When a U.S. Citizen marries a non-citizen, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) investigates to ensure the couple has not committed marriage fraud. If you are married and you or your spouse is applying for a green card, a USCIS official may request an interview or other evidence to prove your marriage is legitimate.
You will face serious penalties if convicted of marriage fraud, so it may be in your best interests to hire a criminal defense attorney. A DeSoto marriage fraud lawyer from the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg can help you with your case.
What Is Marriage Fraud?
According to the Immigration Marriage Fraud Amendments of 1986, non-U.S. citizens receive a two-year conditional permanent residency when they marry a U.S. citizen. USCIS considers a marriage fraudulent when a couple gets married for the sole purpose of allowing a non-citizen to reap this benefit.
In other words, someone commits marriage fraud when they marry a citizen or lawful permanent resident solely to obtain a green card, granting them permanent residency. They are not in love with the person they are marrying and do not intend to build a life with them.
The U.S. citizen may agree to the marriage just to do the alien a favor, or they may receive payment in exchange. In some cases, the U.S. citizen may believe the marriage is legitimate, but the alien is only pretending to love them so they can get married and obtain a green card.
What Are the Penalties for Marriage Fraud?
Stiff penalties await those who knowingly commit marriage fraud, including up to five years in prison and/or up to $250,000 in fines, per 8 USC §1325. A guilty non-citizen will also be deported and denied permanent residency.
How Can You Prove Your Marriage Is Legitimate?
To avoid the harsh penalties accompanying a marriage fraud conviction, you must prove to USCIS that your marriage is legitimate. In general, a legitimate marriage is formed by two individuals who want to start and build a life together.
Your DeSoto marriage fraud lawyer will help you navigate the process of gathering evidence to prove your marriage is authentic. Of course, each marriage is different, and the USCIS understands this when making a ruling. However, some of the main factors that constitute a genuine marriage may include the following:
- Living together
- Speaking the same language
- Similar moral and religious beliefs
- Going on vacations together
- Engaging in romantic activities
- A desire to have children together
- Mutual friends
- Sharing similar interests
- Joint loans and bank accounts
For example, if your spouse does not speak English, but that is the only language you speak, that fact may reflect poorly on your case. It may also work against you if you live separately from your spouse or do not have any evidence of being involved in a romantic relationship with each other.
The USCIS uses two methods to determine whether a marriage is legitimate: documentation and interviews.
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USCIS will request various documents from you, such as:
- Your marriage certificate
- Bank account statements
- Income statements to show work history
- Bills that show you and your spouse live together
- Letters from friends and family or affidavits of support that authenticate the relationship
For example, if you can provide photos of you and your spouse on your honeymoon, a mortgage application with both of your names on it, and testimony from friends who frequently spend time with both of you and can verify the nature of your relationship, these pieces of evidence may be very beneficial to your case.
Detailed documentation is critical and can help USCIS determine whether your marriage is fraudulent or legitimate. Your DeSoto marriage fraud lawyer can help you navigate the process of gathering and submitting evidence.
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The interview process is another important step in authenticating your relationship. USCIS officials will interview you and your spouse together and individually and then compare your answers to check for inconsistencies.
They will ask you many questions, some of which will be very personal, but you should answer honestly. The USCIS interviewer will review your documentation and use it to ensure your answers are consistent with your evidence and your spouse’s answers to the same questions.
Your DeSoto marriage fraud attorney at the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg can help you prepare for your interviews and gather the documents to support your case.
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Your DeSoto Marriage Fraud Lawyer Can Help With a Green Card Denial
In some cases, you and your spouse might intend to enter into a legitimate relationship; however, if you don’t have the documentation to back up your claim, USCIS might mistake your marriage for being fraudulent. If your or your spouse’s green card is denied, you can appeal this decision, but you must act quickly.
You can file an appeal with USCIS within 30 days after your green card is denied. If you don’t file an appeal within this deadline, the decision is considered final.
Being convicted of marriage fraud can cost you large sums of money and your freedom; therefore, you should consider hiring a DeSoto marriage fraud attorney to help you throughout the process.
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Now that you know more about what constitutes marriage fraud and how USCIS determines whether marriages between citizens and foreign nationals are legitimate, it’s important to gather the proper documentation to prove your case.
If USCIS has accused you of marriage fraud and denied you or your spouse a green card, please get in touch with us at the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg today. Our DeSoto marriage fraud lawyers are ready and able to review your case and help you seek the justice you deserve.