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Marriage Fraud Update 2021

Marriage Fraud Update 2021

Marriage fraud can be seriously damaging to an immigration case. Today I want to talk about a case that came out in October of 2020 that discussed Immigration and Nationality Act section 204(c) – the penalties related to marriage fraud. Have you heard of 204(c)? Section 204(c) is a fraud finding and it says that if there was ever a fraudulent marriage - meaning you entered into a marriage solely for the purposes of immigration, not because you wanted to form a life together - then future immigration petitions cannot be approved. That's what section 204(c) stands for and in some instances, it's a pretty harsh rule.

For example, immigration doesn’t care how much hardship your spouse or family would go through if you don't get a green card, no matter what, that petition is not going to get approved because of 204(c) – in other words, it is NOT waivable.

To watch this blog on Video – see here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xvBtpOJHmls&t=19s

In order to have a 204(c) fraud finding, the government has to have substantial and probative evidence that there was marriage fraud: that there was a marriage entered into solely for immigration purposes. If they have that, then they will have to deny any future petition for you. This can be especially harsh when it applies against people who had the 204(c) finding 20 years ago, based on a marriage that you had when you were young (perhaps 21 years old) and

now you're 40, and you've got a family, yet still that petition cannot be approved.

There was a recent case, the Matter of PAK which was decided by the Board of Immigration Appeals on October 30th of 2020. The question the BIA was analyzing was “what if there was never even a finding all those years ago of marriage fraud?” What if they just denied that first i-130 because there wasn't sufficient evidence submitted? It wasn't a finding of "fraud", it was just like hey you didn't submit enough stuff to show that you had a bona fide marriage, so we're denying it for that reason, and now all these years later you're married to a new spouse and you're trying to file for your green card. Will they still hold that first earlier marriage against you? Even if there was no 204(c) fraud finding in that earlier marriage?

Unfortunately, yes, the BIA decided that it would hold it against you. So if that first marriage-based case was denied for “lack of evidence”, but today you're filing with a new spouse, they will ask questions. They'll say, “Hey! Who was that first husband? Who was that first wife? How long were you married? Tell me about that marriage, were you intending to form a life together when you first got married or was it just for immigration purposes?”

And if your answer is: "Oh yeah, we were just together for a month and a half before we filed divorce, and we filed the immigration paperwork but it didn't end up working, and

it didn't go anywhere." They might not only deny that past case, but they might have to deny

every single petition that you and your spouse now ever file going forward.

If you had a marriage in the past, and if you weren't married for very much time, the government views marriages with suspicion. They are trained to be on the look out for marriage fraud. , They'll want to treat it as a violation of immigration law, and so you want to be aware, you want to be on the lookout so when you're preparing the future case, you want to be able to say, “no, that that first marriage that I had years ago, it wasn't just for immigration purposes, it might have been a mistake, it might not have been the wisest decision, maybe we were young and stupid, but at the time that we got married, we did intend that the marriage would work.”

Legally, it is okay if you were young and stupid, but it is not okay if it was a plan to try and get around immigration laws and if it was solely a marriage of convenience for immigration purposes.

If you have questions about this, talk to a lawyer. That's what consultations are all about, we can help you, we can figure out what the best strategy is in your situation because you don't want to be barred by 204(c).

Our immigration lawyers at Landerholm Immigration, APC are here to help you! If you have questions regarding marriage fraud, 204(c), or any other complex family-based green card or deportation case, please give our law firm a call at 510-574-7377!

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