Federal Marriage Fraud

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The United States remains one of the most desirable destinations for immigrants from all over the world to start a new life. Millions of immigrants around the world want a U.S. green card, and they risk much to obtain one. One of the more common ways to qualify for a green card, or a permit to reside and work in the United States indefinitely, is to marry a person who is already a citizen.

It is a prevalent belief that foreigners who marry American citizens automatically receive a green card, yet this is not true. Marrying someone to evade immigration laws and receive a green card constitutes marriage fraud, which is one sure way noncitizens forfeit their opportunity to become citizens.

Federal immigration agents scrutinize the characteristics and behaviors of U.S. marriages between citizens and noncitizens for indications of marriage fraud. If you are under investigation for marriage fraud as a U.S. citizen or a foreign national, you should turn to a federal defense lawyer for guidance.

Common Fraudulent Marriage Arrangements

How do people commit marriage fraud? In many cases, a U.S. citizen receives a substantial amount of money to proceed with a fraudulent union that allows a noncitizen to settle into the country. Other examples of marriage fraud include:

  • A U.S. citizen marries a foreign national as a favor
  • A foreign national defrauds a U.S. citizen who believes their marriage is legitimate
  • Mail-order marriages in which both parties know the marriage is fraudulent

Signs of a Fraudulent Marriage

Many people in the U.S. and abroad view falsifying a marriage as an easy way to get a green card without realizing many others have tried the same thing. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USICS) officials have decades of experience identifying sham marriages. Some red flags they look for that indicate fraud include:

  • The couple has kept the marriage a secret from friends and family
  • The couple does not speak the same language
  • A significant age difference
  • Different religions
  • Different races
  • A significant difference in education levels
  • A couple who marries soon after they meet
  • A person who marries soon after going through divorce
  • Attempts to manufacture evidence of a shared life together before the visa interview
  • A couple who shares a house but whose schedules prevent them from interacting with each other

Penalties for Federal Marriage Fraud

Penalties for marriage fraud may lead to both parties facing up to 5 years in prison and/or a fine of $250,000. The persons involved in the scheme may also face additional charges of:

  • Making false statements
  • Committing visa fraud
  • Harboring a foreign national

These additional charges carry additional fines and prison sentences. Immigrants may also face deportation and may be banned from entering the U.S. even after a real marriage.

Defending Your Marriage

If you are under investigation for marriage fraud, the best thing you can do is speak with a federal crimes lawyer who handles immigration cases. At The Umansky Law Firm, we have 100 years of combined experience fighting federal charges. Call 407-228-3838 or email us a description of your case.