Have you recently been accused of committing marriage fraud? Do you have concerns that your citizenship or immigration status could be at risk? If so, you may be unsure of how to protect yourself from deportation.
A Farmers Branch marriage fraud lawyer at the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg could review the circumstances of your case and determine how to best defend yourself and prove the validity of your marriage.
What is Marriage Fraud?
According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), marriage fraud occurs any time a foreign national enters a marriage solely for the purpose of obtaining United States citizenship.
The United States Justice Department is responsible for handling criminal charges for marriage fraud. Any time two parties who have obtained a marriage license, underwent a marriage ceremony, and otherwise attempted to seek a marriage to secure a green card may face prosecution.
When two parties do not intend to live together as a married couple, or one spouse defrauds the other to secure United States citizenship, they could face criminal charges. If convicted, the penalties could be severe and have a lasting impact on your life.
Marriages of Convenience
Technically, under United States law, you do have the right to enter into a marriage of convenience without facing criminal charges. You will need to meet specific requirements for your marriage to be considered valid.
These criteria often include both parties being old enough to consent to the marriage, obtaining a valid marriage license, and having no misrepresentation or fraud regarding the marriage.
For marriages of convenience to be valid in the United States, both spouses must reside in the same household and have some type of relationship once the foreign national has immigrated to the U.S. and obtained their green card as opposed to separating. If spouses separate once the immigrant receives their visa, USCIS may conduct an investigation into marriage fraud.
Determination of Marriage Fraud
The requirements for marriage fraud charges to be brought forward are far less strict than you might think. Even if you met the state requirements for entering into a marriage with your spouse unless you intended to legitimately live as a family and a married couple, USCIS and the United States Supreme Court will consider the marriage fraudulent.
If the marriage eventually dissolves, you are under no legal obligation to remain married. However, the Immigration Marriage Fraud Amendments, as part of 8 U.S.C. Section 11862(a), require a two-year conditional status for immigrant spouses looking to secure a permanent U.S. resident status.
Here, the couple must remain in a valid marriage and as a family for a minimum of two years, and the marriage must continue to remain after the fact for the foreign national to obtain U.S. residency.
Penalties for Marriage Fraud
If you are charged criminally with marriage fraud and convicted, the penalties could be severe. According to 8 U.S. Code Section 1325(c), a marriage fraud conviction carries harsh consequences, some of which could include:
- Fines as high as $250,000
- Five years in a federal prison
United States citizens who actively participate in marriage fraud could be charged criminally as well. In addition to marriage fraud charges, you could also be charged with:
- Conspiracy to commit fraud
- Visa fraud
- Making false statements
- Harboring a foreign national
There are many collateral consequences associated with a criminal conviction for marriage fraud as well. Some examples include:
- Child custody or visitation issues
- Loss of firearm rights
- Loss of federal student aid eligibility
- Trouble finding a job
- Trouble finding affordable and safe housing
- Difficulty maintaining relationships with family and friends
- Job and housing location restrictions
- Suspension or revocation of your professional licenses
- Suspension or revocation of your driver’s license
Defenses to Marriage Fraud Charges in Farmers Branch
When you are facing marriage fraud charges in Farmers Branch, preparing a powerful defense strategy is in your best interests. In some cases, your attorney may be able to work with the prosecuting attorney to get the charges against you reduced or dismissed altogether.
However, for the marriage fraud charges against you to result in a conviction, the prosecutor will be tasked with proving beyond a reasonable doubt that your marriage was for the sole purpose of obtaining citizenship for yourself or your spouse.
Proving your marriage’s legitimacy will be essential if you hope to dodge a conviction. Your attorney will carefully examine the circumstances of your case to determine how to best approach your defense strategy. In some cases, negotiating a plea deal may be well advised. You can find out more about which options are best suited for your case when you speak with us. For example, we can give you more information about the statute of limitations for marriage fraud and how it may affect your case.
Help From a Marriage Fraud Lawyer
Satisfying the requirements to show that your marriage is legitimate by providing photos, communication exchanges, witness statements, social media posts, and other valuable evidence could go a long way in supporting your case. Your attorney may also work to show that your relationship existed prior to the marriage, which can help prove its validity.
Work With a Marriage Fraud Lawyer in Farmers Branch Today
Marriage fraud accusations should always be taken seriously. Your immigration status could be on the line. Reach out to a Farmers Branch marriage fraud lawyer at the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg to determine how to best approach your marriage fraud defense.
You can reach us by phone or through our secure contact form to learn more about what’s next for your marriage fraud case in Farmers Branch and prepare for all possible outcomes.