One way for a non-citizen of the U.S. to obtain permanent residency status, commonly known as a green card, is to have an immediate family member who is a citizen petition on his or her behalf. Often, this immediate relative is a husband or wife who is either a citizen by birth or naturalized.
Many married couples are able to live together in the U.S. due to this rule. Unfortunately, not all of the marriages that form the basis for a green card petition are legitimate. Sometimes, the marriage is a pretext, and the spouses do not share their lives upon the non-citizen’s receiving of the green card.
Using marriage as a tool to bring immigrants to this country illegally is against the law. It can also be costly for the would-be immigrants, who may have to pay a large sum of money, only to risk deportation later.
Recently, federal prosecutors charged 27 South Florida residents with comprising a marriage fraud ring. Authorities say the defendants charged up to thousands of dollars to people looking to come to the U.S. from May 2011 to February 2014. The defendants allegedly lured in people from around the world; countries of origin named by the Associated Press include Argentina, Ukraine and Israel.
If convicted, the defendants could serve from five to 10 years in prison.
Convincing the U.S. government that your spouse should be able to live and work in this country can be complicated. The help of an experienced immigration attorney can make a big difference.