If immigration officials suspect you of marriage fraud or you have been charged with a related crime, you likely need legal help. If you are still considering entering a fraudulent marriage, understand that this is a federal crime and can result in devastating consequences for you and your spouse, including criminal action.
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) takes marriage fraud allegations seriously and will not wait long to address them. For this reason, please contact the Lancaster marriage fraud lawyers at the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg if you have questions or issues involving immigration law or marriage fraud.
What Is A Valid Marriage?
Being suspected of a fraudulent marriage, also known as a “sham” or “green card” marriage, implies you have entered into a marital relationship with an individual with whom you do not intend to have a loving partnership. This is a violation of U.S. immigration law. However, individuals who enter a marriage solely for immigration reasons may believe it is justifiable due to their desire to live in the country.
That said, when immigration officials discover potential immigrants or lawful residents as being untruthful about their marriage’s validity, they may have an uphill battle ahead of them regarding criminal justice and securing immigration benefits.
In many instances, immigration-related marriages are legitimate. Unfortunately, the USCIS does not provide absolute guidelines for what a “real” marriage requires. However, to demonstrate a marital relationship is bona fide under immigration laws, officials will look for specific evidence of its likely legitimacy, such as the following:
- There was an actual marriage ceremony, ideally complete with photos or video
- Spouses received a government-sanctioned marriage certificate
- Spouses are living together in a loving marital relationship, beginning promptly after the wedding
- Spouses share similar religious or spiritual beliefs
- Spouses have children together
- Spouses spend quality family time together, such as in-law gatherings and vacations.
USCIS Requirements: Documentation And Interview Evidence
USCIS makes it a priority to identify fraudulent marriages commenced only for immigration purposes. Therefore, an official will likely question your marital intentions at your adjustment of status interview, even if they assume it is valid beforehand.
Unfortunately, regardless of whether your marriage is indeed bona fide or not, you will be required to provide evidence. This could include documentation gathered from family members, extensive personal interviews with a USCIS official, a two-year waiting period, and more.
Fortunately, the USCIS is unlikely to monitor your marital life closely. However, you might receive a “bed check” visit by investigators. Aside from this possibility, immigration officials must rely on your marriage’s documentation and the evidence you provide, in addition to personal interviews. The investigators could also interview your family, friends, neighbors, or employer concerning your relationship status.
USCIS interviews can feel intimidating and invasive. Spouses are often questioned together and separately, and their answers will be compared for disparities. If an official suspects for any reason that their answers are untruthful or evasive, this can mean big trouble for both spouses and their families.
Legal Penalties For Marriage Fraud In Lancaster
If you are found guilty of marital fraud, you can be sentenced to up to five years in jail and face fines of up to $250,000. In addition, you will most likely lose all immigration-related benefits regardless of whether you are the sponsored spouse pursuing a green card or a U.S. citizen.
You could be charged with visa fraud, harboring an illegal immigrant, and more. These charges may come with the prospect of spending several years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines.
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What If I Am A Victim Of Marriage Fraud?
Unfortunately, a relatively small number of foreign nationals marry lawful permanent residents or U.S. citizens to obtain a green card. Fortunately, if you believe you may be a victim, our Lancaster marriage fraud attorneys may be able to help you. Moreover, it is essential to take action to notify the appropriate federal authorities that you were not a willing participant.
Marriage fraud is a serious federal crime, and there are severe penalties for engaging in this activity. Therefore, if you believe that you were a victim of marriage fraud, answering the following questions can help determine if you could be a marriage fraud victim:
- Did your spouse radically change for the worse after the Adjustment of Status or Green Card interview? In other words, were there adverse effects on their personality or your relationship?
- Did you suspect or confirm that your spouse was unfaithful or engaged in romantic relationships with others during your marriage?
- Did your spouse move out of your shared residence after the interview?
- Is your spouse still communicating with their prior spouse for reasons other than childrearing?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might need an immigration lawyer to examine your circumstances further and suggest legal action. Our office might be able to help you file for divorce and clear your name by notifying the appropriate government authorities or federal criminal prosecutors.
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Besides Marriage Fraud, What Else Constitutes Immigration Fraud?
Immigration fraud is a crime comprised of multiple other unlawful acts. Fraudulent acts could include:
- Giving legal advice to immigrants when you are unqualified
- Impersonating a USCIS agent, a notary, or an attorney
- Running a visa lottery
- Charging money for immigration benefits
- Fabricating false immigration documents
- Assisting in other acts of immigration fraud
Fabricating documents is punishable by prison time and steep fines. Moreover, producing false visas or passports can add a visa or passport fraud charge on top of immigration fraud.
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Consult With A Lancaster Marriage Fraud Attorney About Your Concerns Today
If you are considering sponsoring your non-citizen spouse or have been accused by the USCIS of marriage fraud, please contact a Lancaster marriage fraud lawyer at the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg. We can help prove your marriage is valid and explain your legal rights and options.