Getting married is supposed to be one of the most exciting times in your life. However, if you have been accused of committing marriage fraud, you could face criminal charges and penalties if you are convicted.
You can get help protecting your future by working with a Carrollton marriage fraud lawyer at the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg. We offer confidential case reviews to help you learn more about which criminal defense strategies are most likely to produce a favorable outcome in your case.
What Is Marriage Fraud?
Marriage fraud most commonly occurs when a U.S. citizen marries a foreign national not because they are in love, but because they want to help the foreign national get a visa so they can live and work in the United States permanently.
Unfortunately, marriage fraud occurs far more frequently than you might think. Such an arrangement is not considered a valid marriage, and immigration officials have the authority to file criminal charges against U.S. citizens and foreign nationals for marriage immigration fraud.
To be charged with marriage fraud, the prosecutor must prove that the marriage was fraudulent and one or both parties intended to deceive immigration officials to obtain a green card or work visa. If you are facing marriage fraud accusations, you must prove your marriage is valid if you hope to avoid criminal penalties.
Risks of Marriage Fraud in Carrollton
The risks of marriage fraud are severe. You might face marriage fraud allegations if authorities accuse you of:
- Attempting to deceive immigration officials
- Providing the government with falsified marriage documents
- Establishing fraudulent living arrangements
You might be surprised to learn that you could also face marriage fraud accusations if you accept money in exchange for marrying a foreign national so that party can obtain a visa. This is considered a “marriage of convenience” and is unlawful under state and federal laws.
If you are formally charged with marriage fraud, you could face harsh criminal penalties and collateral consequences.
U.S. Laws Against Marriage Fraud
Foreign nationals have the authority to obtain a visa in the United States when they marry a United States citizen. However, many marriages involving foreign nationals are fraudulent. When you marry someone from another country, you can expect your marriage to be more closely scrutinized for its validity.
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) investigates all marriages between Americans and foreigners to determine whether the marriage is valid or fraudulent. You must meet specific requirements if you hope to avoid being accused of entering a marriage of convenience or another unlawful marriage. Some of these criteria may include:
- Obtaining a valid marriage license
- Both parties being of legal age to consent to the marriage
- Passing a USCIS investigation without any findings of fraud or misrepresentation
- Proof of living together
- Proof of having created a life together, such as joint bank accounts and utility bills
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Consequences of a Conviction for Marriage Fraud
If you are charged criminally with marriage immigration fraud, the penalties could be severe. Under 8 USC §1325, you could face fines as high as $250,000 and spend up to five years in federal prison.
Foreign nationals convicted of marriage fraud could face deportation and be banned from acquiring United States citizenship for the rest of their lives. You can also expect your marriage to be annulled if you are found guilty of marriage fraud.
There are several other consequences you could face if convicted of marriage immigration fraud, such as:
- Community service
- Completion of mental health counseling
- Attendance at group therapy
- Child custody or visitation problems
- Trouble finding gainful employment
- Difficulty obtaining housing
With penalties this severe, it is crucial to clear your name of the immigration fraud charges you are facing. We encourage you to hire a criminal defense attorney in Carrollton who may be able to help you avoid a conviction.
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How a Marriage Fraud Lawyer in Carrollton Could Help You
If USCIS has accused you and your spouse of committing marriage fraud, you have the right to hire a criminal defense attorney to represent you. Each spouse can obtain an attorney to protect their interests.
It will be up to your Carrollton marriage fraud attorney to obtain the evidence needed to show that your marriage is valid. This will include meeting USCIS criteria and presenting other evidence that shows your marriage is legitimate.
The prosecutor must prove marriage fraud beyond a reasonable doubt to obtain a conviction. However, your attorney will be prepared to refute the state’s evidence and present counterevidence to introduce doubt in the mind of the judge or jury. Some types of evidence your lawyer could use to prove your marriage is valid include:
- Witness statements
- Details regarding your relationship
- Evidence that you reside in the same home
- Photo albums that document your relationship
- Your children’s birth certificates
These are just a few of the different types of evidence your lawyer could use to challenge the charges against you. If you hope to avoid being found guilty of marriage fraud in Carrollton, you may want to seek legal guidance and support from a criminal defense lawyer.
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Get Help from a Carrollton Marriage Fraud Attorney Today
If USCIS has accused you of marriage fraud and are unsure how to prove that you have not violated state or federal marriage or immigration laws, contact us at the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg today.
We can analyze the circumstances of your case to determine how to best approach your defense strategy. Start working on your defense as soon as today by calling our office or completing our secured contact form for a confidential case review. A Carrollton marriage fraud lawyer from our team is standing by to help you.