What if My Spouse Used Our Marriage to Get a Green Card?


What if My Spouse Used Our Marriage to Get a Green Card?

Your spouse could be removed, or deported, from the United States, and could also face criminal prosecution. You should be aware that you too could be prosecuted, if you knew or participated in your spouse’s fraud.

Those who use a fraudulent or “sham marriage” to get around immigration laws and obtain a “green card” can be removed, or deported, from the United States, likely with no ability to return or obtain a US Visa in the future. Additionally, it is a federal crime, punishable by up to five (5) years in prison and a fine up to $25,000, to engage in such a sham marriage, and that punishment can be applied to both parties to the marriage.  

The Department of Homeland Security takes any attempt to circumvent immigration laws very seriously, and marriage-based green cards are issued initially on a conditional basis for only two (2) years. Before or even after that two (2) year mark, the Department may conduct an investigation, through the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Bureau (ICE), when a report of a sham marriage is submitted. Those investigations generally begin with the parties to the marriage, and requests for documentation and information from the parties, but they can also include interviews with numerous sources, including friends, neighbors, family members, and others. 

The Bureau recognizes, and the system that judges these cases accepts, that people marry for many reasons and that legitimate marriages do fail. “Bad” marriages are necessarily fraudulent. The essence of the inquiry is if the parties married with the intention of entering into a lasting and committed relationship. If it can be demonstrated that one party had no such intention at the time of the marriage, but merely wanted to use the marriage as a means to obtaining a green card, the perpetrator of the sham may face the severe consequences noted above. Moreover, that investigation may be conducted at any time after the green card application has been made, even after a permanent green card has been issued. 

If you have questions about your marriage and the immigration consequences that may be involved, please contact LaMonaca Law, where we can help you to work through these issues.

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About the author

About Lawrence Welsh

A funny thing happened to Larry (Lawrence C. Welsh) on the way to his professional career in the practice of law. After graduating from college and before entering law school, he took an extended tour through the hospitality industry, working his way through both the service and business sides of hotels, restaurants and resorts in six states and the District of Columbia. Taking the business acumen and the ever-watchful attention to detail so well-honed during that experience into his lifelong passion to practice law has led Larry to his position as Chief Legal Counsel and head of the firm’s Forensic Support Team. Before joining the firm, Larry worked in the public defender’s office, through which he added an array of advocacy skills and trial experience to his resume. Since joining the firm in 2003, Larry has handled a full range of family law issues, which he continues to do, while lending experience and direction to others in the firm, particularly where and when the resources of the Forensic Support Team are most appropriate. Larry is also licensed in New Jersey, and he leads the firm’s New Jersey team operations. Larry is a multi-year “Top Lawyer” honoree in Main Line Today magazine, and he has been named as an “Awesome/Top Attorney” for family law and divorce in Suburban Life Magazine. Larry is an active member of the bar associations and family law sections of Delaware County, Chester County, and the state of Pennsylvania.