Law Offices of Christie A. Leary P.C.

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In Virginia and across the nation, the topic of immigration has become so hotly debated that every aspect of it has come under scrutiny. One method that has been used for immigration fraud for many years to allow people to stay in the United States in a violation of the spirit of the law is if an American citizen marries a foreign national. Marriage fraud is a form of benefit fraud. Allegations of this can lead to serious issues for the citizen if the person is found guilty of having committed the act.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigates these acts through Homeland Security. In recent years, numerous conspiracies have been discovered. With marriage fraud, there are numerous ways in which it is committed. A citizen of the U.S. might receive compensation to marry a foreign person. A person might be ordered via the mail. There could be a fraudulent marriage to receive a visa. A person from a foreign country might defraud a U.S. citizen into believing that the marriage is a legitimate one.

If there is a conviction on charges of staging a marriage to commit immigration fraud, there will be significant penalties for the U.S. citizen as well as the person who was trying to gain legal residence. Marriage fraud is a felony and a conviction can lead to a possible prison sentence of five years and a fine of as much as $250,000. This is for both parties separately. There could be other charges including visa fraud, harboring an illegal alien, presenting false statements and conspiracy. Additional penalties can be sentenced for these additional charges.

For a person who is confronted with an investigation and allegations of immigration fraud, the most important factor to the resolution might be the legal assistance the person receives. Seeking legal advice as soon as possible is imperative.

Source: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, "Identity and Benefit Fraud - Marriage Fraud," accessed on Mar. 2, 2015

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