United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is required to investigate all marriages involving a foreign national and a U.S. citizen. Likewise, if you are already married and applying for permanent residence (a green card), a USCIS official may ask to interview you. If you and your spouse are suspected of committing marriage fraud, your green card application may be denied.
Being found guilty of marriage fraud comes with steep penalties and fines, so we encourage you to retain legal help as soon as possible. A Sachse marriage fraud lawyer at the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg can help you gather and present evidence to defend yourself against these charges.
What Is Marriage Fraud?
The Immigration Marriage Fraud Amendments of 1986 grant a two-year conditional permanent resident status for alien spouses and children who marry or are an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR). Because of this, some individuals get married to gain this benefit with no intent to stay married or foster a genuine marital relationship.
A fraudulent or “sham” marriage occurs when a foreign, non-citizen individual marries a citizen or LPR with the sole intent of circumventing immigration law and obtaining a green card. The Immigration and Nationality Act (8 USC §1227) states that non-citizen individuals can be charged with marriage fraud and possibly deported if, during the two-year conditional period, immigration officials determine:
- One or both spouses arranged the marriage explicitly to bypass immigration law.
- One spouse paid money to or performed a favor for the other spouse in exchange for marrying them.
- The marriage was terminated or annulled.
Legal Consequences Of Marriage Fraud In Sachse
In addition to potential deportation, U.S. citizens and non-citizen foreign nationals convicted of marriage fraud could face criminal penalties of up to five years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Additionally, ICE states that individuals involved in marriage fraud could face charges of visa fraud, conspiracy, and harboring an illegal alien. These other charges also carry possible jail or prison time and fines.
Finally, under I.N.A. § 212(a)(6)(C)(i), a conviction of marriage fraud or misrepresentation of facts will make a non-citizen ineligible to enter the country, and they will be barred from acquiring a green card or U.S. visa.
What Is A Legitimate Marriage?
A legitimate marriage requires that the two individuals intend to establish a life together as partners. The USCIS will conduct an interview and judge whether they believe your marriage is authentic. Convincing the USCIS of the legitimacy of your marriage can be challenging, so you may want to seek help from a Sachse marriage fraud lawyer.
Genuine marital relationships share essential elements that your Sachse marriage fraud attorney can use as evidence in your defense. However, no two marriages are the same, and the USCIS does not maintain a complete definition of what an authentic marriage must be.
Factors that commonly signal a bona fide marriage include those that assume the couple:
- Lives together
- Speaks the same language
- Has the same or similar religious and moral beliefs
- Engages in romantic and sexual activities
- Has or wants children
- Has friends in common
- Enjoys hobbies together
- Shares bank accounts
- Jointly receives loans, such as a mortgage
How Does USCIS Detect Marriage Fraud?
When you apply for a green card, USCIS uses two sources of information to determine if a marriage is genuine or fraudulent: documentation and a personal interview.
First, USCIS will require you and your spouse to provide a marriage certificate. Along with this, they may ask you to submit additional evidence, such as:
- Bank account statements to determine if you and your spouse share an account
- Income statements that demonstrate consistent employment and work history in the U.S.
- Utility bills that show you have a permanent residence and reside together therein
- Photographs as evidence of spending time together, loving one another, and engaging in family activities
- Affidavits of support, or letters from your friends and family that testify to your relationship’s authenticity
These documents can help prove to USCIS that your marriage is not a sham and is, indeed, authentic.
The Personal Interview
A USCIS interview can take several hours, during which you and your spouse, both together and separately, will be asked many personal and intrusive questions regarding your married life. Officials at the USCIS will already have read your documentation and will use your answers to uncover inconsistencies or incorrect information. Any suspicious findings may be grounds for charging you with marriage fraud.
If you need help before your USCIS interview, the Sachse marriage fraud lawyers at the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg can help you gather the necessary documentation and prepare you for questioning.
A Marriage Fraud Lawyer Can Help You Appeal A Green Card Application Denial
Even if you and your spouse intend to enter a genuine marital relationship, you may not have the required documentation to show your marriage isn’t a sham. Likewise, USCIS could make a mistake and determine your marriage to be fraudulent when it is not. Fortunately, in either case, you have the right to appeal their determination.
According to ICE, the deadline for filing an appeal at your local USCIS office is 30 days after you first receive your denial paperwork. If you miss the deadline, the USCIS’s decision will become final.
A conviction of marriage fraud is costly and will deprive you and your spouse of immigration benefits. To prevent this, we urge you to hire a Sachse marriage fraud lawyer to help you with the appeals process.
Start Working With A Sachse Marriage Fraud Lawyer Today
If you were denied a green card and are being charged with marriage fraud or other immigration-related crimes, please call the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg to schedule a confidential, no-obligation case review. We can tell you more about how a Sachse marriage fraud attorney can begin helping you today.