Can you get married while in removal proceedings? Removal proceedings often represent a highly stressful period for an immigrant, regardless of the specific situation. This time is marked by great uncertainty, not only regarding the immigration judge’s decision to deport the foreign individual, (or let them legally remain in the United States) but also with regards to what an alien is allowed to do during this period. Many immigrants who are facing deportation proceedings may be asking themselves if they are legally permitted to work or get married. Here, we will focus on the latter question.
Getting Married While In Removal Proceedings
If an immigrant is in a romantic relationship while in removal proceedings, he (or she) may wish to get married. However, the alien will need to prove to the U.S. Government — more specifically, to the judge and to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) — that his/her marriage is real. Here is how an immigrant in such a situation can demonstrate this.
Must Prove That The Marriage Is Genuine
Any foreign individual who wishes to get married while in removal proceedings are required to prove that the marriage is “bona fide” (genuine) in nature and not a sham. This is because in certain cases, immigrants who risk being deported, marry a U.S. citizen for the sole purpose of obtaining a Green Card. According to the Immigration and Nationality Act, an immigrant who enters a fake marriage may face severe criminal penalties, including up to five years in prison and fines as high as $250,000. The alien may also see their eligibility for a U.S. visa or Green Card negatively affected.
In recent years, there have been some cases of large marriage fraud schemes. In 2016, a Los Angeles couple was arrested for setting up at least 100 fake marriages for Indian nationals who wanted to remain in the U.S. In May 2019, in Houston, 96 people were charged in a similar scheme that involved aliens paying tens of thousands of dollars to obtain legal permanent resident status.
In order to prove that a marriage is genuine, an immigrant must submit documents that demonstrate the intention of forming a life with his/her spouse. These records may include joint bank statements, lease agreements, and photographs. Bills addressed to both the immigrant and the spouse at the same address may also serve as proof, as well as affidavits from friends or business partners.
Immigration Officers Will Interview Immigrant And Spouse
In addition to providing documentation to prove their marriage is genuine, aliens who get married while in deportation proceedings and their spouses, must both submit to an interview with immigration officials. Immigrants and their spouses could even be interviewed separately to see if the answers to basic questions about the marriage are consistent. These interview questions may be about how the couple met, how long the immigrant and the spouse have been together or they may relate to each individual’s knowledge of their spouse’s personal information including date of birth, cell phone number, what they do for work, etc. Immigration officers may also ask questions about vacations and other trips the couple have taken together.
If the first interview with USCIS officers raises any suspicion, the couple may be asked to submit to a second interrogation known as a Stokes interview. In these cases, the immigrant is often strongly advised to seek legal representation, if they don’t have it already. It is also important to note that the U.S. Government will generally not follow a couple around or investigate them after both members have provided all required documents and participated in interviews with officers, as long as there are no grounds for suspicion.
Speak To A Knowledgeable Immigration Attorney Today
Call Johnson & Masumi today at (703) 688-8279 or contact us online to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys. Since our founding in 1986, we have been dedicated to helping clients located throughout Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, DC. We never hesitate to take on even the most complex cases.
The team at Johnson & Masumi understands that deportation proceedings can be extremely stressful for many immigrants. We will always work closely with you to determine whether there is a strong and legitimate legal defense available to you, regardless of your situation. Studies show that aliens who acquire legal representation often have a higher probability of success with their cases.