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How Does USCIS Determine If A Green Card Marriage Is Fake?

Identifying red flags in a green card marriage is crucial to avoid suspicions of a fake union.

A marriage certificate and even joint children born in the marriage are not enough to prove to US Immigration that your marriage to a US Citizen is a bona fide or real marriage, and that you married for the purpose of creating a family together.

Detecting red flags in a marriage application is essential to avoid suspicion of fake or fraudulent intentions for green card pursuit.

You need to show USCIS serious joint documents to prove the marriage, which includes filing joint tax returns as “married”, joint kids’ birth certificates listing the US citizen spouse as a parent, joint bills, joint leases, joint car insurance policies, joint credit cards and joint bank statements, trips together, photos of you with family and friends, and much much more to prove you are living together and saving money together and spending together as a family.

But what are some RED FLAGS and SIGNS that may signal to USCIS that your marriage is fake?

USCIS closely scrutinizes marriages for signs of fraudulence, particularly in cases where joint documents appear manufactured or spouses lack shared living arrangements. We assembled here the main red flags of fake Green Card marriage:

  1. The spouses have different addresses on their Driver’s Licenses or State IDs.
  2. The spouses appear to have two separate residence addresses and do not sleep under the same roof. Sexual relations are not part of the proof of the marriage, interestingly enough, but living under the same roof is.
  3. The immigrant spouse does not speak well in the languages that the US Citizen Spouse speaks. No shared language.
  4. The families do not know about the marriage.
  5. Race difference.
  6. Your divorce document looks fake (US Department of State has different forms or booklet types than the one you have).
  7. You changed names before or did not list all your names in your applications.
  8. The US Citizen Spouse is very poor, has a history of drugs, alcoholism, credit problems, bankruptcy, unpaid child support, liens and judgments and bad credit history. This makes USCIS suspect that they got money for marrying the immigrant spouse.
  9. The US Citizen Spouse filed to get green cards for 2 or even more spouses before you.
  10. You filed to get a green card through 1 or 2 or more US Citizen or LPR spouses before.
  11. You married very quickly after a prior divorce.
  12. You married very quickly after you met.
  13. You married while in Immigration Court removal/deportation proceedings.
  14. You met online. Online dating, even as it becomes more acceptable for all couples in US, is still a red flag for green card marriage couples.
  15. Your visa applications and family petition and green card applications do not match – different addresses, different dates and biographic information listed.
  16. The photographs look staged, the couple is wearing the same clothes in all of them; the photos show only the couple with no family or friends or demonstration of a timeline in the photos.
  17. The couple cannot spell each other’s names. They don’t know each other’s parents’ names, ages, ages of each other’s siblings and kids and where they live.
  18. Joint bona fides of the marriage (joint documents) look fake, manufactured. Leases are not signed by both spouses, the lease looks like someone hand-wrote information in after it was signed with the Landlord, documents have marks of being fake.
  19. One or both spouses is not familiar with the work schedule or any schedule of the other.
  20. The spouses have work schedules that do not allow them to spend any time together (for example, one works the day shift while the other works the night shift).
  21. Young kids from prior relationships do not live with the couple according to the documentation. This means that the mom is only “pretending” to live with the spouse and in reality spends her days and nights where her young kids are.
  22. Huge age difference.
  23. The couple is related.
  24. Difference in religion.
  25. The couple has been together for a long time and the woman is of childbearing age, but they have no joint kids together.
  26. Clear difference in the spouses’ educational, social and cultural backgrounds.
  27. You don’t travel together. You take big trips alone or with other people, and not with your spouse.
  28. The immigrant is from a country notorious for immigration fraud and offering fake documents to the US government. Some countries are on a black list for the purposes of filing for a green card marriage (Republic of Georgia, Jamaica, Cambodia, Russia, Uzbekistan and many more are examples).
  29. Arrests and convictions for either spouse. Criminal history is a big red flag for USCIS.
  30. Not having any knowledge about your spouse’s kids – where do they go to school, what grade are they in, who do they live with, etc.
  31. You met and know well your spouse’s ex.

It’s imperative for couples to address any red flags in their green card marriage case. This ensures thorough preparation and documentation to present their relationship authentically to USCIS.


The first step is admitting you have problems in your case. Understand your case and all its strong sides and weak sides.

Understand that you have a very short time to make a good first impression on the USCIS Immigration Officer during your interview and it’s up to you to show your relationship in the best possible light. You have to take initiative.


  1. Organize your documents.
  2. Make sure to have originals and copies of all your documents. Your marriage certificate, divorce certificates and birth certificates must be ORIGINAL, translated to English and make sense.
  3. Organize answers to the typical questions US Immigration asks and needs to know about.
  4. Do not assume that just because your marriage is “real” and you have joint children that your interview will be a breeze or that you guarantied approval. You could still be denied and face deportation and legal penalties for fraudulent marriage.

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Shepelsky Law Group

Tel: (718)769-6352