Immigrating to the United States can be a very lengthy process for many who wait years for the privilege of obtaining permanent residence. For immediate relatives (spouses, parents and children of U.S. citizens) there is no wait for a visa, so the only time involved is in the administrative processing of the petition and applications. In addition, for those applying in the USA, previous periods of unlawful presence and working without authorization are forgiven. As a result some people knowingly engage in marriage fraud by entering into a sham marriage for the sole purpose of obtaining permanent residence in the United States.
For some, the temptation is just too great and they marry a U.S. citizen for the sole reason of getting a green card. Some people are really desperate. They may have tried other legal ways to obtain a green card, but they have failed or the wait has been too long. Other people follow bad advice.
While some people get away with it, many will get caught. For those who get caught engaging in marriage fraud the penalty is harsh. It is tantamount to banishment because the finding alone that one has attempted or actually entered into a marriage to evade the immigration laws under section 204 (c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, means that no other petition may ever be approved.
In other words, if you were found to have entered into a fraudulent marriage, yet later your United States citizen child turns 21, or the visa from your employer’s petition for you becomes current, it will be for naught. NO OTHER PETITION WILL BE APPROVED. This is the punishment and there is NO WAIVER.
You can try to challenge the marriage fraud in a subsequent filing. Some people do marry in part for the green card, and that is not necessarily marriage fraud. Be careful who you hire to help you fill out forms! For one, a non- lawyer cannot give legal advice and also because USCIS maintains a list of paralegal services, forms preparers, notarios and accountants who are suspected of fraud. If one of those people completes your immigration forms, you will be scrutinized for fraud- guilty by association- even if the marriage is real.
You may have certain forms of relief from removal if you are in deportation proceedings and the government has the burden of proof to show conclusively that you entered into a fraudulent marriage. However, the immigration officer will probably have made you (and your spouse) sign something whereby you admit the marriage was a sham. If it wasn’t a sham marriage, don’t say or sign anything to that effect- no matter what is threatened.
Contact Board Certified Immigrations Attorney Suzanne E. Vazquez and Maud Poudat in Orlando, Florida if you or someone you care about is facing or may be facing charges of marriage fraud under the U.S. immigration laws. Suzanne has experience handling marriage fraud cases and other complicated immigration matters.
Please call us during office hours at (407) 674-6968. We are also available for emergencies after office hours at (407) 925-2554. You may also send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get back with you right away.