It is estimated that over 12 mln immigrants live in the United States illegally. Generally, two broad types of crimes are associated with immigration. These are document fraud and benefit fraud which frequently overlap. Let us delve deeper into these types.
Also known as identity theft, this type includes counterfeiting, altering, selling, buying and/or using counterfeit documents to circumvent the US immigration laws. The list of documents includes passports, visas, birth certificates, marriage certificates, death certificates and a lot more. Those who assist non-citizens in preparing fake documents are subject to fines, imprisonment and prohibition from preparing such kind of documents in future. Non-citizens may additionally be charged with such crimes as conspiracy, making false statements and others and subsequently be deported from the United States.
Non-citizens might fall into the trap of using the services related to filing immigration documents without actually obtaining them in the end. Recently, the State Department’s Office of Visa Services issued a public warning against fraudsters that send out misleading emails claiming that the email recipient has won the DV lottery. Scammers ask recipients to transfer money to pay a proceedings fee. However, the US government never notifies winners in no way other than online via the official DV lottery website. Besides, the fee is paid directly in the US embassy or consulate.
This is misrepresentation of a fact with the purpose of qualifying for immigration benefits. The most common types of benefit fraud are marriage fraud, concealing the fact of having committed a crime when claiming the status of lawful permanent resident, employment-based immigration fraud, and claiming to have been continuously living in the US for the time being sufficient to naturalize.
In accordance with the US law, spouses of US citizens are granted permanent residency. That is the basis of numerous investigations and prosecutions which resulted in a lot of non-US citizens being deported and those proved to have helped them getting charged with marriage swindle, which is one of the most common types of immigration qualification fraud.
Both non-citizen and a US citizen who enter into a sham marriage may be subject to penalties. The criminal penalties for the non-citizen may be up to 5 years of imprisonment and/or a fine of up to 250,000 USD. Besides, their current visa will be revoked and the person will be removed from the US. Besides, the person may not be eligible for receiving a US visa and a green card in the future. As for the penalties for the US citizen, the person will also be subject to imprisonment and fine. If he or she is not actually a citizen but a permanent resident, their status might be revoked and they can subsequently be deported too.
We strongly discourage immigrants from marrying a US citizen in order to get a green card and US citizens from marrying a non-US citizen for other purpose than creating a family. This is a serious crime. In case you found yourself under investigation for marriage fraud by NYC immigration enforcement authorities, don’t hesitate to contact a criminal defense attorney in New York.
In case you are under investigation, you surely need to be cautious not to speak to an immigration enforcement representative before consulting a lawyer. Just ask for their contacts and tell you will get in touch as soon as you contact your lawyer. Don’t disclose any information or related documents, as these may later be used against you. The next step would be contacting a lawyer.
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