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Why is marriage fraud a big deal?

Most immigrants and citizens of Florida are aware of the possibility of gaining legal immigration status by marriage. As it’s been pointed out in previous posts on this blog, after obtaining temporary legal status in the United States, most immigrants have the option of adjusting their status to seek permanent residency or eventual citizenship. Getting married is one of several avenues to achieve this end; however, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, a U.S. citizen or legal resident’s marriage to a foreign national must be a valid union, or it is considered to be marriage immigration fraud.

As you can expect, some immigrants take advantage of the system for the sole purpose of gaining residency status, when many others enter into genuine marriages. How can marriage fraud be harmful? An immigrant who has tricked a citizen into thinking the marriage is real may gain access to the spouse’s bank account, retirement accounts and identity information, causing devastating personal harm. People with criminal intent, such as terrorists or thieves, may also come into the country illegally through a fraudulent marriage.

In addition to being tricked into a false marriage, citizens may also be coerced into such unions by accepting money or believing they would be doing someone a favor without thinking they’re doing anything wrong. Many others knowingly aid immigrants in this way.

The penalties for marriage immigration fraud are severe, and can implicate U.S. citizens as well as immigrants. They include prison time of up to five years and a fine of up to $250,000. The information here is not meant to be taken as legal advice, but should instead serve as general information on this aspect of immigration law.

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