Falling in love when you are visiting another country or meeting someone from another country and believing they are “the one” often leads to marriage. However, when you discover who you thought was the love of your life only married you to obtain U.S. lawful permanent status, it’s devastating.
Spouses can commit fraud in a marriage by entering the union solely to obtain a green card. If you are in a happy marriage and completely in love with your spouse, you might be shocked by marriage fraud allegations. Make sure you have a legal advocate on your side who can help you protect yourself from issues regarding your citizenship status, criminal charges, and potential deportation.
What Is Marriage Fraud in the U.S.?
In terms of immigration, both foreign nationals and United States citizens can commit fraud when entering a marriage. Any marriage done to break United States immigration laws and secure lawful permanent resident status for a foreign national is considered marriage fraud.
It is not enough to simply meet the requirements to be wed. You need more than a traditional marriage ceremony and a marriage certificate. You must intend to have a real marriage, live together, and prove you are entering a valid marriage to obtain a marriage-based visa.
Essentially, any time either spouse does not intend to live their life with the other, as married couples would, the marriage could be considered a sham. You could also face marriage fraud allegations if you were already in a legitimate marriage and attempted to remarry for a second time. This second marriage to a foreign national would not be considered valid and would instead be considered fraudulent.
What a “Real Marriage” Looks Like
Essentially, to avoid being accused of engaging in a fraudulent marriage, you must prove to the United States government that you are in a “real marriage.” But with marriage taking so many forms across the United States, what is considered “normal?”
Under the law, married couples participate in a variety of activities together. They might go on vacation, speak the same language, share the same religious beliefs, celebrate important life events together, engage in intimacy, and have children together.
Married couples also often combine their finances and live their lives together as one. Couples who share bank accounts, credit cards, real estate, and vehicles are more likely to prove they are part of a valid marriage. That is not to say married couples will not have problems or arguments. These arguments and issues could be considered signs of a true and legitimate marriage.
How the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Detects Marriage Fraud
USCIS and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials conduct in-depth investigations to determine whether marriage fraud is occurring. If your immigration attorney can show evidence proving the validity of your marriage, USCIS officials will have no other choice but to close their investigation.
If USCIS suspects marriage fraud, they may request both spouses to sit down for an interview. Here, they may ask you specific questions about your marriage, including:
- How long you’ve been married
- How you and your spouse met
- What your wedding was like
- What your ambitions are as a couple
- About your children, if you have any
USCIS officials also have the authority to place you under surveillance to examine you and your spouse’s cohabitation style and interview witnesses, neighbors, employers, landlords, and other parties.
When your marriage is less than two years old, when applying for a marriage-based green card, instead of granting your application, you may be placed on what is known as “conditional residence.” Towards the end of your visa, you and your spouse will be required to submit Form I-751, which goes over more details about your marriage and other facts proving your marriage is ongoing and valid.
If you are accused of committing marriage fraud or if you suspect your spouse married you for a green card, you could be facing marriage fraud charges and the denial of your application. Foreign nationals could expect to be deported, and both U.S. and foreign citizens could be facing five years in federal prison and fines as high as $250,000.
Contact a Marriage Fraud Attorney for Help Today
Any time a United States citizen and a foreign national wed, there is the potential for marriage fraud. USCIS and ICE officials take marriage fraud seriously. If you married for love and were accused of committing marriage fraud, you may need to take steps to defend yourself and your spouse.
Get help from a marriage fraud attorney at the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg today and start working on your defense options. You can call our firm or complete our secured contact form for your confidential case evaluation. You don’t have to go through this alone and shouldn’t.