USCIS Updates Interview Guidelines for Spousal Petitions Involving Minors

Practice Areas

By: Angelita Chavez-Halaka, Armando Escobedo, Gladys Gervacio

SUMMARY

USCIS announced an update to USCIS Adjudicator’s Field Manual (AFM), instructing officers to give special considerations to Form I-130 spousal petitions involving a minor.

WHAT IS THE NEW POLICY GUIDANCE?

USCIS officers will consider the following factors when adjudicating I-130 spousal petitions that involve a minor:

  • Does the age of the beneficiary or petitioner violate the law, at the time and place of the marriage?

Please Note: There is no statutory age requirement when petitioning for a spouse or when sponsoring a spousal beneficiary.

WHO IS IMPACTED UNDER THE NEW POLICY?

As part of the new policy guidance, USCIS adjudicating officers will conduct interviews for I-130 spousal petitions when the following occurs:

  • Age of the beneficiary or petitioner is less than 16 years old; or
  • There is a 10-year age difference between the spouses when either the beneficiary or petitioner is at least 16 or 17 years old.

Moreover, a new flagging system has been created by USCIS that will issue an alert if a minor spouse or fiancé is detected in the electronic system at the time of filing. The petition will then be sent to a special unit that will verify that the age and relationship are correct before the petition is accepted. The petition will be returned to the petitioner for correction if the age or classification on the petition is required.

Additionally, as per the regulation, USCIS may issue a request for evidence (RFE) at its discretion. The burden will fall on the petitioner to prove the validity of his petition and bona fide spousal relationship.

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