Marriage fraud is a federal immigration crime, according to 8 US Code §1154. It is illegal to enter a marriage for the sole purpose of obtaining a visa or green card to live or work in the United States.
If the federal government has accused you of marriage fraud, you may want a Duncanville marriage fraud lawyer to defend your rights. A criminal defense attorney with the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg can help you refute evidence of a fraudulent marriage and prove your relationship’s validity.
What Is Marriage Fraud?
Marriage fraud occurs when a couple marries not because of a “bona fide” relationship but to obtain a visa or green card for one of the involved parties. According to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), marriage fraud happens when:
- A U.S. citizen accepts payment to marry a foreign national already living in the United States.
- A U.S. citizen marries an alien as a favor.
- A foreign national defrauds a U.S. citizen who believes they have entered a legitimate marriage.
- A U.S. citizen and alien engage in a “mail-order” marriage, in which at least one party knows the marriage is not legitimate.
Immigration, Visas, And Green Cards In Texas
According to the American Immigration Council, immigrants make up about one-sixth of Texas’s population, with about half of all immigrants in the state hailing from Mexico. Additionally, immigrants compose over 20 percent of the Texas labor force. According to USA.gov, some common types of visas are those issued for family, education, and employment reasons.
Individuals who wish to live permanently in the U.S. can seek a family-based visa if sponsored by a family member aged 21 or older with U.S. citizenship or Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) status. Citizens or lawful residents can petition for a family-based visa for their spouse, child, parent, or sibling. Immigrants can also legally reside in the country on employment-based visas, which generally require proof of a job offer from a U.S. employer.
Visas grant an individual the right to reside in the U.S. for a temporary, specified period. Immigrants already in the U.S. who wish to remain in the country permanently can apply for a green card. As with a visa, green card seekers need a family member or employer with U.S. citizenship or LPR status to sponsor their application.
Marriage Fraud Is A Federal Offense
Parties who commit marriage fraud face severe penalties, including steep fines and incarceration. According to 8 US Code §1325, individuals who knowingly enter a marriage to evade immigration laws can serve up to five years in prison, pay fines of up to $250,000, or both.
Additionally, the foreign national involved in the fraudulent (“sham”) marriage may face immediate deportation and a lifetime ban on acquiring U.S. citizenship.
If you are under suspicion or have been arrested for marriage fraud, your relationship, freedom, and financial stability may be at stake. Our Duncanville marriage fraud lawyers can fight to protect your rights and help you navigate the federal legal system and immigration laws.
Duncanville Marriage Fraud Lawyer Near Me (214) 696-9253
Why Would The Government Suspect Marriage Fraud?
According to ICE, the government views marriage fraud as a threat to national security, financial institutions, and the immigration system. Because the government takes marriage fraud seriously, it requires a lot of proof that a marriage between a U.S. citizen and an alien is valid.
It is not enough to simply apply for a Texas marriage license and perform the necessary steps to become legally wed. You must show that your relationship is bona fide, meaning you and your spouse intend to establish a life together. Documents used to prove a marriage’s validity may include joint bank statements, children’s birth certificates, and leases or mortgages.
Officials will look for further proof of a bona fide marriage during a visa or green card interview with the individual seeking citizenship and their spouse. If the government suspects your marriage is not valid, you may have to participate in a second interview (known as a “Stokes” interview), during which questioners will separate you and your spouse and speak with you individually to see if there are inconsistencies in your answers.
The government may view the following as “red flags” signaling a fraudulent marriage:
- You and your spouse do not speak the same language.
- You and your spouse do not reside at the same address.
- You and your spouse live together but do not interact (for example, you work nights and your spouse works days, meaning you are rarely home together, do not share a bed, etc.)
- You kept your marriage secret from friends and family.
- You married soon after meeting or shortly after one party’s divorce.
- You married shortly after the government began removal proceedings due to your or your spouse residing in the U.S. without documentation.
- You and your spouse have different racial, religious, and/or educational backgrounds.
- There is a significant age difference between you and your spouse.
- The involved U.S. citizen or permanent resident has married and petitioned for other immigrants in the past.
- The non-citizen involved comes from a country with a high rate of immigration fraud.
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Our Duncanville Marriage Fraud Attorneys Can Help With Your Case
If the government believes you have engaged in a sham marriage, you will need to provide proof your relationship is real. Furthermore, if things go far enough, immigration officials may press charges, and you may need to defend yourself to avoid criminal penalties.
Our Duncanville marriage fraud lawyers can defend you against fraud charges and help you prove your relationship is legitimate. Our marriage fraud attorneys serving Duncanville can:
- Provide explanations for “red flags,” such as age differences or language barriers
- Help you prepare for questioning by immigration officials (this is particularly important if officials ask for a Stokes interview)
- Assist you with preparing your home for planned or impromptu inspections
- Submit documentation demonstrating your marriage is bona fide, including financial statements, proof of shared property or residency (vehicle titles, utility bills, rental agreements, etc.), photographs and videos of your life together, and testimony from friends and family.
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Contact The Law Offices Of Randall B. Isenberg For Help With Your Marriage Fraud Case In Duncanville
Do not leave something as important as your marriage to chance. Attorney Randall B. Isenberg has more than 30 years of criminal law experience as a former prosecutor and state district judge. He and his team will put their legal knowledge and our firm’s resources to work building a case that aims to prove your relationship’s legitimacy.
Let us guide you through the complex immigration system and protect your rights in federal court, if necessary. Contact us today to learn more about working with a Duncanville marriage fraud lawyer from our team.