EP30: USCIS Age Difference: A Red Flag That Could Get You Denied

Remember that song “age ain’t nothing but a number” by Aaliyah? Many people feel the same way about finding love no matter how large the age difference is. But, does USCIS age difference affect whether your case will be approved or denied?

The answer isn’t so simple but in this podcast episode, we will delve deep into how an age gap can affect your immigrant visa and what can be done about it.

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For most couples who are close in age this issue probably never crossed their mind. I personally didn’t know this was a big problem until I started coaching couples applying for the K1 and CR1 visa.

You see, my husband and I are only one year apart in age so this was not an issue for us. But, let me tell you that it’s a huge deal for couples who have a larger age difference.

Case Example:

Angie is a 72 year old woman from Florida. She met the man of her dreams on Facebook just 9 months ago and they started dating right away. You see, her new love is only 28 years old and recently proposed marriage to her. She excitedly agreed to marry him because she has been lonely since her first husband died 8 years ago.

Angie plans on marrying Joseph in Nigeria and then petition for the spouse visa for him. She knows that USCIS will be skeptical about their relationship but she is willing to fight for love.

After reading the brief story of Angie and her fiancé Joesph, do you believe that their courtship is real? Do you think he is marrying her to get a ticket to the United States?

Put yourself in the shoes of a consular officer in Nigeria. Would you approve this couple for the spouse visa? Leave a comment below this post.

What Is Considered A Large Age Difference To USCIS?

You may think that 10 years is a large age difference while someone else things it’s more like 25 years.

Unfortunately, USCIS doesn’t actually tell us what they believe is a large age difference so this may be speculation. I’ve spoken with many couples who absolutely believe that their age difference was at the reason for their visa being denied.

How Much Of An Age Gap Is Too Much?

5 Year Difference in Age or Less
This is very common in most countries and isn’t really look at as being strange or uncommon. If your USCIS age difference is under 5 years, it simply means that your case should not be scrutinized simply due to the age gap.
  • Generally not a problem
  • Very common in many countries
  • Both men and women are ok
6-15 Years Difference in Age
Now when you get into this type of age difference is where you see most of the problems. You will run into questions about whether your relationship is truly genuine and valid.
To be prepared for this type of scrutiny, you should make sure to intially submit a strong I-129F petititon or I-130 petition. Don’t wait until you get to the visa interview to try to prove your relationship is real.
  • Somewhat less common
  • Can be a problem in some countries
  • Is it unusual in the country or customs?
  • Can affect women more than men
16 – 30+ Years Difference in Age
  • Can raise red flags
  • Both men and women afftected
  • Is it common in the country or customs
  • Higher chance of fruad possible
  • More problems for older women

Related Podcast: The Top 10 Evidence of a Bona Fide Marriage.

Related Post: How To Prove a Bona Fide Marriage For I-130.

Will A USCIS Age Difference Affect My Immigrant Visa?

Applying for an immigrant visa such as the CR1 spouse visa or the K1 fiance visa (technically called a nonimmigrant visa) can mean that your case will be screened for fraud.

Having a large USCIS age difference doesn’t automatically mean that you will be denied. I’ve spoken with many couples who were approved with age gaps of 20 years or more so I know that it can be done.

The problem is if you also have a few other red flags about your case.

For exmaple: if you had a short courtship of under 6 months, expect to have a harder time if you have a large USCIS age difference as well.

Related Post: Marriage Fraud In Exchange For Money?

Factors That Can Affect Your Approval Odds

There are three factors that could affect how closely USCIS or the Consulate look at your large age difference.

  • Country of the beneficiary
    • The country of the beneficiary is importnat when it comes to a large age difference and how difficult it will be to approved. This is due to the fact that the consular officers will look at other cases in the past that had similar age difference and circumstances and check to see if those marriages lasted after visa approval. Remember, they keep stats on how much cases turn out to be fraudulent.
  • Customs of the country
    • Looking deeper at the customs of each country is another thing that the US consulates look at. Are people local to the country regularly marring someone 35 years older or younger than them? I know this sounds ridiculous that they would compare your relationship to local couples but it’s true.
  • How common it is in that country
    • Lastly, they may look at how common this type of age difference is to the beneficiary country. This helps them determine if love is really the main factor or immigration fraud. For example, in many middle eastern countries older men tend to marry much younger women (this is normal).

The chart below is from Wikipedia. It shows statistics on marriages broken down by age difference in the United States.

As you can see, even in a western society such as the US, large age difference of more than 10 years is still pretty uncommon! This is the type of information that could be used to determine whether your relationship is valid.

Large Age Difference and Suspicion Of Immigration Fraud?

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. A large age difference alone will not cause an automatic denial of your visa application. But, include that with other factors and you are in some trouble!

USCIS and the Consulate are constantly on the lookout for immigration fraud. That’s their #1 priority!

Your job is to show that you are eligible for the visa and that the basis for your eligibility is honest.

USCIS and the Conuslate almost have to assume you are guilty of immigraiton fraud and you must show that you have evidence to show that it is not the case!

  • Are you marrying an American to commit immigration fraud?
  • Consulates keep track of number of fraud cases in each country
  • Does your relationship make sense?
    • If you are a 28 year old man who wants to start a family but marrying an 60 year old woman.
    • Are you a 21 year old woman with family in the US but marrying a 72 year old man

Related Podcast: List of USCIS High Fraud Countries and Low Fraud Countries

Large Age Difference and Suspicion Marriage Fraud?

Marriage fraud is not the same things as immigration fraud. Both can tied to the same case and there are some similarities.

Marriage fraud is all about whether you speicifcally sought out marriage or a relationship to an American for the purpose of an immigraton benefit.

Immigration fraud, on the other hand, has to do with lying or misrepresenting yourself to get approved for the visa even if your relationship is real.

  • US Consulates conduct interview to weed out fraud.
  • Consular officers are trained to ask the right questions.
  • If they suspect fraud, you may be asked to attend 2nd interview.

Final Thoughts On Large Age Difference As A Red Flag

To summarize, a large age difference between you and your spouse or fiance doens’t have to be a death sentence for your visa applicaiton but you must be proactive.

If you expect some scrutiny about your relationship, get infront of it and submit much more evidence of a bona fide relationship than required. This is what’s called “front-loading” your application.

If you’ve already submitted your I-130 or I-129F petition but didn’t include enough evidence, you will likely be given a second opportunity to provide more evidence to the Consulate or Embassy. Don’t pass this up!

A large age difference will make it more difficult to pass the “sniff test” of the USCIS adjudicator and consular officer but if you play offence you can likely overcome this obstacle.

Lastly, make sure that you don’t let fear get in the way of your relationship! Even if your case is placed in temporary administrative processing, make sure that you and your partner are supportive of each other.

This process can be so damn stressful as it is. You want to make sure that you have each other to lean on during this long waiting period.

If you want personalized help and support with your spouse visa or fiance visa application, consider joining the Migrant Academy. It’s an exclusive course platform and community for couples in long distance relationships applying for the K1 visa and CR1 visa.


  1. Ray

    I enjoyed number 30. I am a male US citizen engaged to a Filipino. I am 32 years older. I met her through her cousin that is in the US.

  2. Hi Ray,

    I’m glad this episode was helpful to you! A big age difference can be difficult to overcome but not impossible.

  3. Blessing

    I am 37 year old woman from Nigeria. I met my 61 year old white American fiance through an online dating in 2013. We have met four times when I visited the US. We plan to wed in the US when next I visit but no family will be attending. Is that going to be a problem when he files spouse visa for me?

  4. Hi Blessing,

    Getting married without family present will not cause issues with your case as long as you can show evidence of a bona fide marriage. You may want to include affidavit letters from your family members that have knowledge of your marriage. They can also explain why there were not able to attend. Congrats on your upcoming wedding!

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