants that are committing immigration fraud know about this loophole. If done successfully, it can be used to obtain a green card and eventually…citizenship.
By taking the step to leave the shared home, you are avoiding any claims of abuse by your partner. I suggest leaving even if you think that they would never file false charges of abuse against. People who are desperate will do anything not to get caught or face the consequences of their actions.
Another reason you want to cut ties immediately is to reduce the amount of marital evidence they can gather. For an immigrant to file for VAWA, they must prove they entered the marriage in good faith. This means that their intentions were not to enter the marriage for the purpose of gaining immigration benefits. So, by closing your shared bank account and putting bills under only your name – they have less evidence to show a bona fide marriage.
Now, keep in mind that there is no guarantee that your partner will be deported for immigration fraud. You may never even know the final outcome. Don’t worry about this. Just focus on protecting yourself during the investigation.
Step 3: Notify USCIS via InfoPass
Once you have evidence of immigration fraud (marriage fraud), you are ready to set up an infopass with the USCIS. Call the customer service number (1-800-375-5283) and request to make an appointment with your local service center. Briefly explain your situation and wait for an appointment time and date.
This is not the time to go into a lot of details over the phone. Save it for the actual appointment! The immigration officer will want to see all the evidence that you have and will then let you know that they will do an investigation based on your allegations. Unfortunately, they will not update you on their findings or the final outcome. This is normal and doesn’t mean that they haven’t found your partner “guilty” of immigration fraud.
There are many cases where the immigrant has committed immigration fraud but are never deported. If you find yourself in this situation, the best thing to do is move on with your life. There isn’t much you can do about it. They may eventually get caught and deported but they are no longer your problem.
Step 4: Protect Yourself From Lawsuits
The final step in this process is to protect yourself from lawsuits. Whether it is a lawsuit from your former spouse or from the US government. If you have substantial assets – speak with a family/immigration attorney about your options. The only time the US government would come after you is if your partner has received means-tested benefits they did not qualify for.
These benefits can include cash assistance, welfare, medicaid etc. Again, there is no way to know if they filed for these benefits. If you added your partner to the deed of your home – you may want to reconsider. Remove them from all of your bank accounts to avoid the accounts being emptied before the divorce is finalized. Divorce can be really ugly. It not only ruins your relationship, but it destroys your finances.
Children can also be a hot button. Make sure that you know your way around the family court system because they can be used against you. Family courts are often times not fair. It is up to you to protect your children from custody battles and psych evaluations. It is unfortunate that kids get stuck in the middle of adult disputes; it happens too often.
If you can’t afford an attorney, try looking into low cost or free services of local law students. Often times they are knowledgeable about current immigration or family laws.
Finally, I just want to mention that no all immigrants are out to defraud the USCIS. The majority are good law-abiding people who want to be with their American partner. Heck, I am one of these immigrants. I came here with dream to start a new life with my husband. It worked out great for us and we have been together for a long time. I know of many other success stories but there are definitely some bad apples. Hopefully, this post has shed some light on the steps you need to take to protect yourself.
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.