U.S. immigration law requires marriages between citizens and foreigners to be scrutinized. If you are applying for a green card based on marriage to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, you will be subject to an interview by a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officer. Unfortunately, applications can be denied, even with adequate preparation, sometimes due to suspicion that you have entered a “sham marriage.”
The penalties and consequences can be severe if you’re being investigated or have been charged with marriage fraud. Please don’t wait to obtain legal help. A Mesquite marriage fraud lawyer at the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg can help if your green card application was denied or you are facing allegations or charges related to marriage fraud.
What Is Marriage Fraud?
Any non-citizen of the United States who enters a marital relationship with a U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) for the primary purpose of obtaining a green card and evading immigration law is considered to have committed marriage fraud and may be subject to various legal consequences.
Under the Immigration Marriage Fraud Amendments of 1986, a two-year conditional permanent resident status is required for non-citizen spouses and their children who “become permanent residents through marriage or as immediate relatives.”
Marriage fraud is grounds for deportation under the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 USC §1227). Non-citizens may be subject to deportation if, within two years, it is determined that their marriage:
- Was entered to circumvent immigration laws
- Was judicially annulled or terminated
- Was secured by the payment of a fee or other consideration
Potential Penalties And Consequences Of Marriage Fraud In Mesquite
Any non-citizen of the U.S. who has fraud or misrepresentation on their record will be ineligible for admission into the country under I.N.A. § 212(a)(6)(C)(i) and cannot legally obtain a U.S. visa or green card.
Criminal penalties you may face for committing marital fraud include jail time and fines. According to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a marriage fraud conviction carries a sentence of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
Other consequences of engaging in marriage fraud include those related to personal risks. For example, if you enter into an invalid marital relationship with a spouse you don’t know and allow them to gain bank account access, you could become an identity theft victim.
Or, if you help an alien enter the country without a legitimate reason, they could threaten U.S. national security. Moreover, regarding marriage fraud, ICE reports that it has uncovered many “massive schemes” involving “complex criminal organizations.” This offense can, in such cases, lead to much more severe charges.
Establishing A Valid Marriage In Mesquite
A bona fide marriage is one in which the two individuals intend, from the beginning, in good faith, to establish a life together as spouses. In addition, the marriage must be romantically based and ongoing to pass USCIS inspection.
Proving this may seem challenging, but with guidance from a Mesquite marriage fraud attorney, you can collect evidence to demonstrate your marriage is authentic.
There are two approaches that the USCIS uses to determine if a marriage is genuine: documentation and an in-person interview in which A USCIS official will question you and your spouse together and separately.
As expected, the required documentation will include your marriage certificate. However, you will probably also be asked to provide additional pieces of evidence to prove your marriage is legitimate.
For example, you might be asked for proof of combined bank accounts or utility bills showing you and your spouse reside at the same address. In addition, they might want to see photos of the two of you engaging in family activities, thereby demonstrating that you are genuinely an established romantic couple.
The USCIS Interview
During the USCIS interview, which can take several hours, you and your spouse will be subjected to personal questions that may feel intrusive, as they are intended to reveal the true nature of your marriage. Your interviews will be recorded and compared for disparities, which you may be allowed to explain should any occur. You are strongly urged to answer these questions truthfully and avoid engaging in behaviors that might be considered suspicious.
If you have not yet undergone the USCIS investigation, our Mesquite marriage fraud attorneys can assist by preparing you for your interview and organizing the documentation needed to establish that your marriage is legitimate and founded on love.
Appealing An Application Denial Based On Marriage Fraud In Mesquite
Sometimes, spouses don’t have adequate documentation to prove their marriage is valid, and the spouse’s application is denied. But unfortunately, even if you supply the agency with sufficient evidence, your application can still be rejected if a USCIS official doesn’t believe your story, and they can report suspected marriage as the basis for the decision.
If USCIS wrongfully denied your application, the good news is you have the right to file an appeal. An official finding of marital fraud could bar you from receiving other immigration benefits, so if you believe the denial is unjust, it is in your best interests to appeal.
Applicants must file an appeal within 30 days of receiving their petition denial notice at the local USCIS office that handled their case. If you miss this deadline, the USCIS’s decision regarding the marriage’s illegitimacy will become definitive.
We encourage anyone who has had their green card petition denied to retain a Mesquite marriage fraud lawyer who can defend them against criminal allegations and guide them through the appeals process to improve their chances of having the USCIS decision reversed.
Get Help From A Mesquite Marriage Fraud Lawyer Today
Please contact the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg to schedule a confidential case review. We can help if you were denied a green card because you failed to prove your marriage is legitimate or have been investigated or criminally charged with marriage fraud or other offenses.