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ResourcesVisa & Immigration LawUS Immigration LawThe Implications of Marriage Fraud in a US Immigration Context

The Implications of Marriage Fraud in a US Immigration Context

Transcript of the above video:

As the title to this video suggests we are going to be discussing marriage fraud, specifically within the context of the US immigration apparatus. The reason I bring this up is, we do a lot of family-based petitions out of our offices here in Bangkok. We see a lot of fiancée and marriage visas, we see children of American citizens, American lawful permanent residents, and stepchildren of American citizens, so we deal with a lot of family-based stuff. 

There was a recent article or a recent posting on the USCIS website, uscis.gov release date May 3, 2018. The headline is: USCIS Plays Key Role in Miami Marriage Fraud Conviction. Quoting directly: “MIAMI – U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officers detected a multi-year fraudulent marriage scheme which resulted in the investigation and conviction of (I am going to redact the name), a Jamaican national, on April 25, 2018.  Benjamin G. Greenberg, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; Mark Selby, special agent in charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, Miami Field Office; and Linda M. Swacina, USCIS Miami and Caribbean District Director, made the announcement.   The individual was convicted at a trial on April 25, 2018, of procurement of citizenship or naturalization unlawfully, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1425(a) and misuse of evidence of citizenship or naturalization  violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1423.

Quoting further, “According to evidence presented at trial, in 2007, the Jamaican national, paid a U.S. citizen between $8,000 and $10,000 to enter into a fraudulent marriage, so he could unlawfully obtain U.S. residency and qualify for citizenship. Based on the fraudulent marriage, he acquired residency, and in 2013, he became a U.S. citizen. About two months after obtaining a U.S. passport, Fraser filed for divorce against his U.S. citizen spouse and soon after married the mother of his child, also a Jamaican national. He then filed immigration paperwork to have his Jamaican-citizen spouse obtain U.S. legal permanent residency”.

So why am I bringing this up?  Well I bring it up, first of all I have little doubt that any of our clients engage in any sort of sham marriages but you kind of do see people talk about “ oh you can just marry somebody and get a green card !”  Most people that are talking about it either don’t know what they’re talking about or speaking flippantly or from a state of ignorance. The fact of the matter is you have to be engaged in a bona fide relationship in order to seek marriage or fiancé or immigration benefits based thereon; so it has to be genuine.  Clearly this investigation was rather detailed. I urge those who are interested to go and check out the story in detail because there is a lot more where they go onto what they went through to go ahead and apprehend this individual and bring him to trial.

The reason I bring it up is more to highlight the fact the immigration apparatus’ enforcement capabilities are not to be sniffed at; they are substantial. Moreover they take these issues seriously. I’m sure that there are those out there that would say “well what’s the big deal? OK so the guy gamed the system a little bit”. Well he didn’t game the system, he lied and he utilized the mechanisms in the way that they weren’t intended to be utilized and frankly the result of having somebody fraudulent in the system taxes the system to the point where it is detrimental for the other folks that are in the system who are genuine, have a bona fide relationship and are processing for genuine reasons. Not to get too much, not to highroad him totally, but it is simply a crime and there is an investigation apparatus, an inspectorate if you will within the Department of Homeland Security that is designated with apprehending these individuals and ascertaining whether or not these cases are legitimate and where they find that these cases are not legitimate, there could be criminal penalties. So when thinking of anything having to do with the immigration apparatus the first thing to think of is first of all just don’t lie. Don’t do this kind of thing; don’t engage in this kind of activity. Tell the truth and deal with the legal consequences and then further and more obviously, don’t engage in fraud.

That being said, why I wanted to make this video was to highlight that the immigration apparatus in the United States does have enforcement officers, they have inspectors, they take their job seriously, they have budgets and they do inspect these cases. And they do inspect those that they feel are sort of operating under suspicious circumstances. So sort of prospectively, it is a good idea to keep that in mind and understand that this is a serious process and the adjudication needs to be dealt with seriously.