Getting married for the sole purpose of obtaining a U.S. greencard or lawful residency is a type of fraud, and is illegal under federal law. And, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has been cracking down on marriage fraud more than ever before – in late April of 2015, 27 different people in Florida were charged with marriage fraud.
Federal Authorities Bust Marriage Fraud Ring
On Sunday April 26, 2015, federal authorities pressed charges against 27 different people in South Florida for the organization of a marriage fraud ring. According to news sources, the ring was operated for the sole purpose of bringing immigrants into the country unlawfully.
The marriage fraud ring was operated from May 2011 up until February 2014, say authorities. People from a multitude of countries were brought into the U.S. under the guise of true love – countries from which immigrants came include Argentina, Ukraine, Moldova, Israel, Venezuela, and Colombia.
How Marriage Fraud is Defined
According to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), types of marriage fraud include any of the following:
- A U.S. citizen is paid for, or asked to perform a favor, to marriage a foreign person;
- A “mail-order” marriage where either party involved knows that the marriage is fraudulent;
- Visa lottery fraudulent marriage; and/or
- A foreign national enters in a marriage with a U.S. citizen who believes that the marriage is legitimate.
If the ICE suspects marriage fraud, a thorough investigation will follow. Proving a legitimate marriage to the ICE can be extremely difficult.
The Penalties for Marriage Fraud
Marriage fraud is a serious federal offense. While a conviction has not yet been issued for the 27 people recently charged with marriage fraud, and therefore a sentence has not been given, the penalty may be up to five years in prison. What’s more, a conviction also carries a fine of up to $250,000. The felony offense and penalties apply to both U.S. citizens and foreign nationals who are convicted of marriage fraud.
Legal Remedies for Those Facing Immigration Charges
If you’re facing any immigration-related charges in Boston, or if you have questions about your immigration status, you should not proceed without legal counsel. Even if you are not a U.S. citizen,, you have the right to an attorney. An immigration attorney can help to ensure that your case is treated fairly, and that you’re awarded the legal opportunities you’re entitled to under the law.
At Goldstein Immigration Lawyers our immigration specialists understand how traumatic getting U.S. citizenship on your own, facing criminal charges, or the prospect of deportation can be. Let us help you today by calling 617-722-0005.