Marrying a United States citizen comes with significant immigration benefits for a non-resident. In some cases, non-residents who could soon face removal from the United States enter sham marriages with citizens in an effort to remain in the country. Knowing that this happens in some cases, federal authorities aggressively investigate marriage relationships between U.S. citizens and foreign nationals to identify marriage fraud.
The consequences could be steep if USCIS accuses you of marriage fraud. Not only could a non-resident spouse face deportation, but both parties could also face criminal consequences. Reach out to a Colleyville marriage fraud lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your options.
When Legal Status Is Based On Marriage In The U.S.
The question of marriage fraud is important in countless immigration cases when the marriage itself is what qualifies some individuals to remain in the United States lawfully. For example, when a non-resident marries a U.S. citizen, they could be awarded conditional permanent resident status. During a two-year period, the spouse could live in the United States while working toward a green card.
However, conditional permanent resident status is just that—conditional. A spouse must not only meet certain requirements while living in the United States, but they must also have married their spouse for reasons outside of immigration purposes. Each year, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) spends enormous resources investigating married couples seeking to use their relationship as the basis for one spouse to immigrate into the country.
What Does USCIS Look For In Marriage Fraud Investigations?
Agents with the USCIS carefully scrutinize every application from married couples seeking an immigrant visa based on their marriage. To detect signs of fraud, USCIS agents will dive deep into the background of both spouses to look for signs that the marriage is a sham. If these agents determine that the marriage only occurred for the purposes of immigration, they could pursue criminal charges.
It is not enough for a couple to provide proof of a marriage license. This is because a valid, legal marriage on its own is not enough to secure a marriage-based visa. Instead, USCIS investigators require proof that a marriage is legitimate. Some of the signs of sham marriages could include:
No Shared Language
One of the first indicators of marriage fraud is the lack of a shared language. While this factor on its own is not a sign of fraud, the inability for married couples to communicate directly leaves many investigators with additional questions.
Large Age Gap
It is not that unusual for individuals of different ages to marry. However, USCIS agents believe that large age gaps are prevalent with sham marriages.
Differences In Address
Most married couples typically live together following their wedding. Therefore, it raises a red flag when a married couple does not live in the same home. Of course, there are valid reasons why two spouses might not live in the same home—especially for the short-term.
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The timing of the marriage could also be a point of concern for investigators. For example, a marriage that occurs shortly before a non-citizen’s temporary visa expires could raise red flags. Getting married shortly after meeting or immediately after a divorce could also be considered suspicious.
The Consequences Of Marriage Fraud In Coleyville, Texas
In addition to setbacks on the immigration front, there may be steep criminal penalties that can come with allegations of marriage fraud. However, these consequences can vary. The consequences depend on the details of your case and what USCIS finds in their investigation of your marriage.
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There are notable consequences for marriage fraud in an immigration case. These consequences go beyond seeing your application for a visa denied. Often, USCIS will initiate deportation and removal proceedings against a non-resident once they conclude marriage fraud has occurred. What’s more, that person may be barred from ever having a visa application granted in the future.
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An adverse outcome in your immigration case is unfortunate—especially if this outcome permanently bars you or your loved one from ever securing a visa. However, criminal penalties are often at the forefront of people’s minds when they face charges of marriage fraud. Under federal law, any person convicted of knowingly committing marriage fraud could face five years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, or a combination of the two.
In addition to marriage fraud, other charges are common in these situations. For example, many people charged with marriage fraud also face visa fraud or conspiracy charges. The result could be steeper penalties.
How To Fight Allegations Of Marriage Fraud With A Texas Immigration Attorney
Ultimately, fighting allegations of marriage fraud requires your attorney to prove that your marriage is legitimate. This means demonstrating that the relationship is more than one of convenience.
There are times when your attorney could rebut the evidence presented by USCIS. For example, temporary work relocations could explain why you live apart from your spouse. Often, providing context for the aspects of your marriage that are unlike most couples is the most important job your attorney can do.
You have the right to defend yourself from the criminal aspect of marriage fraud allegations. You can take some steps regarding an appeal of an order for deportation and removal based on marriage fraud. It is vital that you talk to an attorney as soon as possible to protect your rights as well as the rights of your spouse.
Talk To A Coleyville Marriage Fraud Lawyer In Texas Today
Allegations of marriage fraud are serious, and the outcome of these investigations could impact you for the rest of your life. In addition to a negative outcome in your immigration case, you could also face criminal consequences. Due to the high stakes, you must seek out legal counsel immediately.
The Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg are prepared to advocate on your behalf. The USCIS is not above making mistakes, and many allegations of marriage fraud are unfair. Reach out to a Colleyville marriage fraud lawyer today for a free consultation.
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