Immigration Marriage Fraud

The threats and risks involved with the Immigration marriage frauds are multidimensional, involving comprises on personal and family levels, social level and issues of national security and integration. Marriage frauds constitute a convenient way to by-pass other wise strict visa regulations and laws, governing the flow of immigrants in US, and foreign nationals exploit its provision to gain unlawful footing in the country.

Immigration marriage and family policies Understanding the importance of strong family base for social stability and cohesion, US immigration policies were very accommodative for immigrants, with an expedient system for allotting visa to spouses and their relatives of US citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents (LPR).

Further a petitioner applying for spouse visa needed little formalities to undergo through Immigration and Neutralization Services (INS), and visa was issued merely on oral confirmation and signature of good faith by the immigrant officer (Jones, 2007). However, this apparent goodwill on part of INS emerged as a major flaw of the system and many foreign aliens, who would be otherwise ineligible to obtain US citizenship, made themselves eligible for the same by entering into fraudulent marriage.

By the middle of 1980s, With INS estimates that more than 30 percent marital petition involved fraud to gain permanent resident status in the US, thereby seriously undermining the validity and integrity of the entire visa system, it was realized that the situation required legal and policy interference by government and the efforts thereafter culminated in passing of Immigration Fraud Amendment Act in 1986 to curb rampant use of immigration laws for gaining unlawful entry in US (Jones, 1997). Immigration marriage frauds

The easy admittance to US citizenship, possible under the immigration provisions, has spawned systematic practices of marriage frauds for commercial, criminal and terrorist causes. In address to the members of Seattle media, a special agent entrusted with studying implications of marriage frauds listed following three reasons and dangers involved with marriage frauds (Depenbrock, 2004) 1. Commercial interests: Many US citizens enter into sham marriage lured by money paid by the beneficiary for obtaining US visa, committing a serious crime that involves heavy fines and penalties.

Further, marriage frauds lead to unlawful and illegal admittance of people who cast extra burden on the economy and deprive US citizens of their lawful social and economic benefits. 2. Criminal intents: Fraud marriages have also emerged as a gateway for human trafficking. 3. Terrorist threat perception: Post 9/11, the stringent US visa norms have caused terror operators to find alternate avenues to gain entry into US, and sham marriages have proved to be among most vulnerable in this enterprise.

To prevent the materialization of sham marriages and fraudulent obtaining of US visa, the US Congress instituted a number of provisions through the 1986 amendment. Some of the principle issues on which special scrutiny is recommended are (Campbell, 2007): •    Events of marriage, divorce, death claim and other formalities taking place in rapid •    Age difference of 10 or more years between the couple. •    Cases that involve prior marriage of the petitioner to aliens or the cases involving where aliens have formerly married a US citizen or a lawful permanent resident.

•    Cases involving marriage taking place outside the religious, ethnic or national group. •    Cases involving marriage with alien whose entry is not inspected. •    Cases where the witness to marriage belong to the same nationality or ethnicity as the marrying couple. •    Cases where the petitioner and beneficiary furnish different address. Also cases where beneficiary left US briefly after the marriage. •    Cases involving confidential marriage where no marriage record is kept. •    Cases where the beneficiary has minors dependent upon them, and residing abroad.

•    Cases where identification of the petitioner could not be ascertained. •    Cases where the application is supported by excessive documentation on behalf of beneficiary by people other than spouse However, so far these laws have not been completely effective in containing immigration marriage frauds that has continued to become a major policy problem for the government.


James A. Jones. The Immigration Marriage Fraud Amendments: Sham Marriages Or Sham Legislation?. Accessed online on 31. 05. 2007.