Anytime somebody applies for some kind of benefit with USCIS specifically, you’re giving them loads of information. You’re giving them everything that they need to know about you. Your immigration history, your employment history, your previous addresses, your family history, your name, your social, your number. Everything.
They have everything on you but a lot of people forget that they can go beyond that. They can go beyond what’s on those applications. A lot of times people think it’s very clinical. Whenever you go to a doctor’s office, you fill out an intake form, you give it to them, and you think that they have the information that you’re giving them. Later on doctors can do different kinds of tests and find out things that might be going on, but that initial information that they get from you is pretty much all that they have to make their diagnosis based off of what you’re telling them.
USCIS is a little bit different in that they are part of the US government. That’s something that some clients also gloss over or potential applicants don’t really think about it. They don’t sit down and think this is an actual U.S government entity that they are presenting themselves in front of and they have loads of information about you.
They can know a lot of different things that you just don’t think about on a day-to-day basis and sometimes we find out about those things when we’re sitting in an actual interview talking to an officer or we receive a request for evidence or a notice of intent to deny a case. When we read those, we’re shocked by the amount of leg work that they have actually put into getting to know this person.
There are actual investigators. There are people who will go out into the field to learn more about the things that you’re telling them. An officer told us that there’s a government database where they can look up cars and their license plates, and they can actually see where these cars have been parked.
Whenever you’re talking about couples specifically and it’s a marriage-based petition or an application that’s pending, they want to make sure that this couple is married in good faith. They want to make sure that their lives are actually united, that they have things together, and so we do present this packet of information with a lot of evidence.
We try and make it as clear as possible to them but of course they’re not going to take you at your word all the time. They need to do their own investigation. The government can actually look at these cars, they look at these houses that people are saying they live in. They look to see if it’s actually a house, if it’s actually an apartment, or if it’s a business.
If it’s a business or if it’s not really related to anything other than a mailbox, they’re going to have some questions. They look to see whose cars are parked out there. They make sure that the applicant and the petitioner, when they say that they live together and they park outside, both of those cars are parked outside at different periods of the day.
Sometimes when we’ve gotten some requests for evidence or notices of intent to deny, they actually are very detailed and very specific about certain things. They actually send an officer to your apartment complex to talk to your landlord, your apartment complex manager, and your neighbors. They might say that they’ve actually never heard of this person or if they visit someone’s house that you guys said was your sister or visited your workplace and they say that they never heard of things like that.
When you stop and think about it, this is the US government. You’re dealing with an entire country’s government. It can be scary the amount of information that they know about you. We always warn people not to post things on Facebook that can be seen as offensive, anti-government, has any kind of involvement with drugs, weapons, or illegal substances not just because it looks bad in general. Even if you think you have the most private of settings on any social media sites, we don’t know the reach that the US government has and they can definitely find ways to look at your information.
We’re always telling our clients to be careful with the information that you’re putting out into the world. The things that you’re tagged in, the things that you’re posting, the things that you’re reposting. You’re putting that out there not just for what you think is your limited following to see but it’s there for if the officers or the government wanted to look at that stuff.
It’s not even just social media. It’s them diving deep into people’s lives to make sure that the information that you’re giving is accurate. We always strive to tell people give the most information as possible. Be honest, be upfront about certain things, and that is really why you do need an immigration attorney to help you with these kinds of processes because we know things, we talk to people, we see it daily in our practice that somebody who did an application once might not know the little intricacies.
Especially here at Immigration for Couples, we take a holistic view. We’re going to look at everything about your case, we’re going to look at about everything about your history and that way we can be sure to actually guide you and give you advice on what to say, what to put out there.
You definitely have to protect your image but also know that there are things that the government can find out even if it’s something that you didn’t think about or something you didn’t know. At the end of the day, it’s the reason why we always recommend having an actual immigration attorney just to be safe and just to know that you’re taken care of because it’s your life. At the end of the day, you want to make sure that you’re going to get the most favorable result possible.