U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPRs) can marry non-citizens, and after a conditional period, they can apply for their spouse to be granted citizenship. However, marrying exclusively to obtain a green card is a federal offense, and both spouses can incur severe penalties for doing so. Unfortunately, even those who enter valid, loving marriages can be falsely accused of marital fraud if they fail to present sufficient evidence to immigration officials.
At the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg, we represent clients with immigration-related concerns and defend them in criminal cases whenever necessary. If you’re facing allegations of marriage fraud, a Denton marriage fraud lawyer from our criminal defense team can work to protect you from legal ramifications and potential deportation.
What Is Marriage Fraud?
Any marriage with the sole purpose of allowing a non-citizen to enter the U.S. and become a permanent resident is criminal fraud, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
The federal government considers marriage fraud a serious crime. This violation is punishable by extensive fines, prison time, and indefinite immigration-related challenges for the spouse who is not a U.S. citizen.
What Are the Penalties For Marriage Fraud?
If a couple is accused of marriage fraud, both spouses can face severe legal repercussions. According to 8 USC §1325, anyone who commits marriage fraud may face up to five years in prison, up to $250,000 in fines, or both.
Marriage Fraud Can Lead To Removal And Inadmissibility Into The United States
If a non-citizen already living in the U.S. is believed to have been involved in marriage fraud, they can be deposed through the removal process following a hearing before an immigration judge. Furthermore, if an individual wishes to return to the U.S. in the future after being deported based on marriage fraud, they are likely to be denied entry on the grounds of being legally “inadmissible,” according to 8 USC §1182.
Marriage Fraud And Removal/Deportation
Marriage fraud is grounds for deportation under the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 USC §1227). A bona fide marriage begins with a legally valid ceremony and involves a couple that intends to have an ongoing and well-established life together, as evidenced by factors such as the following:
- Living in the same residence
- Celebrating birthdays and holidays
- Spending time with each other’s families
- Going on vacations
- Having children
- Having similar religious beliefs
- Buying cars, houses, or other property together
- Combining other financial, social, and practical aspects of their lives after marriage
If placed in removal proceedings under suspicion of entering a fraudulent marriage, the non-citizen may still try to convince a judge that the marriage is genuine and even ask for a green card to be granted on this basis, if legally possible.
First, however, the immigration judge must closely examine the case, and the non-citizen must testify, present evidence, and be cross-examined by a federal attorney.
Marriage Fraud And Inadmissibility
To be considered inadmissible means to become ineligible for a U.S. visa or green card. When you have fraud or misrepresentation on your record, you are inadmissible under I.N.A. § 212.
While this law doesn’t specifically mention marital fraud, it does say aliens who have attempted to enter the country by fraud or “willfully misrepresenting a material fact” are inadmissible. So, being convicted of marriage will probably make future immigration benefits, such as a lawful permanent residence, unattainable.
If you are in danger of deportation and future inadmissibility due to allegations of marriage fraud, we encourage you to consult with a Denton marriage fraud lawyer who can defend you against the U.S. government.
How U.S. Immigration Officials Identify Denton Marriage Fraud
When applying for a green card based on marriage, immigration officials at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will ask the couple to provide pieces of evidence showing that they have joined their lives. For example, this could include joint bank and credit card account statements, children’s birth certificates, and mortgage documents showing that the couple resides together.
If the documents are not convincing, the immigration officials will likely ask for more or initiate a separate investigation. If evidence is unconvincing, immigration officials can request more proof or visit the home they have listed as a residence for the couple. This visit can be refused, but doing so will likely result in further investigative activities.
Toward the end of the application process, a USCIS official will interview the spouses together and apart to determine if their marriage is bona fide. The interviewer will ask each spouse the same questions while they are separated and then compare their answers. Multiple mismatched answers may lead to a green card denial, with marriage fraud being recorded as the basis.
Upon denial, officials may also forward the case to immigration court for removal proceedings. If you and your spouse have not yet interviewed with USCIS, we urge you to contact our Denton marriage fraud attorneys. We can prepare you for questioning and will do whatever we can to help you avoid being convicted of marriage fraud and being deported.
An Attorney Can Defend You Against Marriage Fraud Charges In Denton
To convict you of marriage fraud, the prosecutor must demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that the primary motivation behind your marriage was to evade U.S. immigration laws. A Denton marriage fraud defense lawyer can help you present evidence that your marriage is authentic and was entered in good faith.
Depending on the reason for your marriage fraud accusations, a Denton marriage fraud attorney can devise a defense strategy that best addresses these issues. They may also be able to negotiate a plea deal on your behalf in which the prosecutor agrees to offer you a reduced sentence.
Denton Marriage Fraud Lawyer Near Me (214) 696-9253
Learn How A Denton Marriage Fraud Immigration Lawyer Can Help You Today
The Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg provides legal guidance and support to U.S. citizens and non-citizens accused of breaking immigration laws. We represent those criminally charged with marriage fraud and related offenses and advocate for their legal rights. Contact us today for a confidential consultation.