It is hard to believe that something as seemingly harmless as a marriage can land you in trouble with the United States government, but that is the case with marriage fraud. It is a federal crime to marry someone for the singular purpose of obtaining a visa or green card to remain in the U.S.
If you live in Dallas County, Texas, and you are facing accusations of a fraudulent marriage by the federal government, a Garland marriage fraud lawyer at the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg can help to clear your name. Our bilingual legal staff offer a free case review to the English and Spanish-speaking community who need to find their legal defense options.
Marriage Fraud Is A Crime
The federal government considers a sham marriage a crime per 8 U.S. Code § 1154. A sham marriage is entered into to circumvent immigration laws. In this arrangement, at least one of the parties is aware that the marriage is not real and is using it as a path to permanent U.S. residence. They marry to obtain a visa or a green card that will allow them to stay legally.
Types Of Marriage Fraud
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) operates a division known as Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), which works together with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to investigate crimes of marriage fraud. HSI reports the primary ways marriage fraud is committed:
- A U.S. citizen marries a foreign national in exchange for money
- A U.S. citizen marries a foreign national as a favor
- “Mail-order” marriages in which at least one spouse knows the marriage is a sham.
- A foreign national deceives a U.S. citizen who believes the marriage is real.
If you are facing accusations of marriage fraud based on any of the above situations (or any other), you should consider contacting a Garland marriage fraud attorney who can help. A conviction for a fraudulent marriage can have much harsher penalties than you might expect.
Consequences Of Marriage Fraud
Using illegal means to remain a legal resident in the United States is not a small offense to the federal government. It is considered a breach of any threat to United States security, financial institutions, and the integrity of the immigration system.
Lawfully, immigrants who remain in the country are either only allowed temporary residence or are screened by the government’s standards. Those who engage in fraudulent marriages bypass the system and could potentially have ill-intent or dangerous connections. Thus, a marriage fraud conviction carries severe penalties. Those found to have committed marriage fraud are prosecuted in Texas under 8 U.S. Code § 1325 and receive:
- Up to 5 years in prison
- Up to $250,000 in fines
Illegal aliens who commit marriage fraud are subject to immediate deportation, per 8 U.S. Code § 1227(a)(1)(G).
A conviction for marriage fraud could have devastating consequences for your future. If you are under suspicion or have been arrested for it, a marriage fraud lawyer serving Garland may be able to represent you in your case. We can help establish that a genuine marriage does exist and protect your rights.
Why Am I Under Suspicion Of Marriage Fraud?
Unless someone you know has provided a tip to ICE or the USCIS about your union or you were implicated in connection with another person or organization engaged in marriage fraud, it is possible that you and/or your spouse inadvertently implicated yourselves.
In applying for a visa or green card, you are generally required to do an interview. In the case of a visa application, you may have answered questions about your spouse and your relationship that did not supply satisfactory proof to the government that you are in a bonafide marriage.
Green Card Joint Interviews
If you applied for a green card, you and your spouse likely completed an interview together. However, the way you answered your joint questions could have raised suspicions. When the joint interview does not meet the USIC’s standards, they may require you and your spouse to interview separately. This interview, called the “Stokes” interview, is a divide and conquer technique where they ask you the same questions to compare your answers in search of inconsistencies. If you failed this interview, you likely did not receive approval for the green card and may have raised suspicions that sparked an investigation.
Information The Government Uses To Determine Fraudulent Marriages
You and your spouse may have raised concerns if you:
- Speak two different languages and are not able to adequately communicate
- Reside at different addresses
- Spend little time together at home or do not share a bed
- Have no shared assets (bank accounts, property, vehicle, etc.)
- Did not tell friends and family of the marriage
- Got married shortly after meeting or not long after one of you divorced
- Married soon after the federal government implemented deportation proceedings because you or your spouse remained in the U.S. without documentation.
- Have different religious beliefs
If you have not taken a Stokes interview, but the government has requested one, a lawyer can help you prepare. Additionally, we can prepare you for other appointments and interrogations with immigration investigators concerning your case.
How A Marriage Fraud Defense Lawyer Can Help You
A marriage fraud attorney can alleviate the anxiety and stress you and your spouse may be under during this uncertain time. Our law firm, led by former Texas prosecutor and state district Judge Randall B. Isenberg, is well-equipped to handle your case. With over 30 years of prosecuting and overseeing criminal proceedings, attorney Isenberg understands how to build a defense that mitigates the charges against you or reduces the penalties you face. Our goal is to preserve your freedom and minimize the disruption to your life.
Our marriage fraud lawyers also take on other tasks in your case, such as:
- For example, helping fill in the gaps in your explanations regarding your residence, language, intimacy, or other red flag discrepancies.
- Preparing for home inspections
- Retrieving and submitting supporting documentation proving a bonafide marriage exists
- Communicating with immigration and investigative agencies on your behalf
Get Help From A Garland Marriage Fraud Attorney Today
If you face marriage fraud accusations, the future may be uncertain, but our commitment to preserving your rights and freedom is not. Call the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg for a free consultation and let a Garland marriage fraud lawyer fight for you.