Most I-130 filings from U.S. Citizens for their foreign spouse is routine however, there are circumstances when the USCIS might have concerns about the legitimacy of the marriage or the suspicions about the submitted documents.
In every case, all material facts in a petition are checked with prior petitions for elements of fraud. Petitions are checked with pending cases for elements of inconsistency in relation to the supporting documentation. Individuals are checked against a Service Lookout Book which lists persons with a history of past immigration problems, criminal problems, or financial issues. The entire petition is reviewed for wrong or inconsistent information.
Next, all of the supporting documents submitted with the petition are checked for authenticity. They are reviewed with the U.S. State Departments listing of available documents from each country. The list provides an image and description of all of the available documents. If necessary, USCIS can send the document overseas for verification of its authenticity. However, if beneficiary will be processed at the local U.S. consulate, the USCIS officer will generally leave the final verification to the consular officer.
In cases where the documentation does not clearly establish the family relationship, USCIS can order that a blood test or DNA test be conducted. While the blood test is not conclusive, it can exclude two people who are clearly not related. A blood test or DNA test may be required in cases of child born out of wedlock or between siblings with different parents. The parties are not required to submit to a blood test but refusal to submit to a blood test will generally result in a denial of the petition.
When an application is missing required documentation or where the evidence is insufficient or if the officer has questions, USCIS will send a Request for Evidence (RFE) to the petitioner. There is generally a deadline for the parties to respond to the Request for Evidence. The time for response will be determined by the difficulty of the response request. If the parties miss the deadline, the officer will adjudicate the petition without the requested evidence or response. Extensions of the time period for response are generally not granted.
If there are further questions on the validity of a marriage relationship, officers will conduct an onsite interview with an unannounced visit to the parties’ residence. They want to verify that the couple is actually residing together. The officers may also conduct interviews with the couple’s neighbors to see if they knew the couple was married and if they have seen them outside of the home together. The couple could also be separated and individually asked questions regarding their married life to see if their information matches.
While some of these tools available to the immigration officer may seem intrusive, they are empowered by the U.S. immigration laws and regulations to ensure the validity of the relationship. USCIS officers are told to view every petition as a fraudulent petition unless proven otherwise.