Every week, we see new news stories about immigration fraud. Often, the fraudsters aren’t the immigrants themselves but crime rings who take advantage of them.
Nevertheless, it’s too easy for an immigrant to find themselves up on charges. USCIS is highly suspicious and actively looks for signs fraud is occurring.
What is immigration fraud?
There are three common types of fraud. The first is lying or misrepresenting information on immigration applications in the hopes of receiving certain immigration benefits. The second is marriage fraud: entering a marriage with a US citizen to gain permanent residency. The third is committing identity theft to gain an immigration benefit.
Immigration fraud would also cover any scam targeting immigrants and either leading them to commit fraud while telling them their actions were legal or charging them for fraudulent services.
What are the consequences of immigration fraud?
You could be deported or barred from entering the country.
You could also be found guilty of a federal crime that carries both a prison sentence and fines.
What are the defenses for immigration fraud?
There are two primary defenses.
The first is lack of intent. For example, if you get scammed by someone who presented themselves as an immigration expert or even an attorney, and they provide you with bad advice or documentation, they might face charges, but you would be found not guilty. You’d then have the chance to pursue your immigration case with the help of an honest immigration lawyer.
Many immigrants do not even know that fraudulent activities were undertaken on their behalf.
The second is the presence of proper documentation. If you can provide evidence proving you did not commit fraud, you can generally be acquitted. For example, if you can come up with a document from your home country that you didn’t realize you needed or can provide evidence that a bona fide marriage exists, you may be clear.
Do you need a criminal lawyer for immigration fraud charges?
Ideally, you’d work with someone who is both an immigration lawyer and a federal criminal defense lawyer, as there is so much crossover between both types of law in immigration fraud cases.
Even more ideally, you’d avoid fraud charges in the first place by working closely with an experienced immigration lawyer who can help you fill out your paperwork and provide appropriate evidence correctly the first time.
Here at Koch Law, we have both types of expertise and are ready to help you. Contact our office to get started today.