Immigration fraud is a broad term used to describe a wide variety of fraudulent immigration-related acts, including lying on immigration documents to secure entry into the United States, entering into a fraudulent marriage solely for immigration reasons, or fraudulently providing another person with invalid immigration services. Whether you are accused of misconduct in attempting to enter or remain in the U.S. or offering fraudulent immigration-related services or assistance to another person, you can face federal criminal charges and other serious penalties as a result of your alleged crime. If you or someone you love has been charged with immigration fraud, or if you have reason to believe you are a target in a federal immigration fraud investigation, do not hesitate to retain the services of a skilled federal criminal defense attorney. Allegations of federal immigration fraud should never be taken lightly and with our defense team at Federal Criminal Defense Pro on your side, you can improve your chances of securing a favorable outcome in your criminal case.
Affordable Immigration Fraud Attorneys
The United States has a strong interest in preventing any type of immigration fraud, especially in light of the homeland security and terrorism issues taking place around the world, and the federal government, therefore, takes all allegations of fraud in connection with immigration extremely seriously. As such, individuals accused of committing immigration-related crimes like marriage fraud or document fraud face aggressive criminal prosecution and stand to lose a great deal, possibly even their freedom, their right to remain in or reenter the country, or both. Any time you are suspected of committing immigration fraud, your first course of action should be to contact a knowledgeable federal criminal defense attorney to review the facts of your case and advise you on the options available to you under the law. Immigration-related issues can be complex and challenging and it takes a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer who understands immigration law and federal criminal law to put forth a credible defense in your immigration fraud case. With the highly respected immigration fraud defense team at Federal Criminal Defense Pro at your back, you may be able to get any criminal charges related to alleged marriage fraud, document fraud, benefits fraud, immigration services fraud or identity fraud dismissed or reduced.
Types of Federal Immigration Fraud
Immigration into the United States is tightly controlled by immigration authorities and any person who attempts to circumvent U.S. immigration laws through fraud or deception can face severe criminal charges for immigration fraud. The phrase “immigration fraud” is a broad legal term that encompasses many different types of fraudulent misconduct or deceptive acts, such as forgery, identity theft or perjury, related to any part of the immigration process. The following are the most common types of immigration fraud prosecuted by the federal government:
- Lying on an immigration form
- Entering into a fraudulent marriage to obtain citizenship
- Entering into a fraudulent marriage to help someone else gain entry into the country
- Altering or counterfeiting an immigration document
- Using a false identity on an immigration document
- Making a false statement about your immigration status in order to obtain employment
- Fraudulently representing yourself as qualified to offer immigration-related services or legal advice to immigrants
- Committing forgery or perjury
- Fraudulent activity with regard to the visa lottery
- Fraudulently representing yourself as an immigration attorney
- Using someone else’s identity to complete a visa application
One of the most common types of immigration fraud is marriage fraud or the act of a non-citizen of the United States entering into a fraudulent marriage for the sole purpose of evading U.S. immigration law and obtaining a green card. Individuals suspected of marriage fraud are often subjected to an intensive investigation by the federal government, which may include making unannounced visits to the couple’s home, requesting convincing documentation showing that the couple has legitimately joined their lives in marriage, or conducting intrusive interviews in hopes of tripping up couples suspected of violating the law.
Immigration Services Fraud
In many cases, individuals find themselves facing immigration fraud charges and deportation through no fault of their own. Legal representatives in other countries aren’t necessarily held to the same high standard as attorneys in the United States and there are many instances in which innocent individuals fall victim to scams by notary publics, known in many parts of Latin America as “notarios publicos” illegally representing themselves as qualified to handle the various parts of the immigration process. When an unlicensed attorney or unqualified notario misrepresents facts or provides false documentation on behalf of another person in an immigration proceeding, the immigrant could end up being accused of immigration fraud and face imminent deportation.
Benefits or Identity Fraud
Identity fraud, benefit fraud, and document fraud are all federal offenses that can be tied to immigration fraud when the fraudulent acts are committed for the purpose of evading U.S. immigration laws. Document fraud (8 U.S. Code § 1324c), for instance, is a criminal act characterized by “manufacturing, counterfeiting, alteration, sale, and/or use of identity documents and other fraudulent documents to circumvent immigration laws or for other criminal activity.” Benefit fraud is the “willful misrepresentation of a material fact on a petition or application to gain an immigration benefit.” Identity and benefit fraud are investigated by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) division of the Department of Homeland Security, which places a high priority on identifying and prosecuting individuals suspected of these federal crimes.
Punishment for an Immigration Fraud Conviction
Immigration fraud is a serious federal offense with potentially long-lasting penalties that can be life-changing, including harsh criminal penalties. The specific criminal punishment associated with an immigration fraud conviction depends on the precise details of the case. For instance, entering into a fraudulent marriage for the purpose of obtaining lawful permanent residence status as a non-citizen, a violation of 8 U.S.C. § 1325(c), is punishable by up to five years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, or both. Under 18 U.S.C. § 1546 (“fraud and misuse of visas, permits, and other documents”), which includes forging or counterfeiting such documents, is punishable by up to 25 years in prison, if the crime is committed to facilitate an act of international terrorism, or by up to 20 years in prison, if the crime is committed to facilitate a drug trafficking crime.
Having an immigration fraud conviction on your criminal record may make it difficult for you to find housing or employment or obtain government benefits, among other potential collateral consequences. You could also face adverse immigration consequences as a result of an immigration fraud conviction. For instance, marriage fraud is considered grounds for deportation per the Immigration and Nationality Act (I.N.A.) § 237(a)(1)(G) and 8 U.S.C. § 1227(a)(1)(G) and if you violate federal law by committing marriage fraud as defined by 8 U.S.C. § 1325(c), you can be deported and denied re-entry into the United States. If you are not a citizen of the United States and you are in the country on a visa, a conviction on federal charges of immigration fraud could cause you to lose your legal status and be ordered to leave the country.
Defending Immigration Fraud Cases
The burden of proof in an immigration fraud case is “beyond a reasonable doubt,” which means, in order to get a guilty verdict at trial, the federal government must prove each element of the crime to the extent that there can be no other logical explanation for the evidence other than that you are guilty of the crime in question. For instance, in order to prove your guilt in a marriage fraud case, the federal government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you and your spouse agreed to enter into a sham marriage for the sole purpose of evading U.S. immigration laws and obtaining legal citizenship. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for people to be wrongfully accused and convicted of immigration fraud and subjected to harsh penalties as a result, which is why seeking legal guidance from a knowledgeable federal immigration fraud defense attorney is imperative.
Defense Strategies for Immigration Fraud
Facing adverse immigration consequences and severe criminal penalties for immigration fraud offenses can be frightening and confusing, but it is important to remember that you have rights, including the right to a speedy trial and to have an attorney assist in your defense. It is true that immigration fraud is a federal offense that the government takes extremely seriously, but just because you have been accused of immigration fraud does not mean the prosecution can prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt and get a guilty verdict. The following are some possible defenses your lawyer may be able to use in your immigration fraud case:
- Proper documentation exists – You have the proper documentation for the immigration issue in question
- Lack of knowledge – You did not know that your actions constituted a criminal act
- Lack of intent – You did not knowingly and purposefully intend to commit immigration fraud
- Legal marriage – Your marriage is legal and valid and not an attempt to evade immigration law
- Duress – You committed the immigration fraud crime under duress
- Illegal search and seizure – The prosecution obtained the evidence against you as a result of an illegal search of your property
- Insufficient evidence – The prosecution has insufficient evidence to prove the crime beyond a reasonable doubt
- Entrapment – You were induced to commit the crime, which you would have otherwise been unlikely to commit, by the police or some other law enforcement agent
How Our Criminal Defense Attorneys Can Help
Most immigration fraud cases are prosecuted at the federal level, because of the potential threat that the various types of immigration fraud pose to the country as a whole, and if you have been accused of immigration fraud in California, you will want a federal criminal defense attorney representing your defense. Immigration fraud defense can be extremely complex, as these types of cases often involve multiple parties and sometimes require the parties to communicate in different languages or even from different countries. Furthermore, immigration fraud is often charged and tried in conjunction with other criminal acts, such as drug trafficking, which can further complicate the criminal case and potentially result in increased penalties upon conviction.
Federal Criminal Defense Pro is based in Los Angeles, California and our defense attorneys represent clients in state cases throughout California and in federal criminal cases in all 50 states. As a former prosecutor, Daniel R. Perlman brings a unique and valuable perspective to federal criminal defense and can provide clients with expert legal representation at any stage of their criminal case. No matter what crime you have been charged with or how dire your situation may seem, our defense team is committed to protecting your rights and representing your best interests and we will do everything in our power to get you the best possible outcome in your immigration fraud case. Contact our law firm today for a no-cost consultation with our team of accomplished federal criminal defense lawyers.
Consult Our Immigration Fraud Defense Lawyers Today
The criminal act of immigration fraud covers a wide variety of situations, from entering into a sham marriage for the purpose of obtaining immigration benefits to providing false information or false documents when applying for a green card or visa. The immigration consequences associated with immigration fraud are severe and permanent and the criminal penalties resulting from an immigration fraud conviction can follow you for the rest of your life. You could even find yourself facing charges of immigration fraud in federal court without ever actually committing a crime. For instance, you can be wrongfully accused of entering into a sham marriage when your marriage is legal and legitimate. If you or someone you love has been accused of committing immigration fraud, the federal government will prosecute your case to the fullest extent of the law. The sooner you hire our immigration fraud defense team at Federal Criminal Defense Pro, the sooner we can get to work on your case and the stronger your defense will be. Contact our law firm today to discuss your case with our reputable defense attorneys.