MATRIMONIAL FRAUD AND ITS CONSEQUENCES

“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).

THE VISAS OF LOVE

What does love mean for couples who are in long-distance relationships halfway around the globe?

For couples in long-distance relationships, love usually means one of them moves to the United States to take the relationship to the next level. This move is made possible through the K visa, which allows a U.S. citizen (USC) to petition for his or her fiancé(e) or spouse, the fiancé(e)’s the unmarried minor child (K-2), and the spouse’s unmarried minor child (K-4) to enter the United States.

The K-1 visa permits the foreign-citizen fiancé(e) to travel to the United States and marry his or her U.S. citizen sponsor within 90 days of arrival. The foreign-citizen will then apply for adjustment of status to a permanent resident (LPR) with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Because a fiancé(e) visa permits the holder to immigrate to the U.S. and marry a U.S. citizen shortly after arrival in the United States, the fiancé(e) must meet some of the requirements of an immigrant visa. Eligible children of K-1 visa applicants receive K-2 visas.

However, processing a K visa petition requires mental acuity and endless patience. There are many documents to complete and varing waiting periods for the completion and approval of the steps toward obtaining the visa. Throughout the whole process, both the petitioner and beneficiary must demonstrate that they have a bona fide romantic relationship.

The International Marriage Broker Regulation Act (IMBRA) amended and supplemented Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) requires that petitioner of a K-1 or K-3 visa disclose, as part of this petition, information of any criminal convictions for specific crimes. The USCIS guidance provides that if the petitioner has been convicted of any of the specific crimes listed on the INA, or if the USCIS learns of the petitioner’s convictions, he or she is required to submit certified copies of all court and police records showing the charges and dispositions of every conviction. If the petition is approved, the U.S. Department of State will disclose this information to the beneficiary during the consular interview.