Family-Based Immigration

Marriage Fraud Hurts All Immigrants

Recently, a JBER Soldier and his foreign national wife were found by the DOJ to have engaged in a fraudulent marriage scheme that involved applying and obtaining dependent and immigration benefits from the federal government.  The couple fabricated evidence to show they were in a real marriage and misrepresented their relationship in forms submitted to the USCIS to obtain immigration benefits for the foreign national.  Meanwhile, the Soldier sought financial benefits of having a dependent spouse by applying and receiving over $92K in housing and dependent allowances despite the couple never having lived together.  Unfortunately, this all-too-common story plays out repeatedly in the Departments of Defense, Homeland Defense, and sometimes State: Military member meets or is recruited by foreign national looking to circumvent the Immigration and Nationality Act by obtaining immigration benefits for which the foreign national may not be entitled.  In return for participating in the scheme, the military member receives financial benefits such as cash or property from the foreign national as well as family benefits from the DOD.  Oftentimes these cases take months and years of undercover investigation, but when they are finally reported in the media post-conviction or via plea agreement, you can hear an audible and collective groan from the immigration law community.  Abuses of our immigration laws such as engaging in marriage fraud hurt honest immigrant applicants by casting unfair doubt and suspicion on all military marriages involving a foreign national spouse.  The outcome of these abuses means immigrant military couples must produce evidence of marriage bona fides over and above what would be expected from the average petitioner and beneficiary.  These cases further serve to validate the need for a cautious, detailed, and thorough approach by immigration lawyers when building client petition packets.  Clients and immigration counsel and paralegals should strive to fill the packet with as many supporting documents as are available to show marriage bona fides to the USCIS and the DOS.  Doing the heavy lifting up front before filing the petition packet means there is less likelihood of receiving a request for evidence or experiencing longer than normal processing times. For this reason, PLGPC provides it immigration clients with a long list of examples of marital evidence USCIS immigration officers expect to see in a petition packet. We work to create and submit the strongest petition packets possible so our clients’ applications will be processed by or earlier than typical processing times at services centers and transferred to field offices for interviews.  Family-based immigration is a long and tedious process causing stress and anxiety on the foreign national beneficiary, the petitioning US Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident, and their family and friends.  Keeping your eyes focused on the desired end state means having patience and stamina during the process and working with your immigration legal team to submit the best and strongest evidence in your favor.

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