It’s easy to get a green card when marriage to a United States citizen is involved, but there is substantial official concern about this aspect of the green card process. Because of this, the penalties for a fake “green card marriage” are severe, and that attracts the attention of media outlets when these kinds of cases occur.


Take, for example, the publicity in a recent case where a woman was sentenced to federal prison for 120 months and pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines for helping to orchestrate over 40 fake green card marriages.


Before you think of entering into a fake marriage to help someone get a green card, it’s a good idea to understand what consequences you can face for these actions. Read on to find out more about fake marriage and immigration law.


Why Even Bother With a Fake Marriage?


Why does a sham immigration marriage appeal to some people? Simple: immigrating to the United States is really difficult. A person who wishes to come to the U.S. may not have sought after job skills or close relations in the States who can sponsor them.


However, if you marry a U.S. citizen, you are considered an immediate relative – and it is wmuch to get married than to go through the immigration process. This leads many people to attempt to find a citizen to marry – either by paying a stranger or asking a friend to do them a favor.


Unfortunately, these marriages are considered fraudulent by the United States government, and marriage fraud is one of their biggest enforcement priorities.


Marriage Fraud Defined


Marriage fraud under United States Immigration law states that a person will be denied status if they marry someone for the purpose of sidestepping immigration laws. If the sole purpose of the marriage is to get a green card for the person wishing to come to the United States, then the government sees it as fraud.


How Does the Government Find Out?


It may seem easy to fake a marriage, but the government is very good at uncovering marriage fraud. They make those applying for a green card prove they entered into the marriage in good faith – in other words, the couple meant to establish a real life together.


Authorities pay particular attention to marriages that have existed for less than two years from green card approval or the person entering the U.S. with an immigrant visa. People must submit a new application within 90 days of the end of the two-year period to prove their marriage is real.


Even if couples make it through this process, their relationship can be scrutinized at any time – and certainly will be again if the immigrant in the relationship applies for citizenship.


How Much Trouble Can You Get In?


If you are found guilty of marriage fraud as a citizen, you can go to prison for up to five years and pay steep fines. The immigrant will be deported or have their temporary visa revoked. They will also have a stain on their immigration record that can influence any future attempts to get a green card or another visa.