Marriage Fraud

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The Immigration Reform & Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) and the Immigration Marriage Fraud Amendments of 1986 (IMFA) provided drastic changes in the Immigration laws affecting aliens in this country or those wishing to gain admission to the United States as immigrants. The IMFA established a two-step process for those seeking status based on marriage so that a person would initially receive conditional resident status that could be converted to permanent status after two years. The IMFA placed a two-year bar on obtaining permanent residency through a marriage entered into while the person was in exclusion or deportation and a five-year bar on a permanent resident petitioning for a new spouse where he has obtained status based on an earlier marriage.

The IRCA of 1986 and the IMFA of 1986 remain firmly in place. It is also of some importance to note that should an intended immigrant or those seeking status in the United States through the initiation of an I-130 visa petition filed by a spouse or by an intended spouse who is an American citizen, then should the USCIS determine that the visa petition is fraudulent in that the parties are simply seeking status for the beneficiary spouse without any real intent to create a bonafide and legitimate lifelong marital relationship, then the consequences to both parties are considerable. Under the IMFA and other existing immigration laws, should the USCIS conclude that the alien spouse has committed marriage fraud or that they intend to commit marriage fraud, then they are barred from seeking any status whatsoever while remaining in the United States. Possible immigrant status may then only be achieved should the alien spouse/beneficiary actually leave the United States for a period of time of perhaps two years or longer in order to have a possible opportunity to re-enter this country as an immigrant based upon a subsequently filed new I-130 visa petition.

Once a conclusion has been reached by the USCIS that one has committed marriage fraud, this fact remains part of the permanent record file of the alien in question and thus it shall forever impact that same individual’s attempts to enter the United States as an immigrant or perhaps as a nonimmigrant in the future.

When advising those seeking counsel in our offices or those who have retained our services for possible immigrant visa purposes, we consistently admonish those individuals as to the consequences of committing marriage fraud.

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