Immigrating to the United States and gaining residency can be a very lengthy process. As a result some people may knowingly engage in marriage fraud. Immigration marriage fraud is a violation where a person takes part in a fake or fraudulent marriage in order to deceive immigration officials and obtain permanent residence in the United States. Some people may find themselves extremely desperate for a green card and have tried other ways to obtain one, but have failed to get it or the wait for one was too long for them. Other people commit immigration fraud simply because they have followed poor advice from an acquaintance. Some examples of immigration marriage fraud include: – Falsifying marriage documents – Deceiving immigration officials – Setting up a fake living arrangement to meet immigration marriage requirements The Immigration Marriage Fraud Amendments of 1986 are a set of laws that were passed in order to confront immigration marriage fraud problems. There are two goals of the laws: 1. To promote family unity 2. To discourage immigration-based marriage fraud The IMFA seeks to accomplish both of these goals by classifying aliens whose immigration status is based on marriage as “conditional” immigrants. Upon entering the U.S., they are grated conditional resident status and must apply later to have the status removed. In order to have their conditional status removed, they must prove that their relationship to their citizen spouse is valid by presenting various documents and evidence relevant to the case. Immigration marriage fraud is illegal and can result in various legal penalties. The law states as follows: Any individual who knowingly enters into a marriage for the purpose of evading any provision of the immigration laws shall be imprisoned for not more than 5 years, or fined not more than $250,000, or both (I.N.A. § 275(c); 8 U.S.C. § 1325(c). Both the U.S. citizen and the resident spouse could also face criminal prosecution, fines and/or imprisonment on charges of criminal conspiracy or, given supporting facts, for “establishing a commercial enterprise” to help people obtain green cards. The United States reserves the highest penalties for U.S. citizens or residents that engage in major conspiracy operations, and marriage fraud is included in this. If the immigrant is not prosecuted criminally, they will be deported from and banned from ever returning to the U.S., even if they later marry a U.S. citizen. Other penalties for immigration marriage fraud include: – denial of fiancé visa applications or applications for change of conditional status – negative effects on obtaining citizenship in the future If an immigration-based marital relationship is legitimate, it should not present any legal issues. If you are facing any legal issues regarding immigration, consult with an experienced immigration law attorney at Maria Jones Law Firm for more help and information. Image via: