Immigration fraud occurs when an individual attempts to obtain immigration benefits by engaging in deceit or making misrepresentations. For instance, if an alien who is applying for U.S. citizenship attempts to use a false name or date of birth, they would be committing immigration fraud, and would be deemed inadmissible.
Marriage fraud is another example of immigration fraud that would likely result in denied immigration benefits and possible penalties. In addition to aliens trying to circumvent the system, U.S. citizens petitioning loved ones have also been involved in immigration fraud.
Immigration fraud is usually broken down into two categories: document fraud and benefit application fraud. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) defines immigration document fraud as the counterfeiting, manufacturing, alteration, sale, and/or use of identity documents and other fraudulent documents to circumvent immigration laws.
Examples of document fraud include falsifying medical reports, prior residence history, and banking statements. Fake forms of identification, such as passports, social security cards, and visas are included under the document fraud umbrella, as well as any illegal alien attempting to obtain employment in the U.S.
Immigration benefits fraud is the willful misrepresentation of material fact on an application or petition with the intent to gain immigration benefits. Attempts to gain social security benefits, permanent residence in the U.S., or a valid visa are all examples of benefits fraud. Marriage fraud falls under the benefits fraud category, and is taken seriously, including financial penalties and up to five years in prison.
Anyone who is found guilty of defrauding the federal government will be subject to serious penalties. Under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), any alien who circumvents any document requirements will be subject to civil penalties, denied immigration benefits, and in some circumstances, criminal penalties may follow.
Some crimes will result in a person’s immediate deportation from the United States, including those considered to be crimes of moral turpitude. These crimes require willful criminal intent, and document fraud fits the bill. Not only can document fraud result in deportation, but benefit fraud may also be cause for deportation. Criminal penalties such as fines and imprisonment, and being barred from re-entry are possible for people who break the law.
If you are experiencing any issues related to immigration, you should contact an immigration lawyer immediately. Federal laws and policies change frequently, and if you have been charged with immigration fraud, an experienced lawyer will be able to advise you of your rights, build your case and determine your defenses, as well as represent your best interests in court.