A blog about U.S. immigration matters by Paul Szeto, a former INS attorney and an experienced immigration lawyer. We serve clients in all U.S. states and overseas countries. (All information is not legal advice and is subject to change without prior notice.)

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Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Indian Marriage Fraud? Arya Samaj

The Department of State has been denying nonimmigrant visa applications for certain Indian spouses on the grounds of marriage fraud. The marriages of these denied cases are of the Arya Samaj reform movement. The weddings do not have the same rigorous rituals as the traditional weddings in India. Couples are able to sign their own marriage certificates and become legally married in some Indian states. The wedding can also be done en masse. They are simpler and can be done more quickly than the popular traditional Indian wedding.

DOS carefully looks at Arya Samaj marriages, as couples could easily misuse the marriage process to  gain U.S. immigration benefits. The spousal relationship opens up immigration benefits available only to dependents of a principal applicant. Some "couples" marry solely to gain these benefits, which is illegal. DOS policy has been to recognize marriages that were legal where they were held. In cases like these, however, officers can still use discretion to deny these applications if they find the marriage to be fraudulent. Principal applicants can even have their visa revoked for alien smuggling.

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As mentioned, the U.S. government could take drastic steps in Indian marriage cases where Arya Samaj marriages are used, including allegations of fraud and alien smuggling charges.  Hence, Indians genuinely entering their marriage through Arya Samaj weddings should take extra steps to prevent allegations of fraud. Clear evidence should be provided with applications, including an explanation for why the couple opted not to undergo a traditional wedding.  If needed, couples should first obtain advice from legal counsel to ensure a smooth application process. 

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