By Rhodora Derpo
What is immigration marriage fraud? Under the Immigration Marriage Fraud Amendments Act of 1986, marriage fraud occurs when an individual “knowingly enters into a marriage for the purpose of evading any provision of the immigration laws.” Here are some typical fact patterns:
1) Lucy, a United States citizen, and Rudy, a noncitizen who has overstayed his visa, get married and they fulfill all the legal requirements for a legal marriage. However, Lucy and Rudy never intended to live as husband and wife.
2) Cliff, a non-citizen whose work visa is about to expire, pays Samantha, a lawful permanent resident/green-card holder, to marry him so that he can obtain status as a permanent resident in the United States.
3) Reggie, a United States citizen, was not paid to marry Linda, a non-citizen, but there was an agreement between them that the marriage was created solely to enable Linda to obtain immigration benefits.
As seen in the examples above, marriage fraud occurs if the petitioner and beneficiary enter into marriage to evade immigration laws. While a non-citizen can absolutely marry a United States citizen/green-card holder knowing that he or she will obtain an immigration benefit, he or she must not enter into marriage solely or primarily just to receive an immigration benefit. The marriage must be based on the couple’s intention to spend their lives together as husband and wife.
Conduct of the parties
How is the government regulating fraudulent marriages? United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has dedicated a substantial amount of resources to stop fraudulently married non-citizens from obtaining immigration benefits. Each marriage-based green-card application is reviewed with scrutiny in order for USCIS to make a determination that a marriage is bona fide and legitimate for immigration purposes.
The examining officer may look at the conduct of the parties after the marriage to determine their intent at the time of marriage. During the marriage interview, the examining officer may ask the couple, for example: whether they jointly own property; whether they are living together; and, whether they are conducting themselves as husband and wife. Some officers also use visual clues and examine the parties’ body language and whether either one is wearing a wedding ring.
What results if the marriage is a fraud? If there is evidence of a fraudulent marriage, USCIS will deny immigration petitions and applications for adjustment of status. Moreover, if a noncitizen is charged with marriage fraud, he or she will be barred from obtaining an immigration benefit under Section 204(c) Immigration and Nationality Act as amended. A 204(c) finding has steep immigration consequences. The noncitizen has a slim chance of obtaining permanent resident status in the United States. Once a denial order is issued based on a 204(c) finding, the applicant is ineligible to receive an immigration benefit from any subsequent petition filed on his or her behalf. The only exception is where a second petition is filed and approved based on the same marriage.
Furthermore, individuals charged with entering into a marriage to evade immigration laws face sentences of up to 5 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine. A noncitizen who enters into a sham marriage will also become subject to removal (or deportation).
What is the role of immigration attorneys? Attorneys hold positions of public trust. We are officers of the court and must inquire into the merits of every case. We have a duty to get to know our clients and our case. If something looks odd to us, we must perform due diligence. We should not be facilitating or helping our clients to violate the law for our own personal profit. Immigration attorneys must not present materially false documentation with the intention of defrauding the legal immigration system. Immigration marriage fraud is serious business. •
Source : pinoynewsmagazine