More than 150 million adults worldwide want to immigrate to the United States according to a recent Gallup Poll. Immigration to the U.S., however, is tightly controlled with a limited number of people allowed to obtain most types of visas each year. Some individuals throughout the world try to circumvent U.S. immigration laws through fraud, which can result in criminal charges. In other situations, individuals offer services to help people immigrate, sometimes with exaggerated or untrue claims about the benefits that may be provided.
The United States government takes all fraud in connection to immigration seriously. Whether you are accused of dishonest behavior in trying to enter or remain in the United States, or whether you are accused of dishonest behavior in offering services or assistance to immigrants, you could face misdemeanor or felony charges. Most immigration fraud crimes are prosecuted on the federal level, although NY fraud laws may also apply to certain acts.
A NY criminal defense lawyer at Bukh Law Firm, PLLC can provide legal assistance to defendants accused of any type of fraud crimes in connection with immigration. Whether you are a U.S. citizen or a foreign national at risk of being deported, give us a call today so we can provide assistance in fighting for a secure future free of serious criminal penalties.
What is Immigration Fraud?
According to the New York Attorney General: “Immigration fraud is generally defined as individuals and companies who target vulnerable immigrants by providing unauthorized and fraudulent immigration services.” This type of fraudulent behavior can include:
• Immigration Services Scams: Charging money to provide assistance with immigration forms, or to provide other services to immigrants, and not providing qualified assistance.
• Visa Lottery Scams: Charging money to help someone enter the visa lottery or promising to improve someone’s chances at getting a visa through the lottery may both be forms of immigration fraud.
• Immigration Lawyer Fraud: It is illegal to represent oneself as an immigration lawyer if the individual is not an attorney. It is also illegal to practice law without a license.
• Notario Fraud: Representing oneself as qualified to offer services or legal advice to immigrants despite not having appropriate qualifications.
Fraud may also occur in connection with the documents an individual uses to immigrate, or with the means an individual uses in order to obtain permission to enter the country as an immigrant.
These types of fraudulent behaviors include:
• Marriage fraud immigration: Parties enter into a marriage for purposes of facilitating immigration when that marriage is not based on a legitimate romantic relationship.
• Immigration fraud through documents: fraud in connection with a green card, visa, permit, or other document.
Both immigrants and non-immigrants may be charged and may face the potential for imprisonment in state or federal prison. A history of conviction for immigration fraud could affect future attempts to legally visit the United States or to become a permanent resident or citizen. Arkady Bukh has a long track record of representing clients accused of serious federal and state crimes in NYC TOP RATED ON: SUPER LAWYERS, AVVO, NATIONAL TRIAL LAWYERS
Top Rated Criminal Lawyer
Arkady Bukh has a long track record of representing clients accused of serious federal and state crimes in NYC
TOP RATED ON: SUPER LAWYERS, AVVO, NATIONAL TRIAL LAWYERS
Penalties for Immigration Fraud
Penalties for immigration fraud vary based on the type of criminal act that a defendant has been accused of committing and depending upon whether a defendant is accused of committing a state or federal offense. There are a long list of criminal charges that could result from accusations of involvement with immigration fraud, including but not limited to:
• Forging, counterfeiting, altering, or falsely making visas or other immigration documents, or knowingly receiving fraudulent documents and using them to enter the U.S. or to prove lawful status in the U.S. Under 18 U.S. Code Section 1546, a defendant charged with this offense could face a maximum of 25 years imprisonment if the offense was intended to facilitate terrorism, or 20 years imprisonment if the offense was to facilitate drug trafficking. If the offense is a first or second offense and not intended to facilitate a crime, the maximum penalty is 10 years imprisonment. In other cases, the maximum penalty is 15 years of prison time.
• Using a document such as a visa that you know was not issued lawfully is also a crime under 18 U.S. Code Section 1546, which could result in a maximum of five years imprisonment.
• Marriage fraud, which can result in a maximum prison term of five years and a maximum fine of $250,000 under 8 U.S. Code Section 1325(c).
• Failure to comply with guidelines for offering immigrant assistance services, as established under NY General Business Law Article 28-C. Guidelines require the provision of certain disclosures and disclaimers, and mandate a cancellation period after a contract for services is signed. Failure to provide appropriate notice in advertisements and required disclosures in contracts is a Class A misdemeanor under state law.
Any defendant accused of violating state or federal laws deserves to be informed of the charges against him. An experienced NY immigration fraud lawyer can provide comprehensive advice on the possible consequences of charges and can help you to determine how best to respond in an effort to minimize or avoid the consequences associated with conviction of fraud crimes.
Defenses to Immigration Fraud
A variety of different defenses exist depending upon the type of immigration fraud crimes a defendant has been charged with. Unless a prosecutor can prove beyond a reasonable doubt all elements of the fraud crime, there
should be no conviction. Due process requirements do apply to immigrants and have since an 1886 case called Yick Wo v. Hopkins, in which the Court ruled that the 14th Amendment applies to all persons without regard to whether they are legal citizens or undocumented immigrants. Other Constitutional protections apply to undocumented immigrants as well, including the Fifth and Sixth Amendments. In 1896 in Yick Wo v. Hopkins, the court ruled that: “all persons within the territory of the United States are entitled to the protection guaranteed by those amendments, and that even aliens shall not be held to answer for a capital or other infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.”
The protections inherent in the criminal justice system are very important because they give you the chance to raise defenses and to avoid conviction if you can make a good case. A NY immigration fraud lawyer at Bukh Law Firm, PLLC can help you to ensure you exercise your rights and that you get a vigorous strong defense to charges.
How a NY Immigration Fraud Lawyer Can Help
Bukh Law Firm, PLLC has represented undocumented immigrants accused of green card fraud and other crimes, as well as provided representation to U.S. citizens accused of committing immigration marriage fraud, immigration lawyer fraud, and related offenses.
Call today to schedule a consultation and learn more about the legal services we can offer as you face serious charges.