Reporting Suspected Immigration Benefit Fraud
Clients often ask me about how to report benefit fraud to USCIS.
First, I do not encourage reporting benefit fraud for malicious reasons. It is not okay to turn your spouse in for immigration fraud because you are angry that your marriage didn't work out or because you think that his or her deportation would prevent you from paying alimony or child support. Most experienced domestic relations attorneys will tell you that allegations of immigration fraud in divorce proceedings end up looking vindictive. You should not use reports of benefit fraud as leverage in a divorce or in a custody battle. It is a crime to file a false report with a federal agency and that includes ICE so you should have legitimate grounds for filing a report before doing so.
Some Facts: 1) US citizens do not have the right to have a person deported. That basically means that you cannot contact immigration and request that your spouse or other relative be deported because the relationship didn't work out. 2) Even if you do not support the continuation of a petition for a greencard your spouse may be able to obtain immigration benefits without you. There are rules that allow spouses of US citizens (who are already in the US) to continue the process without your consent. This is especially true where the spouse can prove that the marriage was bona fide and didn't work out through no fault of their own or that they were abused during the marriage.
So, who should report benefit fraud? Reports of benefit fraud are a good idea if you have actual proof of fraud. By that I mean some form of proof like a statement that your spouse only used you for immigration coupled with proof that s/he returned to a previous spouse/fiance/etc or continued seeing another person during the marriage. This kind of proof should be more than a hurtful statement made during an argument in a divorce. If your spouse of 10 years tells you that she only used you for immigration benefits it doesn't ring as true. People who are committing benefit fraud normally leave their spouse as soon as they remove the conditions of their residence or get citizenship. After 10 or 15 years of marriage a statement that you were used for immigration purposes is hurtful but probably untrue.
Another behavior that may give rise to an indication of benefit fraud is criminal activity. If your spouse is involved in criminal activities, especially those of an international nature, you may have a reason to report benefit fraud.
Finally, if you find out that your spouse is using a false identity, has false paperwork, etc. that would clearly be grounds for reporting fraud to ICE. Alternately, if you know that a person is working with an agency that helps arrange fake marriages or is arranging a fake marriage you can contact ICE. These agencies often make enormous profits off of the desperation of individuals to immigrate to the US.
How do you report fraud?
ICE, also known as US Immigration and Customs Enforcement is tasked with investigating immigration fraud. You can make a report to ICE by calling 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or mailing a complaint to http://www.ice.gov/about/contact.htm. You may also want to consider mailing information directly to USCIS if you know the A number or the case number.
Finally, if the original petition is not approved and your spouse or fiancé has not entered the US, you can withdraw the petition. You should send a letter asking to withdraw your application along with a copy of the receipt notice to USCIS service center where you submitted your petition or to the consulate if the initial petition has been approved.