FDNS Site Visits to Root Out Marriage Fraud in Family Based I-130 Cases

The Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate (FDNS) of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is responsible for conducting site visits, when needed, at the homes of married couples in spousal permanent residence (“green card”) cases, which are filed using the I-130 form. This is in an effort to identify and investigate potential incidences of marriage fraud used to illegally secure immigration benefits. While site visits are not performed in the majority of these types of cases, petitioners and beneficiaries should at least be aware of the possibility.

FDNS Data Collection and Data System

The FDNS operates the Fraud Detection and National Security Data System (FDNS-DS). This is a case-management system used to record, track, and manage information related to cases under review for possible fraud concerns. These concerns are referred to enforcement agencies such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and the U.S. Department of State (DOS), among others. The FDNS-DS stores information on immigration applications involving suspected or confirmed fraud, criminal activity, serious public safety concerns, and national security concerns.

Surprise Site Visits Used to Verify Bona Fide Relationship

The FDNS conducts site visits as part of the FDNS Administrative Site Visit and Verification Program (ASVVP). I-130 spousal filings typically are selected for unannounced site visits based on details in cases that seem suspicious and are considered by the USCIS to be potential indicators of fraud. For instance, it would not be unusual to see a site visit in a case with a significant age difference between the spouses, or if the married couple live at separate residences. A surprise site visit may be conducted very early in the morning, allowing the officer to verify whether the couple is, in fact, living together, and to check whether there is evidence the couple is sleeping in the same room. Similarly, an officer may observe a petitioner’s home in the evening, watching the comings and goings. All of this ultimately is used to determine whether the couple is in a bona fide relationship.

Information Collected During a Site Visit

During a site visit, the FDNS officer typically collects information on each individual found in the residence, including name, date and place of birth, marriage history, and alien number. This information is then entered into FDNS-DS and can be crosschecked with existing information and records, and stored for future use, if needed. This protocol was released as part of the 2008 Privacy Impact Assessment for the FDNS-DS system.

Fraud is Not Worth the Risk

The USCIS has been successful in apprehending individuals who seek to improperly obtain immigration benefits through fraudulent marriages, and it continues to strengthen fraud protection operations and the ability to retain, sort, and share information. Those caught engaging in fraudulent activity may be subject to severe consequences. Needless to say, those who wish to become permanent residents of the United States must seek better alternatives than attempting to defraud the federal government.

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Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.