Marriage fraud is not the answer
Q: I have heard that some people who are undocumented receive legal permanent residence based on a marriage to a US citizen that isn’t really genuine, and that there is a good chance that the US immigration authorities will not catch on. Is this true?

A: Anyone considering a green card application based on a fraudulent marriage needs to think again. This is a serious federal offense, and it is vigorously prosecuted by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the US Department of Justice.

ICE regularly announces, as part of its enforcement efforts such as “Operation Honeymoon’s Over” and “Operation Knot So Fast,” the arrest and federal prosecution of people for committing marriage fraud and related offenses. Generally this involves schemes whereby the conspirators collect substantial fees to arrange sham marriages between US citizens and undocumented immigrants and file fraudulent applications for legal permanent residence. But it also would cover a situation where a US citizen agrees to marry an undocumented person and file a fraudulent application, just as a “favor.” These offenses carry stiff penalties: up to five years imprisonment for each charge, plus a fine of up to $250,000. In addition, the undocumented immigrants involved face removal from the US.

When an immigrant applies to adjust status to that of permanent resident based on marriage to a US citizen, the couple is interviewed by an experienced US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officer before a decision is made. At these interviews, the officer asks questions designed to elicit information about whether the marriage is genuine. The couple also must present extensive documentation of the marriage relationship – birth certificates of any children born to the marriage, joint financial information such as tax returns, leases, and bank accounts, photos, and the like. An applicant does not stand a good chance of surviving this level of scrutiny if the marriage is a sham.
Applicants with a genuine marriage, on the other hand, have nothing to fear from USCIS in the interview, which will be quite brief and conducted in a respectful, professional manner. In fact, we at IIIC meet with couples prior to the interview to discuss the process and ensure that their documentation is adequate. They go to their interviews fully prepared and accompanied by a member of our legal staff.

For a free, confidential consultation about marriage-based adjustment of status or any other aspect of immigration law, visit one of our legal clinics advertised in The Emigrant.

Disclaimer: These articles are published to inform generally, not to advise in specific cases. Areas of law are rapidly changing. US Citizenship and Immigration Services and the US Department of State regularly amend regulations and alter processing and filing procedures. For legal advice seek the assistance of an IIIC immigration specialist or an immigration lawyer.

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