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Marriage Fraudmarriage fraud

Marriage fraud is the term used to describe a situation when a foreigner marries a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident, for the sole or primary purpose of getting immigration benefits.

There are many immigration benefits available to aliens who are married to U.S. citizens including waiving the unlawful presence, unlawful employment, and

So immigration authorities apply high levels of scrutiny to the legitimacy of the marriage when an alien seeks an immigration benefit based on marriage to a U.S. citizen.

According to INA § 216(b)(1) “if DHS finds that

(A) the qualifying marriage-

(i) was entered into for the purpose of procuring an alien’s admission as an immigrant, or
(ii) has been judicially annulled or terminated, other than through the death of a spouse; or

(B) a fee or other consideration was given (other than a fee or other consideration to an attorney for assistance in preparation of a lawful petition) for the filing of a petition under section 204(a) or subsection (d) or (p) of section 214 with respect to the alien;

the Secretary of Homeland Security shall so notify the parties involved and, subject to paragraph (2), shall terminate the permanent resident status of the alien (or aliens) involved as of the date of the determination.”

During the interview the immigration officer observes the couple’s behavior and pays special attention to the following red flags:

  • No shared language.
  • Vast difference in age.
  • Difference in religion.
  • Different social class or cultural background.
  • Difference in race.
  • Unequal educational background.
  • Different addresses.
  • Parents and relatives are not aware of the marriage.
  • Foreign national is in removal proceedings
  • Marriage soon after a divorce.
  • History of U.S. petitioner sponsoring other spousal immigrants.


INA § 237(G)(i) addresses marriage fraud and subsequent removal.

(G) Marriage fraud.-An alien shall be considered to be deportable as having procured a visa or other documentation by fraud (within the meaning of section 212(a)(6)(C)(i) ) and to be in the United States in violation of this Act (within the meaning of subparagraph (B)) if-
(i) the alien obtains any admission into the United States with an immigrant visa or other documentation procured on the basis of a marriage entered into less than 2 years prior to such entry of the alien and which, within 2 years subsequent to any admission of the alien in the United States, shall be judicially annulled or terminated, unless the alien establishes to the satisfaction of the Attorney General that such marriage was not contracted for the purpose of evading any provisions of the immigration laws, or
(ii) it appears to the satisfaction of the Attorney General that the alien has failed or refused to fulfill the alien’s marital agreement which in the opinion of the Attorney General was made for the purpose of procuring the alien’s admission as an immigrant.


Where an individual has ever previously committed immigration marriage fraud, the USCIS is statutorily barred from approving any future I-130 Petition filed on behalf of that individual under Section 204(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act:
 no petition shall be approved if (1) the alien has previously been accorded, or has sought to be accorded, an immediate relative or preference status as the spouse of a citizen of the United States or the spouse of an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence, by reason of a marriage determined by the Attorney General to have been entered into for the purpose of evading the immigration laws or (2) the Attorney General has determined that the alien has attempted or conspired to enter into a marriage for the purpose of evading the immigration laws.

The fraudulent marriage bar is very serious because it is not waivable, and there is no legal remedy to remove the bar—meaning once the non-citizen is found to have engaged in this type of fraud, she will never again be able to obtain a visa through marriage.

INA 275(c) provides:
(c) An individual who knowingly enters into a marriage for the purpose of evading any provision of the immigration laws shall be imprisoned for not more than 5 years, or fined not more than $250,000, or both.

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