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What Is Marriage Fraud Under Immigration Law?

couple holding hands with an engagement ring

Obtaining a marriage visa is one of the most popular methods of immigrating to the United States. A U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident can sponsor their spouse to obtain a visa. However, failing to meet the specific requirements of a marriage visa can result in fraud. Our Orange County immigration attorneys further explain what marriage fraud is under immigration law.

If you need assistance with your marriage visa application, please contact our Orange County family-based immigration lawyers today at (949) 478-4963!

What Is Marriage Fraud?

Marriage fraud occurs when a foreign national marries a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident for the primary purpose of entering the U.S. and obtaining a marriage visa. Marriage fraud is considered a serious criminal offense that can result in deportation and even jail time.

Individuals may face criminal charges for marriage fraud if they engage in the following activities:

  • A U.S. citizen is paid to marry a foreign national
  • A U.S. citizen marries a foreign national as a favor
  • A foreign national defrauds a U.S. citizen who believes their marriage is legitimate
  • Mail ordered marriages
  • Visa lottery fraudulent marriages

How Does the U.S. Government Detect Marriage Fraud?

Since marriage fraud has been a recurring problem for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), they are extremely strict and thorough when reviewing marriage-based visa applications. To detect frauds, U.S. immigration authorities require substantial proof that the marriage is real. They also require applicants to go through a longer and more detailed interview compared to other family-based visa applicants. In addition to those requirements, applicants go through a two-year testing period if they have been married for less than two years to ensure that the marriage is valid.

What Are the Consequences of Marriage Fraud?

A couple (both American and foreign nationals) who commit marriage fraud will face serious consequences. Below we have put together a list of the penalties a couple can face after being charged with marriage fraud:

  • Deportation of the non-citizen spouse
  • Denial of subsequent immigration visa petitions
  • Sentence of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000

If other crimes were committed aside from marriage fraud, such as making false statements, visa fraud, and more could result in additional fines and prison sentences. If you face charges for immigration fraud, it is best to contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible.

How to Prove a Marriage Is Valid

Proving the validity of your legitimate marriage shouldn’t be difficult. Nevertheless, it’s important to prepare for your marriage visa interview. During the interview, an immigration officer will meet with you to determine whether your marriage is real. Failing to adequately demonstrate the validity of your marriage could result in marriage fraud.

To prepare for the marriage interview, you should bring all requested documents and forms, along with your marriage certificate. You should also bring your children’s birth certificate, photos of your wedding, joint bank accounts, and witness statements from family and friends.

Orange County Immigration Attorneys

If you or your loved one want to obtain a marriage visa, you will need the help of a skilled and knowledgeable immigration attorney. If you face marriage fraud charges, our team can also analyze your case and help you develop a strong case. Our team has been helping families unite and remain together, and we are ready to help you. We have the knowledge, skills, and experience needed to help you with your immigration case from beginning to end.

Contact our Orange County immigration lawyers today at (949) 478-4963 to schedule a consultation!


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