Marriage immigration occurs when a non-American citizen marries an American citizen who is living in the U.S. If the non-citizen spouse wishes to obtain a visa to live and work permanently in the U.S., they can apply to enter the U.S. either on a fiancé or marriage visa.
Immigration marriage fraud is a violation where a person enters into a fake or fraudulent marriage with the intent to deceive immigration officials. It is also known as a “sham marriage.” Some examples of conduct that might fall under immigration marriage fraud can include:
Marriage fraud is illegal and can result in various legal penalties.
Given how difficult it is for immigrants to legally obtain a visa, it has become common for immigrants to seek U.S. citizenship by marrying a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has indicated that sham marriages have been detected in as many as one-third of immigrant marriage applications. Therefore, USCIS is given a broad authority to conduct detailed investigations and test the validity of a marriage.
Marriages that are entered into for reasons other than love are generally legally so long as the individuals follow all the marriage requirements for a legal marriage, such as having a valid marriage license and being of age to marry. Certainly, people marry for reasons other than for love. However, when two people marry with the intent to commit fraud, such as marrying in order for one person to gain U.S. citizenship, it is illegal.
Sham marriages carry severe penalties with them. For example, if the sham marriage is based on immigration fraud, penalties can include:
If one person created a sham marriage (i.e., one party intentionally deceived the other), the guilty party may have to pay retribution. This is typical if the arrangement resulted in losses to the innocent party. Often the marriage will be legally annulled. Serious offenses may be recorded on one’s criminal record.
Yes. If you are not entering a sham marriage and are married or engaged to a U.S. citizen, you and your spouse can apply through the USCIS, also called the BCIS, for a permanent visa (Green Card) under U.S. immigration marriage laws allowing you to live and work within the U.S. indefinitely. You may later apply to become an American citizen.
You may be inadmissible or ineligible for a marriage visa if you have been convicted of a serious crime, an act of terrorism, or have violated certain immigration laws. You may also be ineligible if you have a contagious disease such as HIV or tuberculosis, or if you have spent too much time in the U.S. illegally. To be eligible for a visa, you may not be married to more than one person. If you are found inadmissible, you may file form I-601, called an Application for Waiver on the Ground of Excludability.
Immigration based on marital relationships shouldn’t present any legal issues if they’re legitimate. If you have any questions or concerns regarding immigration and marriage, you may wish to hire an immigration attorney for help. Your attorney can assist you with the petitioning process if necessary, and can also keep you updated on any changes to immigration laws. Also, if you’re facing any legal disputes regarding immigration, an experienced attorney can provide you with legal representation in court.
Last Modified: 11-10-2017 09:48 AM PSTLaw Library Disclaimer
We've helped more than 4 million clients find the right lawyer – for free. Present your case online in minutes. LegalMatch matches you to pre-screened lawyers in your city or county based on the specifics of your case. Within 24 hours experienced local lawyers review it and evaluate if you have a solid case. If so, attorneys respond with an offer to represent you that includes a full attorney profile with details on their fee structure, background, and ratings by other LegalMatch users so you can decide if they're the right lawyer for you.