ICE Increases Arrests of Applicants at Interviews for Marriage-Based Immigrant Visas

Melsida Asatrian's picture

On April 19, 2018, the New York Times published an interesting article titled “A Marriage Used to Prevent Deportation. Not Anymore.”1

The article discusses situations in which individuals with outstanding final orders of removal seek immigrant visas based on bona fide marriages to U.S. citizens. The article suggests, based on individual accounts and testimony from immigration attorneys, that the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has been arresting an increasing number of such individuals when they appear for interviews related to their immigrant visa petitions with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). In multiple instances, these individuals have been removed while their marriage applications were proceeding. During the Obama Administration, such individuals were generally not arrested provided that they did not have a criminal conviction or other circumstance that rendered them priorities for immigration enforcement under the former civil enforcement priorities [see blog]. Under the current immigration enforcement priorities, any individual who is in the United States illegally is subject to arrest, detention, and removal [see article].

An individual who is seeking a Green Card based on marriage should always consult with an experienced immigration attorney throughout the entire process. Even in cases where the individual is applying from abroad or with legal status in the United States, seeking an immigrant visa is often a long and evidence-intensive process. An attorney is especially important, however, in cases such as those described in the article where the petition beneficiary has underlying immigration problems, such as an outstanding final order of removal. An attorney will be able to examine the case and explain what may happen given different actions in the current immigration enforcement environment. With this knowledge, a marriage-based petitioner and beneficiary may make an informed decision on how to proceed with their case.

To learn more about family-based immigrant visa petitions generally, please see our category of articles on the subject [see category].


  1. Yee, Vivian. “A Marriage Used to Prevent Deportation. Not Anymore.” The New York Times. Apr. 19, 2018.
ICE Increases Arrests of Applicants at Interviews for Marriage-Based Immigrant Visas