Fraudulent marriages are entered into in attempts to circumvent existing United States immigration laws. For purposes of immigration, a legal marriage here in the United States or elsewhere with a valid marriage certificate doesn’t make the marriage valid. Upon getting married, the parties must intend to live together as a couple in an actual marital relationship. In proving an actual marital relationship, actions often speak louder than words.
Investigating marriage fraud
Uncovering fraudulent marriages is a pivotal concern for the U.S. Customs and Immigration Service due to national security issues. Spouses entering the United States might really be intending on committing serious crimes here or even participating in terrorist activities. Those are just two of the reasons why there’s a mandatory two year conditional “wait and see” period on spousal visas that are issued. Within 90 days of the expiration of that two year period, another application must be made for permanent residency.
What are the indicators of a valid marriage?
For purposes of immigration, there aren’t any statutes or regulations that define what a valid marriage is. According to the Law Offices of Joshua L. Goldstein, P.C., the indicators come from the guidance of previous court cases and experienced immigration attorneys. Usual and customary indicators of a valid marriage might include but not be limited to:
- Speaking the same language
- Participation in activities together
- Attending significant events with each other
- Sexual relations with each other
- Common children
- Joint financial responsibilities
- Joint titles of vehicles or homes
The penalties for marriage fraud
The U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act sets forth the penalties for marriage fraud. Title 8 Section 1325(c) states as follows: “Any individual who knowingly enters into a marriage for the purpose of evading any provision of the immigration laws shall be imprisoned for no more than 5 years, or fined not more than $250,000, or both.” Other charges could also be filed, each with further imprisonment and fines.
How violators might be charged
What an individual might be charged with depends on the facts of each individual case. If a calculated conspiracy arranging for sham marriages is involved, more charges and higher penalties will likely be sought. Whether the immigrant might be charged is a matter of prosecutorial discretion, but he or she faces almost certain deportation without eligibility to return to the United States.
Sham marriages with foreign nationals involve the national security of the United States. Valid marriages and marital relationships must exist.
This article is from Lizzie Weakley, a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. She went to college at The Ohio State University where she studied communications. She enjoys the outdoors and long walks in the park with her four-year-old husky Snowball.