Immigration Marriage Fraud Penalties
Any marriage that takes place not because of a strong, loving relationship, but because one party needs the protection of becoming a U.S. citizen or green card holder is considered immigration marriage fraud. Immigration marriage fraud comes in a variety of shapes and sizes, from mail-order marriages to marriages in exchange for money, to marriages where one party convinces the other that it’s a legitimate relationship but is really only in it for immigration purposes.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security actively searches for evidence of fraudulent marriages. Although it may seem easy to lay low and not have your marriage questioned, this is not something authorities are allowing to slip through the cracks. Whether your neighbor sends in a tip or they find out another way, it is much more likely than you would expect to be arrested for this crime. In fact, Homeland Security Investigations launched Document and Benefit Fraud Task Forces in 2006 to more effectively investigate fraudulent marriages.
If you are found guilty of immigration marriage fraud, the punishment can be quite severe. Federal law dictates that those guilty can be sent to prison for up to five years and/or fined up to $250,000. Both the U.S. citizen and the immigrant can face these penalties. You could also be additionally charged and endure added punishments for the following related crimes:
- Making false statements
- Visa fraud
- Harboring an alien
Even if you get lucky and the authorities choose not to prosecute and apply these penalties, the outlook for the immigrant’s future in the United States is grim. You will be deported from the United States and permanently banned from returning. This will mean that even if you one day have a legitimate marriage to a U.S. citizen, or even won the visa lottery, you still would not be able to return.
The Experienced Immigration Attorneys at ZafiroLaw Can Help
This all sounds quite unoptimistic, and being in a fraudulent marriage is truly a serious legal issue, but if you’ve found yourself in this situation, you do have options.
If you are dealing with immigration issues, fraudulent marriage, or any other immigration or marriage issues, contact us today to schedule a consultation. You can reach our offices at (206) 547-9906.