AVOIDING CONFUSION ON THE I-130 PETITION FOR ALIEN RELATIVE
One of the perks of my job is getting to help people who are looking forward to a new chapter in their lives.
Many of these people are couples, such as an American spouse with a Japanese spouse, and some of these couples are at an initial stage where they are discussing the possibility of living together in the United States.
By assisting these couples with their U.S. immigration petitions and applications, I can be involved in preparing something (e.g., a petition package) that can lead to the realization of goals and positive outcomes. With these types of cases I get to draw from my motivations as an idealistic law school applicant hoping that I could use a legal education to make a difference, to help regular folks, and to contribute to improving communities. And with many of these cases I do not have to deal with the types of disputes and conflict that many lawyers tackle on a daily basis in other adversarial areas of law practice.
That being said, U.S. immigration laws and language can be difficult, even for native speakers of English and those who are familiar with this area of law. So I can understand when couples interested in permanent residency get intimidated by the legalities of the U.S. immigration process or have questions about their role in answering questions and providing personal information.
Even though the following language does not appear until the end of the I-130 form, and even though only the petitioner will be signing the I-130, here are three paragraphs from the immigration form that each spouse should read and understand as early as possible when considering immigration based on marriage.
Warning: USCIS investigates claimed relationships and verifies the validity of documents. USCIS seeks criminal prosecutions when family relationships are falsified to obtain visas.
Penalties: By law, you may be imprisoned for not more than five years or fined $250,000, or both, for entering into a marriage contract for the purpose of evading any provision of the immigration laws. In addition, you may be fined up to $10,000 and imprisoned for up to five years, or both, for knowingly and willingly falsifying or concealing a material fact or using any false document in submitting this petition.
Your Certification: I certify, under penalty of perjury under the laws of the United States of America, that the foregoing is true and correct. Furthermore, I authorize the release of any information from my records that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services needs to determine eligibility for the benefit that I am seeking.
Gary O. Haase is a U.S. immigration attorney admitted in California and Japan (licensed foreign attorney). This article is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact a qualified legal professional to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue. The opinions expressed are those of the individual author and do not reflect the views or opinions of any nonprofit organization or government agency.