Immigration marriage fraud refers to the practice of entering into marriage for the purpose of evading any provision of U.S. immigration law. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the most common form of immigration-related marriage fraud occurs when a foreign national marries a U.S. citizen with the intention of becoming a lawful permanent resident and, ultimately, a citizen of the United States.
Perpetrators of immigration marriage fraud exploit a U.S. immigration policy that enables immediate relatives of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents to obtain immigration status without regard to numerical limitations. As per the Immigration Marriage Fraud Amendments of 1986, which were passed to deter this type of fraud, marriage fraud is a federal crime punishable by a prison sentence of up to five years and a fine of up to $250,000. The amendments also stipulate that an immigrant spouse who derives her immigrant status from a marriage of less than two years should be admitted as a conditional immigrant. To remove this conditional status, the couple must maintain a valid marriage for two years and then file a petition for removal at a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office within 90 days of the second anniversary of receiving conditional status. Failure to do so can result in deportation of the alien spouse.