CONSULATE REVIEW OF PETITIONS FOR POTENTIAL FRAUD
By Reuben Seguritan
A US Citizen can bring his Fiancé(e) to the US by filing an I-129F petition with the USCIS. He can also file an I-130 petition to bring his spouse to the US. In either case the USCIS will review the petition, and if approved, the case will be sent to the National Visa Center (NVC) for processing. The NVC will provide a case number and forward the case to the nearest US consulate where the foreigner spouse or Fiancé(e) resides. The US consulate will then contact the foreign spouse or Fiancé(e) and instruct her to get a medical exam and attend a visa interview at the consulate. After the interview and approval, the visa will be issued and the spouse or Fiancé(e) can then enter the US.
In some cases, the consulate might find or might think it has found fraud in the application and will therefore trigger a fraud review of the application. Some of the signs of fraud are: Age difference between petitioner and beneficiary; marriage fraud is common in beneficiary’s country; and petitioner has previously filed another petition based on marriage. The fraud review can also be triggered if the spouse or Fiancé(e) says something during the interview that contradicts documents submitted or is completely left out of the application and such information is required. An example of this would be a prior marriage which has been legally dissolved or annulled.
The fraud review can be avoided by thorough preparation before the application is submitted and before the interview at the consulate. The spouse or foreigner Fiancé(e) must always have a copy of what he submitted to the USCIS. It must be made clear to the USCIS and the consulate that the relationship of the US citizen and the foreigner spouse or Fiancé(e) is genuine and not entered into for immigration benefits. Some signs that it might be a sham marriage or relationship are: statement by one of the parties, proof of money exchanging hands, factual evidence found by the officer or there was a marriage broker.
There must also be supporting evidence of the genuine relationship of the couple. Examples of proof for the US citizen and the Fiancé(e) are: affidavit with the narrative of the relationship and a statement of intent to marry the foreigner Fiancé(e); evidence to establish the relationship and how many times the couple have met personally, (i.e., photographs together, letter or messages sent to each other, plane tickets, receipt of the engagement ring, etc.) a signed statement of the foreigner Fiancé(e) certifying that she intends to marry the US citizen within 90 days of entering the US on a valid K-1 visa. Additionally, if the Fiancé(e) is from the Philippines, he must also submit a Certificate of No Marriage (CENOMAR) which shows he has the capacity to marry the US citizen. For the US citizen and his foreigner spouse, the following evidence can be presented: affidavit stating the timeline of the couple’s relationship; statement on prior marriages of the spouses, if any; birth certificates of minor children if any; marriage certificate of the couple and supporting evidence to show the marriage and relationship such as pictures before and during the wedding, messages or letters sent to each other and plane tickets or receipts showing travel together.
The foreigner spouse or Fiancé(e) must also have practiced answering questions before the interview. Even if the relationship is completely legitimate, the nervousness of the applicant can contribute to incorrect responses or blanking on important details when asked by the interviewer. It would be good to ask someone to help the applicant speak in English and memorize important dates such as the birthday of the US citizen and the anniversary of when they became a couple. At the interview itself, the foreigner spouse or Fiancé(e) must take note of the name of the officer who interviews her, the date and time of the interview and which window or room number she was interviewed in.
But despite extensive preparation, it is still possible for the application to be denied. If this happens, the US citizen and the foreigner spouse or Fiancé(e) should ask why the consulate decided that way. However, the officers are required to suspend actions on applications when a petitioner requests it, when they believe there is fraud, when there is a change in circumstances even if there is no fraud, if the officer has reason to believe the applicant is not entitled to the status and if the officer believes the marriage, is a sham.
If the application is denied the applicant and the US citizen are not entitled to judicial review of the consulate’s decision. The only two options after denial are filing a motion for reconsideration or requesting for an advisory opinion.