Can Green Card Marriage Fraud Lead To Deportation?

By Published On: April 7, 2023Categories: Vlog, Deportation, Green Card

Marriage fraud is a commonly discussed issue in immigration. It is essential to understand that this is a severe offense that could have significant consequences. Various suspicions of fraudulent marriages for immigration benefits swirl around celebrities such as Justin and Hailey Bieber. But outside the headlines, it’s an issue that immigrants and their lawyers encounter daily.

Here, you will learn the possible implications of entering into a sham or fraudulent marriage. Discover what information USCIS uses when deciding whether a marriage is in good faith and how an immigration lawyer helps in navigating the complex immigration process. 

Deportation Risks For Green Card Marriage Fraud

Understanding Fraudulent Marriages

Fraudulent marriages, also known as “fake” marriages, have become a concern recently. These unions are created solely to obtain immigration benefits or financial gain. One key indicator of this is the absence of a genuine intent to establish a marital relationship.

In these cases, individuals may enter marriage solely to obtain immigration benefits, such as legal residency or citizenship. Often, no emotional or romantic foundation supports the union. This makes it relatively easy to identify as fraudulent.

Another sign of a fake marriage is the significant disparity in background and characteristics between the two parties involved. This could include age, nationality, language, or socioeconomic status differences. When these factors are unreasonably mismatched, it raises suspicion about the true nature of the marriage. 

Moreover, fraudulent marriages are a legal concern and a matter of morality. They undermine the integrity of the institution of marriage and compromise the rights of victims of such unions. Authorities employ various measures to identify and investigate fraudulent marriages. These include interviews with both spouses, scrutiny of supporting documentation, and conducting background checks.

If a union’s legitimacy is questioned, legal consequences may follow. It can result from deportation to imprisonment, depending on the severity of the offense. Understanding fraudulent marriages is crucial for safeguarding the institution’s integrity. It also ensures that immigration benefits are granted to those who truly deserve them.

The Difference Between Sham & Fraudulent Marriages

While “sham marriage” and “fraudulent marriage” are often used interchangeably, there are subtle differences between the two. A sham marriage is a union primarily entered into to evade immigration laws. It may involve one or both parties agreeing to a marriage solely for immigration benefits. Any genuine marital relationship is absent. The motive is to gain legal residency or citizenship in a particular country.

A fraudulent marriage, meanwhile, encompasses a broader range of deceptive practices. It can include entering a marriage for financial gain. It can also refer to accessing an individual’s assets or economic benefits. Additionally, fraudulent marriages can involve cases where one party conceals essential information. They may misrepresent their background or intentions.

While both sham and fraudulent marriages involve deception, the key distinction lies in the motivations behind the unions. Sham marriages primarily focus on immigration benefits. Meanwhile, fraudulent marriages encompass a more comprehensive range of deceitful intentions, including financial gain.

Evidence Of A Good Faith Marriage

When it comes to immigration or legal matters, providing evidence of a good-faith marriage is crucial. This refers to entering a marriage with genuine intent and not for fraudulent purposes. 

The following are some commonly accepted forms of evidence that can support the claim of a bona fide relationship.

  • Joint financial obligations and responsibilities: These primarily demonstrate a commitment to building a life together. They include joint bank accounts, shared bills, or joint property ownership. Additionally, documentation illustrating joint ventures, such as mortgage agreements, can prove a sincere marital relationship.
  • Proof of cohabitation: Providing documents like lease agreements or utility bills shows spouses sharing a typical residence. This can mean that they genuinely live together as a married couple.
  • Testimonies from family and friends: They should vouch for the relationship’s legitimacy and carry significant weight. Letters of support, affidavits, or photographs capturing moments of shared family events can demonstrate the genuine bond between the couple. 
  • Also, any evidence of joint plans for the future, such as travel itineraries or standard insurance policies, can reinforce the authenticity of the marriage.

By providing ample evidence of a good-faith marriage, individuals can help authorities determine the legitimacy of their union for legal and immigration purposes. It is essential to gather and present a diverse range of documents and testimonies. They should collectively paint a clear picture of a genuine relationship.

Consequences Of Fraudulent Marriage

From a legal standpoint, the consequences can vary depending on the severity of the offense. Authorities may investigate and identify fraudulent marriages through interviews, document scrutiny, and background checks. Guilty individuals can face deportation, imprisonment, and even criminal charges. 

The penalties can also extend to monetary fines and limitations on future immigration benefits. The personal consequences of a fraudulent marriage can be significant as well. These unions often lack the emotional and romantic foundation that defines genuine relationships. 

Consequently, people may find themselves trapped in an unfulfilling or unhappy marriage. The deceit and betrayal of trust can also strain relationships with family and friends. It can often lead to social isolation and emotional turmoil.

Fraudulent marriages harm the individuals involved and have broader implications for society. They weaken the credibility of legal immigration systems and create barriers for those seeking legitimate immigration benefits.

Marrying A U.S. Citizen To Obtain A Green Card

In the United States, marrying a U.S. citizen does not automatically grant an individual a Green Card. The process involves a series of legal procedures that must be followed meticulously. The U.S. citizen must first file a petition, Form I-130, with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to establish a relationship with their spouse. Once the petition is approved, the non-citizen spouse can process the Green Card application.

USCIS takes marriage fraud very seriously. Any attempts to enter a fraudulent marriage solely to obtain permanent residency can lead to severe criminal charges. They may face deportation and even permanent ineligibility for any future immigration benefits. The application process can also be time-consuming and complex. There may also be considerable waiting periods before a Green Card is granted.

Renewing A Green Card & Traveling Abroad With A Criminal Record

A Green Card is generally valid for ten years and allows the holder to work and live in the United States. If the individual has a criminal history and still holds a Green Card, they can renew it if their criminal record does not make them deportable. However, if USCIS discovers that the individual has committed a deportable offense, the agency might refer the matter to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for deportation.

A criminal history does not automatically preclude one from obtaining a Green Card or citizenship. However, it depends on the nature of the crime. In cases where the criminal history would make the applicant deportable, it may result in removal proceedings and, at times, a ban on future immigration benefits.

If an applicant with a criminal record travels abroad, re-entry into the United States may be denied. This is especially true if the criminal history would make the applicant inadmissible.

Deportation Possibilities In Green Card Marriage Fraud

Effect On Citizenship Application

An individual entering a fraudulent marriage solely to obtain citizenship is considered a severe offense. USCIS thoroughly investigates marriage-based applications to ensure authenticity. One may face various consequences if a marriage is found to be fraudulent. They may include denial of the citizenship application, revocation of existing immigration benefits, and possible deportation or removal proceedings. 

Moreover, an individual may be permanently barred from obtaining future immigration benefits. To avoid the severe repercussions of a fraudulent marriage, it is essential to approach the citizenship application process with honesty and integrity. Seek help from an experienced immigration lawyer. They can help you determine a suitable path to take and guide you in navigating the process. 


Marriage fraud is a severe offense that could have significant consequences for immigrants and U.S. citizens. Marrying a citizen can provide an opportunity to obtain a Green Card and establish lawful permanent residence in the United States. However, this pathway entails a rigorous legal process. Any attempts to deceive the authorities through a fraudulent union can have severe consequences.

If you have additional questions about your immigration case, or your specific case, you may contact us at (855) 502-0555. After a brief 10-minute evaluation of your case over the phone, we will let you know what options you have. You can also follow us on our social networks so you don’t miss our weekly broadcasts on Facebook, YouTube and Twitch.

About the Author: Kate Lincoln-Goldfinch

I am the managing partner of Lincoln-Goldfinch Law. Upon graduating from the University of Texas for college and law school, I received an Equal Justice Works Fellowship in 2008, completed at American Gateways. My project served the detained families seeking asylum. After my fellowship, I entered private immigration practice. My firm offers family-based immigration, such as green cards and naturalization, deportation defense, and humanitarian cases such as asylum, U Visa, and VAWA. Everyone at Lincoln-Goldfinch Law is bilingual, has a connection to our cause, and has demonstrated a history of activism for immigrants. To us, our work is not just a job.

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