What Is Marriage Fraud and How Do I Know If I’m a Victim of it?

Photo of Two Individuals Signing Papers

There are many US immigration laws that prohibit certain actions in order to enter the country, and many immigrants are unaware of the details of these laws. In order to obtain a US lawful permanent residence, or green card, people will go to great lengths to break the law. Sham marriages are a common way that immigrants try to get their green card and maintain a residency in the country, but this is extremely illegal and can have serious consequences.

What Is Marriage Fraud?

A sham marriage, or “fake” marriage, is a marriage that is entered into in order to get around certain US immigration laws. For a marriage to be legally valid under the country’s law, it is not enough that a couple has a marriage ceremony and receives the correct government stamps on their marriage certificate. They will have to intentionally be in a real, committed relationship, and they must prove their real intentions through their actions over a period of time. If the couple cannot prove that they have established a life together, their marriage can be considered a sham under US immigration law. Marriage fraud can also occur if a marriage isn’t legally valid. This can occur if a person doesn’t legally divorce another person before getting married again.

How Does US Immigration Detect Marriage Fraud?

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services, or USCIS, is very serious about marriage fraud and it remains as a top priority for the department. To detect this type of fraud, USCIS officers and immigration authorities will ask for a large amount of proof that a marriage is real, which will include a huge amount of documentation. The immigrants will be subject to a very long and detailed personal interview, as well as a two-year testing period for couples who have been married less than two years once their green card is approved. Immigration services won’t follow a couple around after the required paperwork and interviews have been conducted unless they have grounds for suspicion. They will always have the right to visit your home, talk to your friends and family, and even interview your employers.

If you got married illegally or under false pretenses, you could be charged with marriage fraud. If you have been involved in marriage fraud and are seeking annulment or divorce, our divorce attorneys can help you through the process and give you more information on the dangers of marital fraud. Contact us today.