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May 24, 2010: Is Marriage Fraud a Permanent Bar to Residency?

Is Marriage Fraud a Permanent Bar to Residency?

My application for permanent residency was denied with an allegation of marriage fraud from my prior marriage. I was married to that woman in 2002 and applied for permanent residency that same year. However, after 3 years our marriage ended in annulment because she was still married to another person when we got married.

I wrote USCIS and withdrew that application but never received a reply until 2007 with a denial notice. At this time I am remarried, I filed another application, and it was denied. What can I do?
— Anonymous

Generally speaking, when a marriage is entered into for the sole purpose of conveying an immigration benefit, then that is considered a fraudulent marriage, (Section 204(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as amended). A person cannot derive any immigration benefits based on a fraudulent marriage. A person may be forever barred in the future from receiving an immigration benefit due to that fraudulent marriage.

The immigration consequences of a fraudulent marriage are completely different when compared to a marriage that was entered into out of love but where one person was not legally able to marry because s/he was still legally married to a prior spouse. If a prior marriage was merely not legally dissolved, and you can prove that but for that legal impediment it was a bona fide marriage, then you may be successful with your second marriage case.

You may be required to document the bona fide nature of your first marriage when you are at the interview based on your second marriage. It is important to read the Decision denying your case very carefully to see exactly why the case was denied. Furthermore, you may want to obtain a copy of your immigration file through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) before going forward with any future filings. Depending on your current immigration status, you may be placed in removal proceedings.

Finally, you must notify the USCIS of any changes to your address. In your case, it would be wise to retain the services of an experienced immigration attorney to review all of your paperwork and to properly advise you on all of your options.

Michael Shane and Evan Shane, Immigration Attorneys

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