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The Risks of Using Marriage Fraud to Obtain a Green Card

Posted on in Green Cards

New Canaan immigration green card lawyerIf you are considering marriage as a way to obtain permanent resident status in the U.S., also known as getting a green card, you must be very careful to avoid being accused of fraud. Applications for marriage-based visas, which permit the immigration of fiancés and spouses of U.S. citizens, are closely examined by U.S. immigration officials because of the relatively high incidence of fraud. You would be wise to consult an experienced immigration attorney to ensure that you do not make any mistakes in the application process.

Avoiding Marriage Fraud

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has been involved in the investigation and prosecution of numerous marriage fraud schemes in the past few years. It is instructional to review a few of these cases to understand what was done wrong:

In 2017, eleven people were found guilty of immigration-related marriage fraud in two separate but related schemes in Texas. They had been paying U.S. citizens to enter into fraudulent marriages with Nigerians who had entered the United States on tourist visas and then preparing fraudulent applications for the Nigerians to obtain permanent resident status. One of the ringleaders, an American citizen, was sentenced to two years in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised parole. Other defendants were sentenced to 12 to 18 months in prison or a term of probation. Several of the defendants are not U.S. citizens and will face deportation proceedings upon their release from custody.

In 2018, five individuals in Connecticut were charged with making false statements for the purpose of obtaining immigration benefits, which is punishable by up to five years in federal prison. Four people were accused of entering into multiple marriages with non-citizens and sponsoring them for green cards. The fifth person was charged with leading a conspiracy to arrange fraudulent marriages for non-citizens. This person offered to arrange a sham marriage for a non-citizen for a fee of $20,000, not realizing that he was actually speaking to an undercover federal agent.

In another 2018 case, a Jamaican man living in Florida was convicted of procuring citizenship unlawfully. He was sentenced to six months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, and the court revoked his U.S. citizenship. His story spans more than a decade. In 2007, he paid an American citizen to marry him so he could obtain U.S. residency. In 2013, he became a U.S. citizen. Two months after obtaining a U.S. passport, he filed for divorce from the U.S. citizen and married a Jamaican national who was the mother of his child. He then sponsored his Jamaican wife for a green card. During a review of the Jamaican wife’s application for permanent residency, a USCIS officer noticed several discrepancies in the paperwork, including the fact that the Jamaican man never disclosed the existence of his child in his own applications for immigration and naturalization. 

These are just a few of the cases in which people who committed marriage fraud were caught and prosecuted. There are many other examples, and the risk of spending time in federal prison or being deported is not worth it.  

Work With a Fairfield County, CT Immigration Lawyer

If you are an American citizen with a foreign-national spouse or fiancé, you must take particular care in the immigration process to avoid being accused of marriage fraud. To learn about your options for obtaining a visa and green card, talk to an experienced Stamford immigration attorney. Gonzalez Law Office, LLC has been helping families with immigration and naturalization applications for over 15 years. Call us at 203-323-1440.

Sources:

https://www.uscis.gov/news/news-releases/five-individuals-charged-connection-marriage-fraud-scheme

https://www.uscis.gov/news/news-releases/uscis-investigation-results-two-year-conviction-marriage-fraud-ring

https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdtx/pr/marriage-fraud-scheme-lands-final-defendant-federal-prison

Fairfield County Bar Association Connecticut Bar Association American Immigration Lawyers Association Connecticut American Immigration Lawyers Association
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