Law Offices of Chris M. Ingram

Love and US Immigration

Love has no age limits.  People fall in love at any age. With the Internet and the ease of international travel you can fall in love, if you’re not already spoken for, at any time or place. I was recently speaking to a friend of mine who met his wife at an airport. I met my wife of 24 years in the local town library. I had many of my immigration clients find their American spouse on holiday, at work, on a student exchange, at a party, a wedding, through a friend, blind date, in a chat room, through a dating agency, etc. The stories are as endless as they are fascinating.

Whilst I am an incurable romantic, US Immigration is not. US Immigration (USCIS) have a completely cynical attitude about marriage because they think that every one who marries an American is only doing so because the alien wants a green card and there is absolutely no love whatsoever involved. “How dare they?” you may ask. Unfortunately, in some countries women often referred to as “mail order brides” are so desperate to get out of their home country that they will do or say almost anything to hook an American Citizen husband; it’s their Holy Grail. There are also many rackets, gangs, and syndicates, if you will, where for a fee upwards of $10,000 – $60,000 you can “buy an American husband / wife” who will go through a sham wedding and file immigration papers for you to get the alien their green card.  So the question then becomes, ‘with all the “true” love going around mixed in with all of fake marriages, how USCIS decides which cases are genuine and which cases are fake? You guessed it; the position of USCIS is to treat every case as being fake unless the documentation clearly proves otherwise.

Many people are naive enough to believe that if they just complete the forms then USCIS will simply process the case. Nothing could be further from the truth. Again, the position of USCIS is the same with any visa application; to take the view that EVERY answer on EVERY form is a LIE unless it is submitted with a third party document to prove or substantiate the entry on the form.  If you say your name is Sid Smith, then present a birth certificate and current passport to prove it. If your name is Cheryl Smith, but it was Cheryl Jones before marriage, then you have to submit documentation from birth to present establishing all the changes. Add this requirement to two people who may have been married before then you can begin to see how involved the documentation can be just to establish your own Identity.

Proving the genuineness of the marriage or relationship. How do two people claiming to be in love prove that they are actually in love rather than in contract to get a green card? Well, the genuine couple may have many phone bills showing hours on the phone to each other, or letters swearing their undying love, pictures of themselves together with relatives, family and friends, airline tickets, and on and on. Most couples would not even consider thinking that the submission of such evidence would be necessary, and fail to include it in their application.

As attorney’s we know what the score is with USCIS therefore, although we appreciate that in some cases just completing the forms and submitting a few supporting documents might be enough to get through the initial scrutiny, especially if the US Immigration Officer is in a good mood, has already made their fraud detection quota or it’s Friday and nearly time to go home, we have to prepare the case so well, so detailed , so robust, that even if the US Immigration officer was in a foul mood, and was one short of his fraud detection quota therefore was really keen to stamp a case as being suspicious, that the case prepared by us would be the last case he’d want to pick a fight with.  We prepare the best cases possible so that our clients get the smoothest passage through immigration. We’d rather put our clients through the rigor of making sure that everything about the case is expertly documented so that US Immigration officers are eager to stamp our clients cases as approved.

We have many clients come to us having tried to do it themselves and find themselves totally stressed out and in a mess. At that point they would have given anything to have paid a well-qualified attorney ensuring that everything was done right, first time. The most frustrating thing when USCIS picks on a genuine case is the delay this creates for the client. All of their plans can easily get screwed up and many things have to be re-organized until their case has been cleared by US Immigration.

So my advice is that although love is most definitely in the air, keep your feet on the ground and always hire an attorney to represent you even if you think your case is easy.


Law Offices of Chris M. Ingram
Chris M. Ingram – Admitted in New York
Practice limited to US Immigration
401 Wilshire, 12th Floor, Santa Monica, Ca 90401

Tel: 310 496 4292

 Everyday the Law Offices of Chris M. Ingram provides a comprehensive range of US Immigration expertise. We also provide a free consultation for our prospective clients.

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