Avoiding False Accusations of Marriage Fraud - How to Prove a Good Faith Marriage
If you want to get a green card and are married to a U.S. citizen, there’s some good news -- you can obtain permanent resident status through a marriage-based green card! Unfortunately, marriage fraud is a very real thing and the consequences are severe. Immigration takes marriage fraud very seriously, investigating and bringing accusations against applicants that have engaged in such. Also, marriage fraud carries severe penalties to those who have involved themselves in such a situation, including criminal and other penalties.
What if you have a legitimate marriage but get accused of fraud? As long as your marriage was truly in good faith, you shouldn’t worry too much, but you will have to get ahead of the accusations; that’s where a reputable immigration attorney can help.
Related: Marriage Green Card
Examples of Marriage Fraud
What does marriage fraud look like? Here are some examples that qualify as a fraudulent marriage:
When a U.S. citizen marries a foreign national in return for monetary compensation .
Mail order grooms or brides that have the sole intent of defrauding the immigration system to obtain permanent resident status.
More rarely, a foreign national may deceive a U.S. citizen to gain their permanent resident status.
Are you being accused of marriage fraud, but your marriage is legitimate? Get in touch with JLB Law today -- they are here to help!
Marriage Fraud Penalties
The government could charge either or both people in the marriage with fraud if the marriage was entered with the intent to evade U.S. immigration laws. Marriage fraud is a serious offense; it’s not worth attempting to deceive the immigration department to obtain permanent resident status. If you get convicted of marriage fraud, you could face:
The denial of your adjustment of status application
The denial of any subsequent visa petitions
Up to five years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine
Additional criminal charges, like visa fraud and harboring an alien
Tips to Prove Your Good Faith Marriage
Now that we’ve covered the consequences you could face for using a fraudulent marriage to obtain permanent residency, you should know that only a couple with a bona fide marriage should try to obtain a marriage-based green card in the U.S.
There are some steps you can take to ensure that the U.S. government does not accuse you of marriage fraud and that they recognize your marriage as valid and legitimate. These steps include:
Know Your Spouse
Unfortunately, sometimes one member of the couple may believe the marriage is legitimate, but the other one is being deceitful to try and gain permanent residency. While this doesn’t happen too often, it’s important to keep in mind. It’s not fraud to want to get immigration benefits after marriage, but it is fraud if the primary purpose of the marriage is to receive those benefits.
It’s essential to know your spouse well and be confident that you are getting married for the right reasons, not just to secure residency status. One of the biggest reasons that the U.S. government might suspect fraud is when there is a divorce shortly after the foreign born party receives his or her green card from Immigration.
Include Documents Demonstrating Your Marriage
For anyone who applies for a marriage-based green card, the U.S. spouse must submit a visa petition to the immigration department via Form I-130. When this petition is filed, it’s important to include documents that demonstrate your bona fide marriage and that you and your spouse have a life together.
The documents you include should illustrate things such as
The fact that you live together (mortgage or rental agreement)
If you have had children, provide their birth certificates
You share finances (bank or credit card statements)
You spend time together (photos, texts, letters, etc.)
Address Any Potential Red Flags
There are some red flags that might cause the government to be suspicious of marriage fraud, like:
A large age difference
Not living together
Large educational or social differences
A history of immigration petitions
Not knowing each other’s family or friends
If you have a legitimate marriage, but you think a red flag like one of these might cause suspicion, you can address the situation by including a letter with your petition. This gives you a chance to explain why something may seem odd but show that it does not mean your marriage is a fraud. Your immigration attorney may be key in sharing his or her experience with you to help you figure out the best way to prove your case and squash any redl flags that may exist in your real, good faith marriage.
Supply Additional Information at Your Green Card Interview
Before you get approved for permanent residency, you will have to attend an interview with USCIS. If the interview is occurring in the U.S both spouses must attend.
Typically, the interviewer will ask you general questions, like how you met, what the wedding was like, etc. This is also your chance to bring in additional evidence of your bona fide marriage that you weren’t able to send in when filing the petition.
How an Attorney Can Help With Your Interview
When your interview is coming up, you and your spouse are probably nervous even though your marriage is legitimate, and that’s normal. That’s also why it’s important to consult an immigration attorney prior to your interview; they can help with things like:
Knowing what questions you might get asked. They will ask you a wide range of questions, like what food was served at your wedding or what kind of furniture is in your shared bedroom.
Preparing the proper documents that you need for your interview, including official forms and other papers like bank statements and utility bills that are in both of your names.
Resolving any issues that might raise a red flag with your interviewer.
Have You Been Accused of Marriage Fraud?
If your marriage is legitimate and you get accused of marriage fraud, it’s time to speak with an immigration attorney if you haven’t already. If your interviewer is suspicious of fraud, you will most likely have to come back for a “Stokes” interview.
During this interview, they will separate you and your spouse and ask in-depth questions about your relationship history and life together. This includes questions pertaining to what you eat, what TV shows you watch, where you sleep, and other aspects of your home life. Your interviewer then compares the answers to determine if the marriage is in good faith or not.
Having an immigration attorney on your side can greatly increase your chances of not getting falsely accused of marriage fraud.
Have you been falsely accused of marriage fraud? Talk with JLB Law today to help prove the legitimacy of your marriage so that you can obtain permanent resident status!