Immigrating to the United States requires a visa that allows you to go to school or work here. The immigration process can be very complex and time-consuming, and some people never get the chance to start a life in America legally. But everyone must follow the same rules for immigration to keep citizens, residents, and visitors safe. And if someone breaks those rules, they can face serious consequences.
Marriage fraud is a common way for foreign nationals to gain permanent resident status. If you are being investigated for or charged with marriage fraud, an Allen marriage fraud lawyer from the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg can preserve your right to a fair trial.
What Is Marriage Fraud?
Marriage fraud is when two people get married for the sole purpose of getting one of them a permanent resident card, also known as a green card. Generally, expedited permanent resident status is a privilege afforded only to the spouses of U.S. citizens and permanent residents. As a result, what would typically take many months or years can take just a few weeks or short months.
This fake union, also known as a “sham marriage,” expedites the approval process for a green card. That is why many foreign nationals marry citizens and legal permanent residents. However, many citizen-foreign national marriages are not fraudulent.
Examples Of Marriage Fraud
Marriage fraud occurs when the marriage is solely for expediting the immigration process. According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), there are three general types of marriage fraud:
- A U.S. citizen is paid or offered a favor to marry a foreign national
- “Mail-order” marriages where either the citizen or the foreign national knows the marriage is fraudulent
- A foreign national who marries a citizen under false pretenses to obtain a green card
It is important to note federal courts have upheld that marriage between a citizen and a foreign national may be partially based on helping your partner get a green card. But that should be a perk on top of building a life together. USCIS and ICE will be looking for evidence that proves you and your partner sincerely wanted to build a life together upon getting married.
What If I Thought My Marriage Was Legitimate?
Marriage fraud still occurs even if one of the partners believe their marriage is legitimate. Here are some examples of how this happens:
- A citizen marries a foreign national who knows the marriage is not legitimate
- A foreign national marries a citizen who knows the marriage is not legitimate
- A marriage between a citizen and a foreign national where one person is still legally married to another (whether they know that or not)
If you believe your marriage to be legitimate, but ICE is investigating you for marriage fraud, a marriage fraud attorney serving Allen, Texas, from our firm can provide you with thorough and fair representation.
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Typical Evidence Found In Legitimate Marriages
To get a permanent resident card, a married couple must complete interviews with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to verify their relationship. USCIS and ICE typically look for the following evidence that demonstrates a marriage’s legitimacy:
- History of a romantic relationship
- Shared language and religion
- Shared children
- Shared financial assets
- Time spent living together
- Whether you have met and gotten to know each other’s families
USCIS and ICE recognize that not all married couples meet all these standards. For example, a couple may have never lived together but have been romantically involved for years. Therefore, these agencies will review your application, verify the information from your interviews, and meet with friends and family to verify your relationship.
If USCIS or ICE suspects your marriage is fraudulent, an Allen marriage fraud attorney from our firm can help collect evidence and build a case in your defense.
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Charges And Penalties For Marriage Fraud
Marriage fraud is a felony, and U.S. citizens and foreign nationals can face criminal charges for marriage fraud, visa fraud, conspiracy, harboring an alien, and making false statements. Each of these additional charges carries its own penalties.
U.S. citizens found guilty of marriage fraud may face:
- Up to 5 years in prison
- Up to $250,000 in fines
Foreign nationals found guilty of marriage fraud may face:
- Up to 5 years in prison
- Up to $250,000 in fines
- Denial of adjusted status
- Denial of future immigration petitions
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How A Marriage Fraud Defense Lawyer Can Help With Your Case
Since marriage fraud is a felony charge, it is important to work with a defense attorney who can:
- Gather evidence about your marriage
- Review your petitions and interviews
- Prove your intent to build a life with your partner
- Fight for a fair sentence
- Protect your rights to a fair trial
Your marriage can be called into question at any time during your application process, after the green card is approved, or when the foreign national applies for a 10-year green card or citizenship. USCIS or ICE may also investigate your marriage if either of you file for divorce.
You should speak to a marriage fraud defense attorney if, at any time, you have any reason to believe you are suspected of marriage fraud, if ICE or USCIS has started investigating you, or if you are being charged.
Let An Allen Marriage Fraud Attorney Get Started On Your Defense Today
Attorney Randy Isenberg has more than 30 years of legal experience. He has been on both sides of the bench, including terms as a State District Trial Judge and Senior Chief Felony Prosecutor. As a certified Criminal Defense Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy (NBTA) and founding attorney of our firm, he continues to fight for fair trials for plaintiffs and the accused.
Contact an Allen marriage fraud lawyer from the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg today for a free case evaluation to find out how we can help your case.