Marriage fraud is a serious crime as far as the United States government is concerned. It is an outright disregard for the country’s immigration laws, but more than that, it plays on its intelligence. Many people who want to live in, take up a job, or start a business contact in the United States always try to gain through marriage.
Beneficiaries of the conditional green card discovered to have committed marriage fraud face serious immigration and criminal penalties. Thankfully, there are measures citizens accused of committing marriage fraud can take to fight the allegations and exonerate yourself with the right processes filed and appropriate contact made.
If you’ve been alleged of faking your marriage to get immigration benefits, this article contains some information you’ll find useful. We will talk about the different ways in which you can beat the marriage fraud allegations and other related matters.
What Is the Penalty for a Fake Marriage?
The penalty for a fake marriage if discovered is five years in prison at most, a $250,000 fine, or both. The Immigration and Nationality Act 275(c) clearly spells out the immigration and criminal consequences for faking marriage for immigration purposes.
According to the INA, an individual who intentionally enters a marriage for the purpose of evading the immigration laws is guilty of marriage fraud. Such will be imprisoned for not more than five years and fined with the above amount or, worse, both.
The immigration consequences of faking a marriage for immigration purposes include being charged with visa fraud, conspiracy, and making false statements. Each offense carries its own prison sentences and fines, which will be added to the above.
Is It a Crime to Fake a Marriage?
Faking a marriage is considered a federal offense punishable by law; both the immigrant and permanent resident will face prosecution if discovered. For the immigrant, they face severe charges, including paying thousands of dollars as fine, serving jail time, or even both.
Additionally, their visa will be revoked immediately and when they’re out of jail, they’ll be deported to their country. Furthermore, they’ll have a hard time getting a U.S. visa or green cards in the future.
On the other hand, the severity of the punishment for the citizen depends on how involved they were. If they entered the fake marriage knowing it wasn’t legitimate, that’s sham marriage; if unknowingly, it is marriage fraud. The US citizen can face jail time, a fine, or both; the charges are severe if they willingly entered the marriage.
What Defines Marriage Fraud?
Marriage fraud refers to when immigrants marry a green card holder or US citizen to obtain a marriage-based visa. It is considered a serious offense that involves jail time, a fine, a deportation, or all three. Perpetrators may face criminal charges if they paid the US citizen to marry them or the US citizen marries them as a favor.
Also, there’ll be prosecution if the foreign spouse deceives the citizen who believes the marriage is legitimate. They’ll also be charged if they mail-ordered the marriage or they enter a visa lottery fraudulent marriage.
How Does the USCIS Investigate Marriages?
The USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) knows that marriage fraud is rampant, thus marriage-based visa petitions face serious scrutiny. If the US department has reasons to suspect or believe that a married couple isn’t legitimate, the USCIS officers or in conjunction with an attorney will investigate the life of the spouse based on the provision of the law.
They may typically visit the married couple at their residence (it is usually one spouse at a time) or speak with their neighbors to confirm if they live together. They’ll also investigate to see if they own their property jointly or share a household, and other related questions in line with the law.
In addition, the USCIS officers may arrange interviews or initiate a process with the person at the government offices or the couple’s residence. They will ask such a person a series of questions, private questions, at the interview concerning every aspect of their marital relationship.
For example, they’ll ask the person about the brand of one spouse’s underwear, their favorite food, and anything else – excluding intrusive matters like sexual habits. If your truths are denied, your next best opportunity is to challenge such allegations by a court process. When denied, you don’t just file a petition without understanding what the law says about immigrants. It is best to hire an attorney who is versed in immigration law to help you and your spouse sort the issue.
Can You Challenge Marriage Fraud Allegations in Court?
If you’ve been wrongly accused of marriage fraud, you can challenge the accusations in court. Sometimes, couples face marriage fraud allegations because they didn’t answer the questions correctly or didn’t bring sufficient evidence of the legitimacy of their marriage.
Once that happens, the USCIS will issue an NTA (Notice to Appear) and place the applicant in removal proceedings for marriage fraud. If you don’t fight, especially when you’re innocent, you’ll not only face deportation, you’ll be barred from ever obtaining a family-based visa.
It’s important that you hire an immigration attorney because immigration cases like this can be difficult to win. Create an attorney client relationship and develop strategies to overcome fraud allegations, including getting the best documents and explaining your life together.
How Can You Avoid Marriage Fraud Allegations in Your Interview?
Considering how often people use marriage to defraud the US government, the latter gives marriage-based visas an extra scrutiny. Thus, you want to be careful what you say during your immigration interview to avoid leading the officer to believe you’re committing marriage fraud.
The best way to avoid that is working with an experienced immigration lawyer who:
- Prepares you for the interview questions because they know what questions will be asked;
- Helps you prepare the required documents to take to your interview, including official and unofficial forms and documents; and
- Resolves whatever issues may cause the interviewing officer to see red flags.
Can You Appeal a Marriage Fraud Denial?
Sometimes, couples are accused of committing marriage fraud because they don’t have enough documentation evidence that their marriage is real. If the immigration judge doesn’t believe you’re telling the truth, they’ll deny your application on the grounds of marriage fraud.
In this case, you have an option to file an appeal to the District Director of the USCIS local office. It has to be to the one that denied your visa petition, and must be within thirty days of receiving the notice.
Your best option here is to hire a law firm experienced in these things to help you file the appeal. Working with an immigration attorney increases your chances of overturning the judgment on your immigration status.
Let Herman Legal Group Help You?
Beating allegations of marriage fraud as clients is not as easy as you have thought to be. Many clients spend a lot of time and money and still fail to achieve their aim. To avoid being one of such persons, it is best you hire a qualified immigration lawyer or work with an immigration firm whose attorneys specialize in green card application for spouses.
At Herman Legal Group, we have the best immigration lawyer in Richard Herman and a host of other outstanding attorneys who can handle your immigration case and ensure you beat every marriage allegation or fraudulent marriage claim standing in the way of your green card application. To get started, you can schedule a bona fide consultation today by calling +1-216-696-6170. As a U.S citizen you can have this consultation in our office and if you are not a U.S. citizen, this consultation can be done virtually.
To schedule a direct consultation with Richard Herman who is the best immigration lawyer and discuss your green card application, removal proceedings, how to handle your previous marriages or what to present at the department of homeland security, you can book online.
If you’re obtaining a green card based on marriage in certain states like Florida, you have a lot of work to do to prove your good faith. It will typically involve being invited for stokes interview as part of the conditional green card process. If the interviewer isn’t convinced of your answers during the interview, they may invite you for a second interview. On the other hand, if they suspect something’s fishy, they’re at liberty to investigate, which may involve speaking to a family member.
If your marriage to the citizen spouse is bona fide, you’ll need to supply enough evidence to show it. Meanwhile, you can beat false marriage fraud allegations in court with the help of an experienced lawyer.