If you believe your spouse married you to obtain U.S. citizenship, or if you have been accused of entering a fraudulent marriage to help another person obtain U.S. citizenship, you may be accused of committing marriage fraud. Fraud as a means of divorce refers to the grounds for the demise of your marriage.
However, Texas is a no-fault state for divorce purposes, so you will not need to prove your spouse wronged you to obtain a divorce. However, you may need to take steps to protect yourself from facing criminal charges if you are accused of committing marriage fraud.
What Is Marriage Fraud?
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) describes marriage fraud as any instance where a United States citizen marries a foreign national with the purpose of obtaining legal permanent resident status.
Marriage fraud can take several forms, some of which include:
- A citizen of the United States marrying an immigrant with the knowledge that the immigrant is hoping to obtain a green card
- A citizen of the United States being paid to marry a foreign national
- Visa lottery fraudulent marriages
- Mail-order marriages
- A foreign national lying to a United States citizen to enter a marriage the US citizen believes is valid
How Does the USCIS Detect Marriage Fraud?
Marriage fraud is a continuing problem for USCIS. For this reason, this government agency has taken steps to thoroughly review all these marriage-based applications. Before USCIS will grant a marriage visa, they will need significant proof the marriage is legitimate.
Spouses will also be required to fill out a more detailed application and may be required to complete multiple interviews with immigration officials. You can expect to undergo two-year testing if your marriage is less than two years old to ensure the marriage’s legitimacy.
What Are the Penalties for Marriage Fraud?
Anyone, including foreign nationals and United States citizens, who participates in marriage fraud can be charged criminally. The consequences you can face will vary widely depending on whether you are a foreign national or a United States citizen.
However, some of the penalties you could be facing if you are convicted include:
- Deportation if you are not a United States citizen
- Fines as high as $250,000
- Incarceration in federal prison for up to five years
If you were also charged with other types of immigration crimes in addition to marriage fraud, such as visa fraud, or making false statements, you could face additional penalties. Furthermore, if you are a foreign national in the process of obtaining a green card, you can expect your subsequent visa applications to be denied.
Suppose you are a foreign national accused of tricking their spouse into marrying them for a green card. In that case, you may also find your marriage will be annulled, or a divorce could be granted depending on the length of the marriage and the specific circumstances of your case.
How to Prove a Marriage Is Valid
If you are facing marriage fraud accusations, the best way to protect yourself is to prove your marriage is legitimate. You may be required to undergo a marriage visa interview where immigration officers will ask you in-depth questions about your relationship.
Some pieces of evidence that could be used to prove the validity of your marriage could include:
- A copy of your birth certificate
- A copy of your children’s birth certificates
- A copy of your marriage certificate
- Photos from your wedding
- Copies of your joint bank account statements
- Signed affidavits from witnesses who can attest to the validity of your marriage
Appealing Your Green Card Denial
If you are a foreign national whose green card was denied due to suspicion of marriage fraud, providing the necessary documentation will be crucial. However, even if USCIS denies your green card application, you have the right to appeal.
USCIS green card denial appeals must be filed within 30 days of the denial paperwork, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Immigration laws are complex, and you could be facing an uphill battle after marriage fraud accusations. If you are concerned your marriage may be headed for divorce, you may need a marriage fraud attorney who can help you clear your name and protect your future.
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Work with a Marriage Fraud Lawyer from the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg
If you are facing marriage fraud accusations, or someone you love has been accused of committing marriage fraud, and you do not know where to turn for help, reach out to our firm. A Texas marriage fraud attorney at the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg can help.
You can complete our secured contact form or call our office for your confidential consultation. You are not alone and shouldn’t have to defend yourself when it’s our attorneys’ job to do that.