This blog explores marriage fraud in the immigration context. There are many instances in U.S. immigration law where individuals attempt to gain an immigration benefit by representing that they are in a valid relationship with a U.S. citizenor green card holder. Sometimes, a couple may marry with the knowledge that their union is for the purposes of the foreign spouse receiving an immigration benefit and nothing more. This is marriage fraud.
What Instances of Marriage Fraud are the Most Common?
Marriage fraud may come in several forms. According to the Department of Homeland Security, the most common forms of marriage fraud exist in the following scenarios:
- A U.S. citizen is paid, or asked to perform a favor, to marry a foreign national already residing in the United States;
- “Mail-order” marriage where either the U.S. citizen or alien knows it is a fraud; or
- A foreign national defrauds a U.S. citizen who believes the marriage is legitimate.
Marriage Fraud is a Punishable Offense
If an individual is found to have committed marriage fraud for the purposes of evading U.S. immigration law, it is considered to be a felony offense, which is punishable by a prison sentence of up to five years and fines which could go to a maximum of $250,000.
What if You Didn’t Commit Marriage Fraud but Your Application is Being Questioned?
There are instances where a legitimately married couple’s marriage is scrutinized further by the government. If the couple is in the process of a family-based petition, they may be called in for a second interview, known as a “Stokes Interview,” or more commonly referred to as a marriage fraud interview. If you have been scheduled for a second interview during the process, it is important to consult with an immigration lawyer to receive instructions on how to prepare for the interview.
Consider scheduling a consultation with an immigration lawyer at Gilles Law, PLLC. You can reach us at 980-272-8438 at our office in Uptown Charlotte. We are here to assist with your inquiries.
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