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Nine Red Flags that Point to Immigration Fraud

Immigration is the topic of heated debates throughout the United States. From illegal immigration and border security to the status of DACA DREAMers, the issues related to immigration are highly polarizing. One immigration issue that does not receive much press, but continues to be closely investigated by government agencies is immigration fraud related to visas and green card application based on marriage to a U.S. citizen.

Our New York State white collar crimes attorney discusses several of the red flags that might indicate immigration fraud related to marriage-based green cards and visas. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or the U.S State Department carefully and thoroughly investigate each application for residency based on marriage. However, when these red flags are detected, government officials become highly interested in the case because they view these factors as indicators of potential immigration fraud.

Nine Red Flags That Raise Significant Questions for Government Officials in Marriage-Based Green Card Cases

  1. The parties cannot communicate with each other. When the couple does not share a language, how can they build a lasting relationship? It is extremely difficult to share a life together if you cannot communicate because you do not speak a common language.
  2.  The parties do not share a common address. After a couple is married, they typically live together in the same home. If a couple does not live together, especially if they live in different states or countries, the parties need to have an extremely convincing reason for the separation.
  3.  The marriage is in secret. If the parties fail to tell their family and friend about the marriage, it could be because their family and friends would know the marriage is a farce or because the party knows the marriage is not going to last very long.
  4. The parties marry within days or weeks after the first meeting. Some couples proclaim love at first sight and marry within a very short time after meeting each other for the first time. However, when you have a couple from different countries, a quick marriage could indicate a reason other than love for the marriage.
  5.  Evidence of a joint relationship is “manufactured” immediately before a meeting. A couple usually merges their personal and financial lives when they get married. However, if the couple opens joint bank accounts, credit card accounts, utility bills, and other financial accounts within weeks of the interview date, the government may view the “evidence” as an attempt to convince the agent that parties are not committing immigration fraud.
  6.  Extreme difference in age. An extreme difference in age may not be an indication of immigration fraud by itself. However, when you combine this red flag with other red flags, it could be an indication that a party is more interested in being paid or receiving a green card than in developing a loving, permanent marital relationship.
  7. The timing of the marriage is too convenient. When a couple is married immediately before a green card expires or the government identifies an undocumented person, a government agent may suspect immigration fraud instead of a coincidence.
  8. History of crimes and fraud. If the U.S. citizen has a long criminal history, especially crimes involving fraud, the agents may look more closely at the marriage to determine if immigration fraud needs to be added to the person’s criminal history.
  9. Lack of personal information. An agent may ask spouses intimate and detailed questions about each other, including whether they have tattoos that are not exposed or how often they have sex. Who spends more time in the bathroom or who takes out the garbage more often? Intimate questions are a way for agents to search for signs of immigration fraud.

Contact a New York State Criminal Defense Attorney If You Have Questions

The above list is not an exhaustive list of all the red flags government agents look for when investigating a couple for marriage fraud. If you are being investigated or you are charged with immigration fraud, a New York State criminal defense attorney can help you understand your legal rights and defense options. Schedule a consult with one of our skilled white-collar criminal defense attorney at Mark J. Sacco today for a free consultation.

Posted in: White Collar Crime