Marriage Immigration Fraud Scheme Brings Federal Criminal Charges
In another stark reminder that marriage immigration fraud is a serious criminal matter and never works out, the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina charged 11 suspects with serious federal crimes. The charges stem from an alleged marriage immigration fraud scheme by which foreign nationals entered into sham marriages with US soldiers based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Through this scheme the foreign nationals received permanent residence based upon the sham marriages and the US soldiers received Basic Allowance for Housing to live off base.
HALLMARKS OF A MARRIAGE IMMIGRATION FRAUD SCHEME
The charging document highlights common elements of a marriage immigration fraud scheme. For example, the participants allegedly orchestrated photos to make the marriages appear legitimate. The ring leader recruited additional soldiers into the scheme to engage in sham marriages. Additionally, several defendants allegedly prepared false statements and provided those to the USCIS in support of the sham marriages.
Whether a large group or an individual case, sham marriages for immigration purposes are illegal. The USCIS employs many resources to detect fraudulent marriages. Common red flags of marriage immigration fraud are suspicious affidavits and photographs, which were present in this case as well.
CRIMINAL CONSEQUENCES OF IMMIGRATION FRAUD
In this case the charging document illustrates the serious penalties federal prosecutors seek for alleged immigration fraud. The crimes charged include Marriage Fraud, Harboring and Transporting Aliens, Visa Fraud, Obstruction, False Statements in Immigration Matters, and Conspiracy. These crimes carry individual penalties ranging from 5 years to 25 years in prison. Thus, if an applicant for permanent residency thinks that immigration fraud is not something that the USCIS and Department of Homeland Security will bother with, this case is proof they will and do. Of course, adjustment or visa applicants in good faith marriages have nothing to fear.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Attorney Richard Ruth is a US immigration attorney in Gainesville Florida with over 25 years of experience in US immigration matters. He also offers personal US Immigration consultations in Oslo, Norway and Prague, Czech Republic during portions of the year when he is present in those cities. He represents clients throughout the United States and world with US employment and family immigration matters or US citizenship applications. For assistance with your US immigration law questions or issues you can e-mail Attorney Richard Ruth at [email protected].