Immigration: Questions Regarding Family Relationships
There are often questions over the meanings of the words used to describe these preferences. Typically, lawyers will make an argument that the facts of your situation fit into a particular preference, even when they seem to be somewhat different from the plain language. The problem with this is that false hopes can be created. It is useful to examine a few situations that can be used as a guide to possibly predict the outcome of your situation, and whether it is worth the undertaking to file the application.
For example, what is a bona fide husband or wife? You must prove that you did not get married just to obtain a Green Card. The INS will inquire into your situation to make certain that this is not the case. To make this determination, the INS conducts an evaluation that reviews several fact categories, including, but by no means limited to the following:
- Photographs of husband/wife vacations trips and/or activities
- Evidence of Property Transactions in which title is jointly held
- Joint bank savings or checking accounts
- Apartment applications and leases completed as a married couple
- Titles to vehicles and insurances held jointly
- Health insurance or life insurance coverage listing the spouse as a dependent or beneficiary
- Joint tax returns
- Jointly held credit cards and other bills, such as electric, water, and telephone
- Other evidence of marriage
The best standard to follow is to attach as many of these types of documentation as possible to the I-130 Petition. The more documentation you can attach and the better the proof you provide to the INS, the easier a time you will have in the interview. In fact, a well-documented Petition may not even garner more than a question or two from the INS screener. On the other hand, if no proof has been provided and the marriage is relatively new, the INS may ask a series of questions in the interview process to uncover the real nature of the marriage. Additionally, the INS has the investigative power to visit the spouses at home or work in order to determine how they are conducting their daily lives.
If the spouses sleep in separate apartments, have separate cars and do not even see each other on a regular basis, this will prompt serious attention from the INS as to the nature of the marriage. You may not want them to ask too many questions, as they can often render a person powerless to answer or to provide the type of proof that may be necessary to overcome the conclusion that the INS investigator has come to in a particular case. It is better to remove all doubt.
Be wary of the fact that, in certain situations, the INS may conduct separate marital interviews. These are carefully designed to elicit different responses from the spouses on seemingly minor issues. This is a very polished part of the INS interview practice, and these investigators are careful and thorough in their attempt to uncover the truth about the marriage. Separating the spouses is one of the best ways to determine the truth on many issues.
A review of the I-130 Petition indicates the power that the INS may have upon determining that you are engaging in any scheme that involves not telling the truth. For example, on one page of the Petition it asks if you are married. By answering yes, you are certifying that you are married in a real marriage, and did not create the marriage just for the purpose of getting the Green Card. This does not mean you cannot be divorced, as we will see. It does mean that you must tell the truth on the Petition.