4) I am a victim! What should I do now?
a. Get a good divorce attorney! If you can afford it, get a good immigration attorney too.
b. Do not confront your spouse regarding your suspicions. Do not speak to mutual friends, their family members, or anyone they associate with about your suspicions or legal strategies. Talk to your lawyer!
c. If you must speak with someone other than your lawyer, be sure they are a trusted acquaintance.
d. Do not allow your spouse to provoke you, and do not react to his/her provocations.
e. Do not under any circumstances talk to your spouse or friends of your spouse, whether on the phone or in person, without a witness present. Do not post any specific information regarding your spouse on the internet where it is possible they may access it.
f. If possible, move out of the marital home, and have witnesses available for verification. It is best to establish a temporary residence somewhere else. Do not let your spouse know where you are living. Do not return to the home or your spouse may attempt to raise a stalking charge.
g. If your spouse has already moved out of the marital home, change the locks. Check with your lawyer about the legality of this first.
h. Secure the bank accounts. Move your money out of your spouse’s reach as soon as is possible! Get legal advice about a possible 50% rule. Get all valuable documents that might be of use in an immigration or divorce case out of your house and relocate them to a safe deposit box at a bank or another safe location.
i. Keep written copies of your exit plan such as an attorney’s brief with you at all times. The attorney’s brief should stress the need to separate and make no contact with your spouse, as well as steps that have been taken. These papers can be shown to the police if they show up at your new residence on false charges made up by your spouse, as well as in court.
j. Keep documentation of the money involved in your exit plan. This is useful at an abuse trial to show your rational and legal reaction to a marriage that needs to be ended. Abusive people typically do not use rational legal means to exit a marriage. They often use intimidation or force to keep a hold on their victim. Act like a law abiding citizen. Do not waiver with your heart, and keep advancing forward using your head.
k. Do not sign anything for your spouse.
l. Record and document everything that is relevant. If, and only if, it is legal in your state, carry a tape recorder!
m. Check your state laws regarding legal grounds for an annulment. If allowed, an annulment shows the USCIS that you were defrauded. Follow up with a letter and proof that you’ve filed for annulment and the final decree of annulment.
n. You must withdraw sponsorship of your spouse as soon as it is evident that things are fraudulent. If you and your spouse have applied for a change of status, and your spouse has not received the 2 year green card, withdraw your application immediately! Send a notarized letter to the USCIS and include as much information as possible. Write a very detailed synopsis of your relationship with your spouse from the first time you got in touch until the present. Be sure to send it so that someone has to sign for your letter. If your spouse’s change of status has already been approved, you can still withdraw your support, but this unfortunately does not end your financial obligations.
o. Write your local US Representative and US Senators. Have them send a letter to the USCIS on your behalf.
p. Try to get a contact person at your USCIS local office, and be persistent in forcing them to do something about your claim, with investigation.
q. Do not hide, destroy, damage or take your spouse’s immigration documents, passport, etc. This could be used against you in a court of law or with the police.
r. Google your spouse. You may be surprised at what information is out there on the web about people.
s. Do a background check on your spouse. It’s worth the money.
t. Report any suspicious activity to the FBI or USCIS.
u. For additional resources on dealing with false allegations of abuse, visit SAVE
4) I am a victim! What should I do now?