Immigration Fraud Defense
CRIMINAL AND IMMIGRATION LAWYER
Immigration fraud covers a wide variety of situations, from providing false information or false documents when applying for a visa of Green Card, to enter into a sham marriage to obtain immigration benefits.
If you have been accused of engaging in immigration fraud, you have to immediately retain an experienced criminal and immigration lawyer to rebut the fraud charges and remain in the United States legally. A finding of immigration fraud can have very harsh consequences. Immigration misrepresentation or document fraud is a permanent ban for obtaining any future immigration benefits, and can be waived only in limited cases. On the other hand, a finding of marriage fraud is a permanent ban to immigration benefits and cannot be waived.
The most common immigration fraud involves sham marriages. A sham marriage is one that is contracted for the sole purpose of conferring immigration benefits to a foreign national. The USCIS examines very carefully every petition filed on behalf of an alien spouse of a United States citizen, due to a substantial raise of marriage fraud cases.
Besides being a permanent ban to future immigration benefits, marriage fraud is also a federal crime. Pursuant to 8 U.S.C. § 1325 and 18 U.S.C. § 1546(a), an alien (as well as his/her U.S. citizen spouse or any other third party involved) who is found to have perpetrated immigration fraud by marriage can be punished by up to 5 years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines.
Fraud and Misuse of Visas, Permits, and other Documents
The effects of an immigration fraud conviction under 18 USC 1546 are permanent and extremely serious. Once convicted, the offender is permanently barred from receiving immigration benefits. Under 18 USC 1546, there are several types of immigration fraud:
Document fraud or identity fraud refers to the making, sale or use of forged identity documents like birth certificates, driver’s licenses, passports, or Social Security cards. It may also involve identity theft and any attempt to procure genuine identity documents through illicit means.
Benefit fraud is the deliberate misrepresentation, distortion, or omission of facts on an application to get an immigration benefit including legal residency or a valid visa. Because thousands are looking for any means to freely enter, work, or reside in the U.S., benefit fraud attracts schemers, middlemen, and co-conspirators looking to profit from this crime.
Asylum fraud refers to those who seek refugee status by fraudulent means. Many fraudulent asylum seekers portray themselves as victims of religious or political persecution in their native countries.
Marriage Fraud refers to anyone who enters into a marriage under false pretenses for the purpose of evading U.S. immigration law.
Consequences of Fraud
Aside from being barred from the country, there are other substantial consequences for this type of crime. Anyone who, while under oath, makes false statements or describes as true the false statements of an application, affidavit, or other immigration document may be found guilty of perjury. This carries a sentence of up to 5 years and fines.
As a criminal and immigration lawyer licensed in New York and New Jersey, I have successfully defended numerous clients charged with marriage fraud. In marriage fraud cases, USCIS has the burden of proving that the record contains “substantial and probative” evidence against an immigrant alien. There have been cases where the marriage was contracted in good faith and later fell apart, but the foreign national persuades the U.S. citizen spouse to remain married as long as necessary for him or her to obtain lawful permanent resident status. There are several cases holding that the viability of a marriage cannot be a proper concern of USCIS if the maggiage is valid and was originally contracted in good faith.
A USCIS finding of marriage fraud can be challenged by filing an appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals and an appeal to a Federal District Court.
Contact my office today if you have been accused of marriage fraud and want to fight your case.