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Immigration Marriage Fraud

Marriages of convenience between permanent U.S. residents and foreign nationals to obtain immigration benefits constitute immigration marriage fraud. Marriage fraud is a federal offence and invites severe punishment. Although the USCIS is very vigilant and tries to prevent fraudulent marriages from taking place, some cases manage to sneak into the country, at times the truth dawning very late on the victims. Many times individuals want to get married the right and legal way but may not understand the law. Often without meaning to, immigration marriage fraud is committed due to ignorance of the law, leading to legal issues and questions. Read below where marriage fraud questions have been answered by Experts.

What are the consequences if a person is found guilty of immigration marriage fraud?

Under the Immigration Marriage Fraud Amendments Act of 1986, a U.S. citizen that is convicted of immigration marriage fraud would have to pay a penalty of up to $250,000 and potentially serve a prison term for up to 5 years. A foreigner would be stripped of his/her residency and deported immediately.

Can a parent of an adult child report immigration marriage fraud if the parent feels that the spouse married for unjust illegal reasons after a affidavit of support was filed to obtain employment?.

Yes, in most situations any individual, including a parent, can report marriage fraud. Although if you do, there is a chance the Immigration Customs and Enforcement may suspect involvement in the fraud even though the adult child may not be involved knowingly in marriage fraud.

If a U.S. citizen is married to someone that has a conditional green card status, and they feel that they have been a victim of immigration marriage fraud can they cancel the petition and have their spouse deported even if they have children together?

Having children together is the one of the strongest evidences of a real marriage and since there are children in the marriage, this could weaken your case in showing marriage fraud. Since the petition for conditional green card has already been granted, there will be no way to revoke it. The law seeks to prevent U.S. citizens from dominating their non-citizen spouses, which is why the right of maintaining the conditional status rests solely on the spouse carrying the green card. Many times the non-citizen spouse can file for I-751 waiver (Petition to Remove Condition of Residence) and try to prove that the marriage was not solely for the purpose of obtaining an immigration benefit. In most situations at this point, the only way the non-citizen can be deported is if he/she is convicted of a serious crime, or if he/she stays outside the country for too long.

Would infidelity constitute marriage fraud, and if a non-citizen spouse residing on a green card leaves the country how long can they stay outside of the country before they lose their permanent resident status?

No, in most cases extramarital affairs by themselves do not constitute marriage fraud. However the non-citizen would be considered to have abandoned her/his permanent residency if she/he stays outside the country for 6 months to 1 year, during which she/he can still prove that abandoning of permanent resident status was not their intent. After 1 year though, this will be very difficult to prove.

Those charged and convicted of marriage fraud are subject to high penalties and severe punishment. It is advisable to be wary and avoid getting stuck in a fraudulent marriage unwittingly, and also be tactful and alert when other immigration marriage frauds come to one’s notice. Many times people are not legally prepared when facing situations such as these. However, when in doubt, it is recommended to ask an immigration law expert to evaluate your case particulars and provide legal insights.
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