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Can You Apply for Asylum if You Have Engaged in Marriage Fraud?

Couple having problems in relationship

Asylum is available for those seeking to stay in the United States on the grounds that they have suffered -- or will suffer -- persecution if they are returned to their country of origin. General categories include persecution based on:

  • Race
  • Religion
  • Nationality
  • Membership in a particular social group
  • Political opinion

Only those physically within the United States may apply for asylum. The process involves filing Form I-589 ("Application for Asylum and Withholding of Removal"). This form must be filed within one year of arrival in the United States, however, exceptions to the one year filing requirement exist. Essentially, to be eligible for asylum, you must demonstrate a "credible fear" of persecution and that you are worthy of help from the United States in the form of asylum.

There are several bars to being granted asylum. One example is if you fail to file for asylum within one year of arriving in the United States (and do not qualify for an exception). Another example is having had a previous asylum application denied by an immigration judge or the Board of Immigration Appeals.

Importantly for this article, there is NO bar to being granted asylum that is based on fraudulent statements related to marriage. There IS a bar for criminal activity, but that is not the same as marriage fraud. Thus, even if you have committed fraud related to marriage in U.S. immigration proceedings, that fraud will NOT bar you from seeking asylum. Asylum is governed by a different set of U.S. statutes and, consequently, marriage fraud does not make you inadmissible.

Why Marriage Fraud Might Still Matter

That being said, marriage fraud might still cause problems for your asylum application. This is because an immigration judge will weigh facts and credibility when considering whether there is a credible fear of persecution and whether the asylum-seeker is entitled to the benefit of help from the U.S. government. In this way, proof of marriage fraud might hurt your credibility and might lead an immigration judge to deny your asylum application.

Marriage Fraud Comes in Many Forms

It should be noted, though, that marriage fraud can come in many forms. On the extreme, the marriage fraud might have been lying about being married or saying that you are not married when in fact you are married, etc. On the other end of the spectrum, marriage fraud imnvolved pretending you are married to someone when in fact, you are doing so only for a green card. So, as with many things in the law, the immigration judge will evaluate what TYPE of marriage fraud was involved.

What About Applying Under the United Nations Convention Against Torture?

If you have a reasonable fear of being tortured if you are returned to your country of origin, then you can also apply for non-removal from the United States under the United Nations Convention Against Torture ("CAT"). As with seeking asylum, marriage fraud is not a bar to being granted relief under the CAT.

Contact Yekrangi & Associates Today

For more information, contact the Orange County Immigration Attorneys at Yekrangi & Associates today. You are not alone and we will fight for you. Yekrangi & Associates works to meet a higher standard. Our first goal is your satisfaction. Contact us at (949) 478-4963 to schedule a consultation or complete our convenient “Get Your Consultation” form here. We are located in Irvine, California.


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