Is Marriage The Only Way To Obtain Permanent Residency?

By Published On: May 11, 2023Categories: Vlog, Green Card

Spanish Video Above Translated In English Below

Many marriages in the United States are between people of different races or ethnicities, celebrating diversity. Over the last decade, immigration authorities approved thousands of Green Card applications based on marital relationships. Included in these statistics are some people who resort to fraudulent marriage for easy access to permanent residency.

However, the question remains: is marriage a fast lane to obtain a Green Card? Read on to learn whether it is the only option for permanent residency and discover the consequences of fraudulent matrimony. Find out how an immigration lawyer can help you deal with the situation.

Find Out How An Immigration Lawyer Can Help Your Obtain Permanent Residency Through Marriage

Fraudulent Marriage & Its Consequences

Getting into a fraudulent marriage may tempt some people as a shortcut to permanent residency in the United States. However, it is crucial to understand that such an act can lead to severe consequences.

There are many cases where people get married primarily for immigration benefits. Lawyers often come across young couples who have only lived together briefly. Some people even propose to a U.S. citizen stranger to get married on paper. Although immigration may be a motivating factor for marriage, it must not be the sole reason.

You must consider the repercussions of a fraudulent union. Engaging in such activity can result in a five-year sentence in prison with a fine of up to $250,000.

The risks involved are also not worth the temporary gains. It is crucial to consider the long-term implications and the potential harm it can cause all parties involved. Therefore, understanding how the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) detects a deceptive marriage is essential. Doing so will help individuals to safeguard themselves against potential legal troubles.

Detecting False Marriages

When lawyers encounter a petitioner who has had multiple marriages and filed for many immigrants before, it raises suspicions. A system might be at play, manipulating the adjustment of the status process. In such cases, caution becomes imperative.

Clients sometimes confess their true intentions—marrying solely for immigration papers without intending to live together. They acknowledge this reality and hold open conversations to address the potential consequences.

Immigration authorities scrutinize couples for any disparities that could hint at fraudulent marriages. They can investigate differences in age, religion, or living arrangements. Suppose one partner works as a truck driver or in a job with extended periods away, and they live in different cities. Suspicions of a fraudulent marriage may arise.

Proving Genuine Unions

Substantial documents are required when applying for an adjustment of status based on marriage. Some cases may lead to interviews with immigration officials. During these discussions, officers meticulously examine the evidence. 

The most significant proof includes shared financial accounts and joint leases or mortgages. It also consists of the ultimate testimony of a genuine union—having children together. When sufficient evidence is present, interviews are smooth and brief, lasting 15 to 20 minutes. 

Questions revolve around how you met and whether your parents attended the wedding. However, when suspicions of fraud arise, immigration officials take a more rigorous approach. During the interview, officers may separate you and compare your answers. Inconsistent responses may lead to case denials and potential charges for marriage fraud.

After a rigorous process and when you pass the interview, you may be issued a Conditional Green Card. However, you may wonder if it is the same as a permanent resident card. If not, how does it differ from the regular one?

Conditional Green Card Based On Marriage

A Conditional Green Card does not automatically indicate a fraudulent or suspicious marriage. Immigration authorities give it to individuals who have been married for less than two years at their residency approval. It is a standard procedure for the USCIS. 

Conditional residency is a temporary legal status granted based on marriage or investment. It comes with conditions that you must meet to maintain the residency. For instance, in marriage-based cases, you and your spouse must prove the genuineness of your relationship to transition to lawful permanent residents. Otherwise, it can be revoked.

Since this conditional residency lasts two years or before your Green Card expires, you must submit additional evidence. It can be your joint bank account, proving the legitimacy of your marriage. You can provide all the necessary proofs through mail.   

In situations where couples have separated or divorced, there is no need to worry. There is a high success rate in handling cases to remove conditions for those who no longer live together. Even if the couple has separated, it is possible to prove that the union was genuine.

To fully comprehend this, it is vital to grasp the consequences of marrying for documents. With such an understanding, individuals can avoid jeopardizing their legal status or facing severe repercussions.

Addressing Legal Implications Of Marriage Fraud

Suppose immigration discovers you only married for documents after obtaining a Green Card. You may wonder, can residency be revoked? The answer is yes. Especially if it is within five years after approval, there can be significant consequences. 

Certain groups act as intermediaries, offering fraudulent marriage certificates and documents to connect petitioners with beneficiaries in arranged marriages. Authorities may investigate such groups and identify specific document patterns linked to their services. 

Participating in such schemes can result in severe consequences if authorities uncover the deception. Therefore, avoiding involvement is crucial to safeguard residency status and prevent legal complications. It is also essential to understand the investigation process for marriage fraud to ensure compliance and protection.

Marriage Fraud Investigations

The agency Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) handles the investigation process for marriage fraud. They operate under the Department of Homeland Security. HSI assigns cases to detectives who work similarly to police officers. 

Discover The Importance Of Working With Immigration Lawyers To Solve Your Permanent Residence And You're Married

These detectives have the authority to visit the address where the couple claims to live. They may conduct surprise visits, even knocking on the door at early hours, like four in the morning.

During these investigations, they check if the couple lives together and shares a household. They have various ways to gather evidence and verify the legitimacy of the marriage. Sometimes, they collect printed photos from the couple’s social media accounts. They also trace their dating history and relationship timeline.

Considering the seriousness of the investigation process, individuals need to be cautious and truthful in these matters. Therefore, it is crucial to have genuine relationships and provide accurate information during the immigration process.

Work With A Dependable Immigration Lawyer

Securing permanent residency necessitates collaboration with an immigration attorney, as navigating the process alone can be complex. Engaging in a fraudulent marriage carries severe and enduring consequences. It can involve complications in the rectification of immigration papers in the future. Therefore, seeking legal guidance is crucial for a smoother and legitimate immigration journey.

Ensuring a clean immigration history is vital for future adjustments through family or employment cases. However, fixing documents becomes challenging if someone has a mark of fraud or criminal record. In such circumstances, a dependable immigration lawyer becomes invaluable. 


Some people think getting into a fraudulent marriage can help them get residency, but it has severe consequences. It is crucial to learn that other options exist to obtain legal status. Honesty and following the correct procedures are essential to navigate the immigration system successfully and avoid jeopardizing future opportunities. 

Understanding the risks of fraudulent marriage and how the USCIS detects it can help individuals make informed decisions. You must remember that it is crucial to prioritize genuine relationships and avoid deceitful practices. Therefore, seeking assistance from trustworthy lawyers is essential to ensure a smooth immigration process.

If you have additional questions about your marriage or permanent resdency, 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 FacebookYouTube 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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