Immigration Marriages

Written by Patricia Tunstall
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Immigration marriages have been made famous by Hollywood movies in which marriages of convenience help a desperate immigrant remain in the United States. In fact, marriage to a U.S. citizen is one way of obtaining permanent residency in this country, but immigration authorities are quite aware of sham immigration marriages and have ways to investigate them. Of course, only the two spouses know their intent in entering into a marriage, but immigration investigators are permitted to scrutinize any marriage that seems suspect.

A marriage that bestows permanent resident status on the alien spouse must have been valid at the time of the marriage. Proxy marriages are not valid because at least one of the partners is not present at the ceremony, and this violates immigration policies. If the marriage is solely for the purpose of avoiding immigration restrictions, or bypassing immigration regulations, investigators can visit neighbors, visit the home of the couple, and make inquiries about immigration marriages.

Factors in Immigration Marriages

One factor is how long the couple have known one another; another is whether they lived together before the ceremony and whether they live together now. If the couple married only after one of them was targeted for investigation or deportation, this makes the union suspect. Positive factors include documents showing joint ownership of property, commingling of finances, and birth certificates of any children born to the couple.

The investigator may ask private questions about any aspect of the relationship, including the other spouse's favorite foods or brand of underwear, but may not be intrusive, such as asking about the sexual relationship of the couple. The couple may present any evidence of a valid partnership, such as joint tax returns, wedding photos and other photos of the couple together, and mail correspondence over a period of time that shows a lasting relationship prior to the wedding.

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