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.