Each year, many U.S. nationals meet and fall in love with foreign nationals. If you meet and fall in love with a foreign national, U.S. laws allow you to bring them into the country provided that your marriage is legitimate and founded in good faith.
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for some foreign nationals to marry U.S. citizens for the sole purpose of accessing immigration benefits, such as obtaining a green card. According to the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), this amount to a sham marriage and the repercussions can be grievous.
Understanding sham marriage
Basically, a sham marriage is one that a U.S. national enters into with a foreign national with the sole purpose of allowing the foreigner to obtain a lawful permanent residence in the United States. Also known as “green card marriage,” the penalties for those who are convicted of this offense may include imprisonment for up to five years, a $250,000 fine or both. And after serving time, the foreign national in question will be removed from the country.
How does the government decide whether a marriage is a sham or not?
Generally, a marriage comes under suspicion as soon as you apply to bring an immigrant spouse into the country. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will monitor your life to try to determine if something is amiss. Here are some of the things the USCIS will look into:
- Whether you are or have physically lived together
- Whether you have joint finances
- Evidence of marriage (a marriage certificate and or wedding photos)
- Whether you have children together
Defending against accusations of immigration fraud
If you are accused of marriage fraud, you’ll need to figure out how to fight the allegation. Find out how you can defend your rights when charged with immigration fraud by seeking legal guidance.