This is a tricky area. A marriage fraud finding can bar you to any future immigration benefit. Get the right help. Call us.
What is Marriage Fraud?
USCIS, the Department of State, and even Immigration Judges in removal proceedings take marriage fraud very seriously. If you’re in deportation proceedings and you enter into a marriage to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, you have to establish by clear and convincing evidence that the marriage was entered into in good faith, not for purposes of saving your green card or providing you a way to stay in the United States legally. A person in removal proceedings gets married at that point is not even allowed to file for green card until the court is convinced that the marriage is real and approves the marriage- based Immigrant Visa.
The government is so worried about marriage fraud that even if you received your green card through marriage, you can’t turn around and sponsor a new spouse for a green card for five years from the date that you obtained your green card unless, again, you can establish by clear and convincing evidence that your first marriage either ended because your spouse died or it was entered into in good faith – not for the purpose of obtaining a green card for you. During green card interviews, U.S. CIS is going to concentrate on whether the marriage was consummated, you two are living together, and whether you intended to establish a life together, among other factors, to flesh out whether your marriage is real – i.e., not entered into for immigration purposes. This questioning can lead to separation of the couple at the green card interview stage at the local U.S. CIS office if the government believes that the marriage is short, the couple appears on her fidgety or they find some inconsistency in the couple’s statements.
Even after you obtain your green card, the marriage is presumed to be fraudulent if the marriage is annulled or you get a divorce within two years after you get your green card. This puts a heavy burden on those with conditional residency who have to show that they married their partner in good faith but the marriage fell apart during the conditional period and not due to their fault. Even the concept of conditional residency – green cards only issued for two years as opposed to permanent cards, was created out of Congress’s fear that short-term marriages were just being entered into for the sake of obtaining a green card. If the immigrant and spouse don’t remove the condition two years after the green card is granted by showing that they are still living together in a bona fide marriage, then the immigrant risks losing their green card status.
Why Should I Be Worried If The Government Thinks My Marriage is Fraudulent?
If CIS denies the immigrant visa because it believes your marriage is a sham, the immigrant will likely be placed in removal proceedings and both the immigrant and the U.S. citizen petitioner can be charged with criminal marriage fraud, which has a large fine and potential jail time attached. Further, if a formal finding of marriage fraud under INA 204C is made (which only requires an attempt, whether successful or not, to enter into a conspiracy to commit marriage fraud), this will also bar the immigrant from being able to receive an approved immigrant visa in the future. But even where there is no 204C finding in one immigrant visa petition, any smell of a potentially sham marriage from that petition will haunt an immigrant in any subsequent visa petition ever filed. This becomes important to really document the bona fide and true nature of the first marriage.
Since the consequences are so severe if there is a finding or potential finding of marriage fraud by the government, it is always in your best interest to consult an experienced immigration attorney to help you fight such a determination before it becomes too late. The passage of time does not make marriage fraud any less severe to your immigration options. It stays with you. It is also crucial to involve an experienced immigration attorney to prepare you for and attend your green card interview – otherwise, it’s your word against the government. If there is any hint of a marriage fraud investigation, don’t go in there alone. Let us help.