There are three types of fraud that the Immigration and Nationality Act takes very seriously – so seriously that if you’re found to have committed one of these, your chances for any type of immigration benefit in the future are reduced to just about zero.
In a future post, I’ll talk about the types of fraud that can be waived, but today, I’ll focus on the three “kisses of death.” It doesn’t matter if you marry one of President Obama’s daughters or cure cancer, the law will not (generally) forgive you for the following types of fraud.
1. ASYLUM FRAUD
Asylum fraud also called filing a frivolous asylum application, is where a person files an asylum application with knowingly false information in it.
A weak case is not a frivolous case, so if you have a true fear to return to your home country, asylum may be the only option you have – maybe not a great option, but certainly an option.
Filing asylum just to get a work card or to buy time in the United States based on a fabricated story, well, that’s just a bad idea. If the judge finds you guilty of filing a frivolous asylum case, you are barred from ever applying for an immigration benefit in the future – from being a tourist to getting a green card through marriage to getting humanitarian parole to attend a parent’s funeral.
2. FALSE CLAIM TO U.S. CITIZENSHIP
A false claim to the United States citizenship is pretty straightforward. If you apply for a state or federal benefit claiming that you are a U.S. citizen and you are not, you will likewise be barred from any future immigration benefit. Examples are (but not limited to) filing for a United States passport, I-9 information for taxes, and registering to vote.
There are a few small exceptions to this rule. The law changed in September 1996, so if the false claim came before then, you can still seek a waiver. A second exception exists where the person had two U.S. citizen parents, resided permanently in the United States prior to the age of sixteen, and reasonably believed that they were a citizen.
3. MARRIAGE FRAUD
Marriage fraud under INA 204(c) is the third type of unforgivable fraud. If you marry someone and the sole intent is to gain immigration benefits, you have engaged in marriage fraud.
Certainly, immigration can be a factor in your decision to get married and your timing, but marrying just for the paperwork is a federal crime. Both parties can be sentenced to up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. So in addition to being barred from the United States, there is a very real possibility of criminal consequences.
Marriage fraud is very different from not being able to demonstrate the bona fides of a relationship. Sometimes couples simply don’t have the amount of documentation necessary to show they live together. That doesn’t mean that USCIS will find fraud in the case, but they may not approve the case because of the lack of documentation.
People in desperate situations can make very bad decisions. If you want to stay in the United States, talk to an immigration attorney to find out your true options. Do not resort to one of the schemes detailed above – don’t believe the empty promises of notarios or ‘friends’ who say they can help you with a fabricated asylum claim or a sham marriage. The government will eventually find out and you’ll have done permanent, fatal damage to your ability to stay in the United States.