Did you know that there are severe penalties for being caught engaging in marriage fraud?
What is marriage fraud or a sham marriage? A sham marriage is not valid for immigration purposes. A sham marriage is where the couple gets married solely for the purposes of circumventing immigration laws. Normally, the parties to a sham marriage have no intention of having a bona fide marriage and living together as a real marriage couple. The only purpose of getting married is to try and get around the immigration laws.
The penalties for marriage fraud are quite steep. The maximum penalty is 5 years imprisonment and up to $250,000 penalty. These days, we are seeing more enforcement activity and prosecution for marriage fraud. In the past, although the laws have existed, the was not much reported enforcement activity. The downside to entering into fake marriage is getting very high.
People may think that they can get around the requirement and fool the USCIS. However, with the increasing sophistication of technology, it is getting easier and easier for the USCIS to detect marriage fraud. They can use simple review of DMV records to assess addresses. There are so many databases of public record to ascertain where people live, where they work. They can do field investigation and visit the place of residence and question the neighbors or property manager. They can check Internal Revenue Service tax records to see if joint taxes were filed, etc. Of course, they can also ascertain irregularities or things of suspicious nature in the marriage from the joint interview.
Another thing to remember is that an alien found to have engaged in marriage fraud is permanently inadmissible. That means that even if the alien later on finds true love with a US citizen, she/he will not be eligible for the green-card and no waivers are available.
The bottom line – the penalties and downside of marriage fraud are very steep. Enforcement and prosecution are on the rise so the message the USCIS is trying to send out is don’t do it because the risks are not worth it!
For more information contact
Victoria J. Suh, Esq.*
Tsoi & Associates, Lawyers
3580 Wilshire Bl Ste 720 L A, CA 90010
Tel 213-387-2888 *Fax 213-387-2882