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What is Immigration Marriage Fraud?

Posted by Posted on in Federal Crimes

In short, immigration marriage fraud is when a citizen and a non-citizen enter into a “sham marriage” strictly for the purpose of gaining some type of legal benefit relating to immigration status. Because this type of immigration fraud is common, marriages between a U.S. citizen and an immigrant who is facing challenges due to their legal status may fall under scrutiny. Immigration fraud is a serious crime and carries severe penalties for both parties - including deportation for the immigrant. If you are being investigated for immigration fraud related to your marriage, always contact a qualified attorney as soon as you can. 

What is a Sham Marriage? 

A sham marriage is one that was entered into for the sole purpose of allowing an immigrant to obtain lawful permanent residence in the U.S. It may be referred to as a “green-card marriage.” If the married couple actually intended to form a real marital relationship and build a life together, then it is not a sham marriage. Even if a couple was partially motivated by immigration benefits, the marriage can still be legitimate as long as immigration concerns were not the only reason the couple married. It can be very difficult for government officials to tell the difference between a legitimate marriage that was entered into in good faith and a sham marriage that was entered into for the purpose of committing immigration fraud. 

How Does the Government Decide Whether a Marriage is Legitimate? 

Marriages generally come under suspicion as soon as the immigrant spouse applies for permanent legal residence based on the marriage. If you and your spouse are suspected of immigration marriage fraud, the process you will go through can be invasive and nerve-wracking. The government will examine your life together to try to determine whether you are living in a genuine marriage relationship. They may consider whether you: 

  • Cohabitate

  • Have combined finances

  • Spend holidays and special dates, such as birthdays, together

  • Have children in common or co-parent

  • Spend time together and share interests

The government may also interview you and your spouse separately, as well as your friends and family members. 

What Happens if the Government Believes a Marriage is Immigration Fraud? 

Both spouses could be charged with Immigration Fraud, which is a federal crime and a felony. The consequences can be severe. If convicted, both spouses could be facing a five-year prison term and up to a $250,000 fine. The immigrant spouse, however, could also face deportation and a permanent ban from reapplying. 

Contact an Illinois Immigration Fraud Lawyer 

If you and your spouse are being investigated for immigration marriage fraud, it is extremely important that you are represented by an attorney who has experience with these types of cases. A strong defense is crucial to reducing the possibility of being convicted of a federal felony and protecting the residency status of the spouse. Contact a Chicago immigration fraud attorney if you and your spouse are facing these charges. Call the Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel at 312-629-0669 to schedule a free and confidential consultation. 



Sources: 

https://www.justice.gov/archives/jm/criminal-resource-manual-1948-marriage-fraud-8-usc-1325c-and-18-usc-1546 

 

https://www.ice.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Document/2016/marriageFraudBrochure.pdf

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