Under United States immigration laws, there are an unlimited number of immigration visas available for spouses of United States citizens who are foreign nationals. There are also immigration visas available for spouses of lawful permanent residents. These visas are available to promote family unity, but the United States government wants to ensure they are not misused simply for purposes of someone coming to live in the United States. As a result, immigration marriage fraud is a serious crime.
A NY criminal defense lawyer can provide you with advice and guidance if you have been accused of a fraud marriage for green card. Bukh Law Firm, PLLC has provided legal representation to U.S. citizens and foreign nationals who have been accused of violating United States immigration laws and who are facing lengthy prison terms. We’ll be your advocate at every step of your case, fighting to protect your rights and your freedom.
Immigration marriage fraud occurs when any “individual… knowingly enters into a marriage for the purpose of evading any provision of the immigration laws.”
The U.S. Justice Department indicates that immigration marriage fraud typically involves a marriage between a U.S. citizen and an alien, who complete all state law requirements including obtaining a marriage license, medical testing and a marriage ceremony. The parties tell immigration and Nationalization Services (INS) that they are married. However, the parties do not intend to live together as man and wife or as married spouses (Since the Supreme Court’s recognition of gay marriage as a right, a marriage between a man and woman; between two women; or between two men may all result in an alien obtaining a spousal visa).
The Supreme Court has ruled in numerous cases, including Lutwak v. United States in 1953, that it is not relevant to a determination of fraud whether a marriage is valid as a result of the completion of state requirements for becoming legally wed. Unless the marriage takes place because the couple legitimately intends to live together as a family unit, it is a fraudulent marriage.
Courts have held in the past that as long as the marriage is initially valid, it is not a concern of INS if the marriage turns sour but the couple stays married long enough for the alien to become a permanent resident. However, in 1986, the Immigration Marriage Fraud Amendments codified in 8 U.S.C. Section 11862(a) were designed to end this loophole by establishing two-year conditional status for an alien spouse who is seeking to become a permanent U.S. resident.
Under the current rules, a couple must have a legitimate marriage and an actual family unit must remain in existence at the end of the two year period for the alien to lawfully be allowed to become a U.S. resident.
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8 U.S. Code Section 1325(c) imposes a penalty of up to five years imprisonment as well as a fine of $250,000 or more for any individual who knowingly enters into marriage in order to evade any provisions of U.S. immigration laws.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement warns that some U.S. citizens who participate in marriage fraud may “unknowingly be aiding terrorists, foreign intelligence or other criminal organizations and will be held accountable.” Other possible crimes a defendant can be charged with include, but are not limited to:
• Making false statements
Each charge has additional penalties, on top of those imposed by 18 U.S. Code Section 1325(c). A fake marriage for green card generally leads to federal, not state, charges, which means that time will be served in a federal prison if convicted.
Immigration fraud marriage consequences are serious and you need to explore all possible defenses available to you. A prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that your marriage was for the purposes of evading U.S. immigration laws. An experienced NY immigration marriage fraud defense lawyer can help you to try to demonstrate that your marriage was legitimate or to undermine the prosecutor’s case that it was a sham marriage.
You may also be able to negotiate a plea deal, which could involve a reduced criminal sentence. You should speak with an attorney as soon as possible so your lawyer can deal with the federal prosecutor assigned to your case and so your attorney can help you to develop a strategic response to criminal charges.
Bukh Law Firm, PLLC provides legal guidance to U.S. citizens and to aliens who have been accused of violating immigration laws. We provide representation in state and federal court and our legal team has the experience you need to respond aggressively to serious charges. Call us today to learn how we can help.