As a Las Vegas green card lawyer who is an immigrant I fully understand the need of many immigrants to come to the United States. Legal status in the United States can seem so impossible to many that they are willing to enter into a sham marriage to get a green card with the promise of a better life. However green card marriage fraud is not just a criminal offense but it can separate a foreign national from the United States for life and produce lots of unintended consequences such as blackmail. Foreign nationals and United States citizens/LPR should contact an immigration attorney before not after entering into a marriage with each other as persons who marry in good faith can be wrongly accused of immigration marriage fraud.
What is Green Card Marriage Fraud?
Green card marriage fraud occurs when a foreign national marries a USC for LPR to get green card status and does not have an intention to establish a life together at the time of the marriage. Seeking a green card through a marriage that is based upon business (exchange of money or service) or convenience but without an intention to establish a life together as husband and wife is green card marriage fraud.
What is not Marriage Fraud?
- Wanting a green card as something extra, in addition to the love and companionship of your spouse is not green card marriage fraud.
- Failure to prove that your marriage to a US citizen was in good faith is not marriage fraud. This failure may result from of lack of evidence of a good faith marriage such as insurance policies, joint property, lease, income tax returns, bank account, etc.
Penalties for Marriage Fraud
It is better to seek other legal avenues of immigrating to the United States. A marriage to a friend or paying a stranger to help you immigrate to the United States can have serious legal consequences for you and the US citizen or legal permanent resident petitioner. The Department of Homeland Security has many means to investigate and do surveillance on persons suspected of fraud. If USCIS finds that marriage fraud was committed both civil and criminal consequences for the immigrant, and criminal consequences for the U.S. citizen or permanent resident petitioner may result.
- Denial of a green card – a card that was previously issued may also be revoked.
- Criminal charges -for both the US citizen and the foreign national. Under INA 275(c) and under 18 U.S.C. 1546 (a) involving imprisonment for up to 5 years and 15 years respectively.
- Deportation – In addition to the deportation of the beneficiary, if the petitioner is a permanent resident he or she may be placed before immigration court and ultimately deported.
- Lifetime bar – If the USCIS find marriage fraud in your marriage to a US citizen or permanent resident subsequent immigrant petitions for you will be denied by law. So if you did a first marriage for a green card and later find a different person who you really love, your immigration petition based upon your later marriage will still be denied because of the past immigration marriage fraud.