Is it Really True Love?

By:  Dennis E. Chua, Esq.

A person who was lawfully admitted to the United States but who failed to maintain  lawful nonimmigrant status may still obtain permanent residency if he or she gets married to a US citizen.  After the marriage, they  may  file a concurrent immigrant petition and application for adjustment of status  with the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) to be able to get  the green card.
In one’s desire to quickly get permanent residency, some have resorted to entering into  fixed marriages or marriages for convenience.  Whatever be the motivation of the parties in entering into this type of arrangement, it still amounts to marriage fraud if at the time of the celebration of the marriage, the parties had no intention of fulfilling the duties and obligations of a husband or wife.    Even if the only reason for entering into a fixed marriage was a sincere desire to help the other party and no monetary consideration was given to the US citizen spouse, this will not justify the contracting of such marriage and make the fraudulent marriage a valid one for immigration purposes.

Contracting a sham marriage has serious consequences.  For one, the beneficiary of the fraudulent marriage petition will forever be barred from receiving any immigration benefit.   To illustrate, John a US citizen married Jenny after being  paid  $10,000 by Jenny.  After the marriage, John and Jenny continued to live apart from each other.  They had no intention of living together at the time they got married and the only reason for their marriage was for Jenny to get her green card.  After their interview before the USCIS, the officer found their marriage to be a sham one and denied the petition.  Jenny subsequently found true love when she met Gary who is also a US citizen.  Gary later filed a petition for Jenny but because of the previous finding of marriage fraud, the USCIS denied Gary’s petition for Jenny.
Aside from the serious immigration consequences of marriage fraud, the government can criminally prosecute the parties, and once found guilty, the commission of the crime carries a penalty of five years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.

The USCIS has recently stepped up its fight against marriage fraud.  The USCIS now promptly issues Notices to Appear before the Immigration Court once a finding of marriage fraud has been made. The USCIS will have at least two opportunities to review a marriage if it is a bona fide one after one obtains his or her green card through marriage.  Once the petition is approved, the parties would still have to file a joint petition to remove the conditions of residence if the beneficiary was given conditional resident status.

Here, the USCIS will take a second look at the marriage and may subject the parties to another interview. The USCIS will have another opportunity to look into your marriage when you file for your citizenship.  The USCIS has now been looking more closely into the bona fides of a marriage even if the applicant is not applying for citizenship based on his or her marriage to a US citizen.

We have heard and seen too many cases where the USCIS has removed people because of marriage fraud.   So if it is not true love but a marriage for convenience,  better think twice before you say “I do”.

Atty. Dennis E. Chua is a partner in The Law Firm of Chua Tinsay and Vega (CTV) -  a full service law firm with offices in San Francisco, San Diego and Manila.  The information presented in this article is for general information only and is not, nor intended to be, formal legal advice nor the formation of an attorney-client relationship. Call or e-mail CTV for an in-person or phone consultation to discuss your particular situation and/or how their services may be retained at (415) 495-8088; (619) 955-6277;
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