Gaining American citizenship, or even the right to live in the U.S. permanently, is a difficult process. Some immigrants obtain a green card by marrying an American citizen. This is not an easy route, as the government scrutinizes marriages between citizens and immigrants. Even when the marriage is genuine, the couple will be subjected to a long period of investigation. For those who enter into a sham marriage, the stakes are even higher.
Dangers for the Innocent Immigrant
Foreigners have been lured to the U.S. with promises of marriage and green cards. Typically, the victims of this crime are young girls. When they arrive in America, they find that the promise of marriage was a lie. Many of these girls are sold into prostitution or slavery. They find themselves lost in a foreign country with little hope of rescue.
Dangers for the Innocent Citizen
Sometimes it is the American who is conned into marriage by an attractive foreigner. The citizen believes that the marriage is genuine, but perhaps the immigrant is only out for a green card and access to their spouse’s bank account. This is doubly dangerous, because it can be hard to determine the immigrant’s true motives and because the innocent citizen may be accused of a crime that they did not commit.
Dangers for the Innocent Couple
A couple who enters into an authentic marriage will have to put up with scrutiny by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services. The paperwork is complex, but it usually isn’t too hard for the genuine couple to prove their relationship. That’s because they have proof, like photographs, that they have traveled together and met each other’s families. They can also show financial documents and records that attest to their relationship. If their attachment is sincere, then they have little to worry about.
Dangers for the Culpable Couple
A pair who enter into a marriage solely to obtain a green card have the most to fear. Fines of up to $250,000 are possible, and the culpable citizen may be looking at five years in prison. The immigrant can expect to be deported. Usually, USCIS has little trouble rooting out the couples who have intentionally entered into a fraudulent marriage. The lack of evidence of their relationship and their lack of intimate knowledge of each other usually unmasks them. Considering the penalties, it’s best to avoid entering a green card marriage.