Skip To Content

    This Immigration Lawyer Is Going Viral For Exposing Why A Couple's Marriage May Be Seen As Fraud During The Green Card Interview, And It's So Fascinating

    Large age gaps are considered a red flag. 🚩 🚩 🚩

    Moving a foreign fiancé or spouse to the US permanently can be...complicated, to say the least.

    Giphy: TLC_Network / Via

    The long process starts by filing a petition on your partner's behalf, or they may have to file for a visa depending on the circumstances. And if you make it to the interview phase where an immigration officer will ask you both questions about your relationship, even something as simple as nervousness can be deemed a red flag under the official's discretion.

    To help simplify things, meet Alexandra George, a Chicago-based immigration attorney with four and a half years experience. Known as Alex The Attorney on TikTok, the 29-year-old has gained popularity by breaking down laws where marriage and immigration intersect.

    TikTok: @alextheattorney / Via

    Popular topics Alex has covered range from timelines illustrating how long it can take to get a K-1 fiancé visa, which grants foreigners entry into the US in order to marry their spouse within 90 days or return home, and insights into how the law navigates the immigration of queer partners from countries with different marriage equality rulings, and more.

    Recently, though, her series rating reasons why the US government may think a marriage is real or fake has dominated TikTok, with the most popular video in the series accumulating over 2.6 million views alone.

    "These are real reasons they can send your case to the fraud unit," Alex said in the opening of her "Red Flags" video, highlighting indicators on the official United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Fraud Referral Sheet that officers use when considering whether a marriage is false.

    A copy of the fraud indicators guide that U.S. immigration uses
    United States Citizenship and Immigration Services / Via New York Times

    A few notable — and vague — rationales include:

    Being late for the interview.

    A man saying "I've been sat here for like, 9 hours waiting"
    Giphy: TLC_Network / Via

    "This one is so petty," Alex said in response to the supposed red flag. "There's so many reasons you can be late that have nothing to do with fraud."

    Lack of eye contact.

    A man from the show 90 day fiancé pointing at eyes with two fingers
    Giphy: TLC_Network / Via

    "Here's why I hate this one," she continued. "In the US, maintaining eye contact is a sign that you're being honest. In a lot of other cultures, women are taught not to look men, especially authority figures, in the eye because it's seen as disrespectful. It doesn't mean they're lying. They may just be scared."

    Having an unusual number of children.

    A woman from 90 Day fiance saying "It's normal"
    Giphy: TLC_Network / Via

    "Last time I checked, there's no law here limiting the number of kids you can have," Alex said.

    And staged photographs.

    "We need evidence of your whole relationship, so if you took all your photos on the same day? Red flag," she said, seeing the rationale behind this specific point. 

    On the flip side, Alex also rated reasons why the US government may think a relationship or marriage is real.

    Among the green flags included pet adoption papers because, as Alex joked, "you can accidentally have a baby together, but you can't accidentally adopt a dog."

    A woman sits next to her fiancé ad says "I'm more dog person"
    Giphy: TLC_Network / Via

    Next came photos with grandparents, often seen as the matriarchs or patriarchs of the family whose approval over relationships are highly sought after. And finally, photos of your wedding, which represents one of the largest milestones in a couple's relationship.

    When filing for a marriage-based green card for her own clients, Alex told BuzzFeed that she approaches the task knowing there are two fundamental truths she has to prove: "[First,] the marriage is legally valid, and [second,] the marriage is bona fide, which means that it’s real, and you really intend to build your lives together as a married couple. Part one is usually easy enough. Part two is a little less clear."

    TikTok: @alextheattorney / Via

    "When I tell clients how to prove they’re in a bona fide marriage, we talk about three pillars of evidence: shared residence — show that you live together as spouses, or that you will when you enter the US; shared expenses/finances — show that you make financial decisions together, pay bills for the same household, have joint accounts, etc; [and] shared relationships and experiences — show that you’re merging your lives by bringing your families (biological or chosen) together through photos of vacations you took together, family holidays, etc."

    An illustration of three couples
    Nadezhda Ivanova / Getty Images/iStockphoto

    But this can be easier said than done. There is no "magical formula," Alex said, and indications of fraud listed on the (USCIS) Fraud Referral Sheet are vague, leaving much up to individual interpretation. "The indicators aren’t described in detail. There’s no points system," she said. "It all comes down to the officer’s discretion. So, the interview process and the ultimate outcome of that interview is up to the officer you get that day."

    TikTok: @alextheattorney / Via

    "My personal opinion is that many of the behaviors on this list can be attributed to nerves, cultural differences, disability, etc., and aren’t necessarily signs of fraud," she continued. "Sometimes, I feel like these cases are evaluated against a 1950s sitcom idea of what a 'normal' family looks like. I think the system leaves so many gaps for implicit bias to creep in. Just because someone’s relationship looks different to you doesn’t mean it’s not real."

    TikTok: @alextheattorney / Via

    Though application filers have no time to wait for the immigration system to catch up to today's ideas of marriage, they can at least lean on one another for help with getting through the process. Through Alex's account, commenters are able to pose questions, ask each other about their experiences, and wade through the legal terminology together.

    One person asked "we are going through the process right now, do you think it will be a red flag that we kind of got married in secret. we just didn't want our families to make a huge deal since we kept everything low key from them
    TikTok: @alextheattorney / Via

    "The US immigration system is notoriously opaque and confusing," Alex concluded. "There is very little transparency, and folks going through the process are looking for any insight they can get. ... People in my comments seem to benefit from sharing their experiences and seeing that they’re not alone."

    To learn more about bringing a spouse stateside, you can check out the USCIS's website. And for more breakdowns on marital law as it pertains to immigration, follow Alex on TikTok.

    TikTok videos not playing for you? You might need to change the settings on your device — here's how.