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Effect of a Prior Sham Marriage on Future Marriages

Last updated on Jul 20th, 2017

Marriage fraud can have a number of bad consequences on the immigrant who intends to benefit from it. Anyone who is thinking about engaging in marriage fraud or has entered a marriage which may appear to be fraudulent to a USCIS adjudicator should, at the very least, consult with an immigration attorney.

However, the truth is that many people will get away with marriage fraud. Many immigrants will receive a Green Card, receive citizenship, and go on to live happily ever after in the US, because of marriage fraud. However, it is also true that many people are caught.

For this reason, it is important to know some of the consequences of a sham marriage.

Here is just one:

When an American citizen marries a non-citizen, the citizen can file a Form I–130,  to petition the government to recognize the non-citizen (the beneficiary) as a legal permanent resident. The couple has the burden to persuade the government that, when they married, they intended to establish a life together. However, separate from the couple’s burden, the government must deny the petition if it finds that the non-citizen ever entered into a sham marriage. All prior marriages can be considered, and if the government finds that any one of them is fraudulent, the beneficiary is forever barred from receiving an immigration benefit through marriage. This is a statutory bar that cannot be avoided.

The beneficiary need not have been prosecuted or convicted of marriage fraud, and the government may look at all relevant evidence. If the government identifies substantial and probative evidence of marriage fraud, then the burden shifts to the couple to show otherwise.

This is just one undesirable consequence that follows from a sham marriage.  There are others; nonetheless, sham marriages will probably never end. Whether someone engages in a sham marriage is entirely their choice, but to do so without knowledge of all the consequences that follow from a sham marriage is foolhardy.

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