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204 (c) Marriage Fraud

204 (c) Marriage Fraud

When an individual in the United States marries a foreign national to help them cross the international border or for money, both parties may be accused of committing marriage fraud for immigration purposes. These situations typically require the services of an immigration lawyer who can defend against the charges in court to help individuals avoid penalties and to help support the marriage. Below, our Chicago immigration lawyer explains further.

What is Marriage Fraud?

Foreign nationals may arrange a marriage with a United States citizen in order to legally enter the country. These arrangements usually provide the foreign national with an immediate fiancé visa that allows them to permanently live and work in the country. However, when a marriage is not legitimate, the authorities can charge one or both individuals with marriage fraud. 

Marriage fraud is the act of getting married or intending to marry with the intent of deceiving authorities to apply for a visa and enter the country. Marriage fraud can also involve falsifying marriage documents and setting up a fraudulent living arrangement. When a couple is accused of marriage fraud, an investigation may be conducted, during which the couple may have to prove the marriage is legitimate.

How Common is Marriage Fraud?

Unfortunately, marriage fraud is much more common than many people think. According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), more than one-third of all fiancé visa applications are invalid. For this reason, the agency closely scrutinizes all applications and individuals who enter into a marriage with a foreign national. If the USCIS finds that the marriage is not valid, it can result in harsh penalties, including deportation.

Penalties Associated with Marriage Fraud

When the USCIS finds that a marriage, or pending marriage, is not legitimate, there are serious penalties for both parties. The fines for marriage fraud can be as high as $250,000. The foreign national may also be deported if they have already entered the country, and they will lose any immigration status they currently have. If convicted, the foreign national is usually banned from acquiring citizenship for their lifetime. If the marriage has already occurred, it is usually annulled. 

The American citizen will also face penalties for being involved in fraudulent acts. Both parties should speak to an immigration lawyer who can defend against the accusations and prove the legitimacy of the marriage. A lawyer can also prove to the judge or jury panel that the two parties both meet the eligibility requirements.

Our Immigration Lawyer in Chicago Can Prove Your Case

Entering the country to marry is a very exciting time. You are about to embark on a new life in a new country and with the person you love. Unfortunately, accusations of marriage fraud can make life very difficult. At Sverdloff Law Group, our Chicago immigration lawyer can defend against these charges and prove your case so your future is protected and you can enter the country. Call us now or contact us online to request a consultation and learn more.

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