For most foreign nationals, obtaining a green card can be a significant milestone in life. Besides earning the right to live and work in the U.S. on a permanent basis, the green card also paves your path toward full citizenship and all the privileges that can bring.
Since a green card is highly coveted, it is not uncommon for potential immigrants to go the extra mile to obtain one, including through dubious means. One of the most common, yet illegal, ways foreign nationals attempt to obtain a green card is through false or fraudulent marriage.
When can a marriage be deemed fraudulent?
Basically, no law prevents U.S. citizens from marrying foreign nationals. However, when that marriage is solely entered into for the purpose of aiding the foreign national’s quest for a green card, then it will be deemed a sham marriage.
Marriage fraud is a very serious offense, and there are good reasons for that: First, marrying for a green card is an abuse of the U.S. immigration system. It also puts undue pressure on the economy and social services. Finally, it poses a serious threat to national security. Marrying for a green card is a serious federal offense. If you are caught, both the alien and the U.S. national who facilitated it will face serious legal and personal consequences.
Consequences for the foreign national
Getting into a sham marriage to obtain a green card can lead to a 5-year imprisonment or up to $250,000 in fines or both. On top of this, you will immediately lose your green card. Consequently, you will be removed from the country.
Consequences for the U.S. national
A U.S. national who is found to have facilitated marriage fraud may face a number of charges such as illegally hosting an alien, conspiring to commit a crime or committing visa fraud.
Safeguarding your rights
Being accused of marrying for a green card is a big deal. Learning more about U.S. immigration laws can help you protect your rights and interest if you are accused of marriage fraud.