For many immigrants living in the Los Angeles area without legal papers, the decision to seek legal status can be intimidating. After all, doing so can make it known to authorities that they are in the country illegally. Some worry that they will face deportation during the process.

This was the case for one woman who sought a visa and was denied recently. The 27-year-old applied for a spouse visa and was required to appear at the U.S. consulate in Juarez, Mexico. During the interview process the consular officer told the woman that she believed her marriage was fraudulent and that her husband would have to also appear in order to be interviewed.

The woman came to the United States as a child with her mother. She applied herself in her studies and was accepted into UC Berkeley where she graduated with a degree in Spanish. She met and married a man that was more than twice her age, but that she loves deeply.

Because the man is a citizen of the United States, the woman can apply for a spousal visa. Authorities questioned the marriage because of the age difference and even went as far as to indicate that they thought the woman only married the man in order to get her papers.

After her visa application was denied she could not reenter the United States. She is currently living in Mexico while they work on appealing the decision. The couple felt like they had nothing to hide, so everything would work out. They did not prepare for the interview for this very reason. They may benefit from speaking to an immigration attorney who can advise them on their case and help them with their appeal.

Source: Los Angeles Times, “Trying to prove their love,” Richard Marosi, April 4, 2013