Individuals who are married to American citizens can begin the naturalization process sooner than individuals who are not. Because of this, the prospect of marrying an American citizen in order to begin and complete this process can be very attractive to individuals seeking US citizenship. But doing so is also an illegal act known as marriage fraud.
Sometimes, facts about a marriage can raise “red flags” with the United States Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that leads to an investigation of alleged marriage fraud. If your marriage is under investigation, work with an experienced immigration lawyer to demonstrate that you are not simply married to circumvent US immigration laws. Below are a few red flags that could lead to a marriage fraud investigation.
If a couple does not appear to have a common language, it can appear that they do not have a strong relationship, which can raise suspicions about the validity of their marriage. Of course, your common language might not be apparent or one or both of you might be learning each other’s language, which you could have to demonstrate during an investigation of your marriage.
When a married couple resides at two different addresses, the legitimacy of their marriage can be suspect.
This issue can be especially concerning if one or more of your past marriages also involved an immigrant who later became a citizen.
Few couples discuss marriage before they have spent at least a few months, but generally at least a year, together. When a couple marries soon after meeting, it can raise red flags. Marrying soon after one or both partners finalize a divorce can also be suspect, as can a marriage just before an individual’s non-immigrant visa expires.
This could be a significant difference in social class, career level, or educational attainment. When there is a clear difference in economic power in a relationship, ICE may suspect that the marriage occurred for financial gain.
Marriage fraud is a felony. Individuals who are found guilty of this offense, whether they are US citizens or foreign nationals, face the following penalties:
Individuals may also be charged with visa fraud, conspiracy, and harboring an alien.
If your marriage was flagged as potentially being fraudulent, you need to work with an experienced immigration lawyer to demonstrate that you and your spouse are not committing immigration fraud. To learn more, contact our team of immigration lawyers at Kriezelman Burton & Associates, LLC today to set up your initial consultation in our office.
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The KB&A Team