“Marriage fraud,” that is to enter into or endeavor to enter into a marriage for the sole purpose of procuring immigration benefits, is a very serious charge in the immigration context.
Attempting to procure or procuring immigration benefits through a sham marriage can lead to inadmissibility and/or deportation, depending on the alien’s situation.
In the case of Salas-Velazquez, the Petitioner who was a native and citizen of Mexico entered the United States as a visitor for pleasure. He purported to marry a citizen of the United States, and, on the basis of that alleged marriage, filed a petition to adjust his status to that of a permanent resident alien. That petition was denied in 1989 on the ground that the marriage was fraudulent, entered into for the purpose of evading the immigration laws. Almost two years later, in 1991, the Immigration and Naturalization Service served petitioner with an order to show cause, charging him with deportability.
A hearing was held before an immigration judge, during which petitioner made a motion for adjustment of status based on a second marriage, also to a United States citizen. There was no dispute as to the genuineness of the second marriage. The immigration judge denied this motion. Later, the judge found that petitioner’s first marriage was fraudulent, that petitioner and his first wife never lived together, and that petitioner contracted the marriage for the purpose of immigrating to the United States. On the basis of this evidence, the judge sustained the charges of deportability. Salas-Velazquez v. INS. 34 F. 3d 705 – Court of Appeals. 8th Circuit 1994.
Beside of the severity immigration consequences, a person who enters into a marriage for the purpose of evading any provision of the INA can be prosecuted and if convicted, faces term of imprisonment for up to five years, a fine of up to $250,000.00, or both imprisonment and a fine. See 8 U.S.C. § 1325(c).