INA 204(c)

Text of INA 204(c), 8 U.S.C. 1154(c):

(c) Limitation on orphan petitions approved for a single petitioner; prohibition against approval in cases of marriages entered into in order to evade immigration laws; restriction on future entry of aliens involved with marriage fraud

Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (b) no petition shall be approved if (1) the alien has previously been accorded, or has sought to be accorded, an immediate relative or preference status as the spouse of a citizen of the United States or the spouse of an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence, by reason of a marriage determined by the Attorney General to have been entered into for the purpose of evading the immigration laws, or (2) the Attorney General has determined that the alien has attempted or conspired to enter into a marriage for the purpose of evading the immigration laws.

Key requirements:

  1. Previously received or tried to obtain immediate relative or preference status as the spouse of a citizen or LPR based on a fake marriage, or
  2. Attempted or conspired to enter into a fake marriage for immigration purposes.

Key Decisions:

  • Matter of P. Singh, 27 I&N Dec. 598 (BIA 2019) (standard of proof is “substantial and probative evidence” which is “more than a preponderance of evidence, but less than clear and convincing evidence” and must be “more than probably true that the marriage is fraudulent.” Must consider the evidence in its totality).
  • Ikenokwalu-White v. Gonzales, 495 F.3d 919, 923-24 (8th Cir. 2007) (applying 204(c) to a petition filed by an adult son, thirty years after INS made a fraudulent marriage finding).
  • Matter of Pak, 28 I&N Dec. 113 (BIA 2020) (USCIS can apply 204(c) even if the prior visa denial did not rely on 204(c)).
  • Matter of R.I. ORTEGA, 28 I&N Dec. 9 (BIA 2020) (the conspiracy prong (2) applies where there was an agreement and an overt act in furtherance of the agreement, and 204(c) applies to K-1 fiancee visas where agency determined the marriage or attempted marriage was fraudulent).
  • Matter of Tawfik, 20 I&N Dec. 166, 167 (BIA 1990) (previous determination of fraud is not dispositive, must review all relevant evidence)
  • Matter of Isber, 20 I&N Dec. 676, 678–79 (BIA 1993) (204(c) doesn’t bar the approval of a successive visa petition filed by the same petitioner on behalf of a beneficiary spouse)