If I have a legitimate marriage, why do I need an immigration attorney to help me apply for a Green Card? A Case Study

by Anthony Mance, Esq. and Jennifer A. Grady, Esq.

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One of the most direct paths to a Green Card is by marriage to an American citizen. However, Permanent Residency is by no means guaranteed, even when the marriage is legitimate. Discovering sham marriages is a top enforcement priority of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). When a couple enters into a sham marriage for the purposes of committing immigration fraud, not only can the application be denied, but the U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident spouse can face up to five years in prison and/or a $250,000 fine.

Even if the immigrants themselves are not prosecuted criminally, they will in all likelihood simply be deported (removed) and never allowed to return to the United States, even if they later enter into a real marriage with a U.S. citizen. In order to distinguish a legitimate marriage from a sham marriage, it is crucial to work with an attorney to ensure that DHS is able to approve your Green Card application based on the evidence supporting the marriage’s legitimacy. The following case example illustrates the importance of this matter. Continue reading