A lot of New York City residents are now asked by the authorities to prove their eligibility to live in the country. It is necessary to be prepared to answer any question and learn how to avoid becoming a victim of immigration fraud in the first place. Immigration lawyers at NYC law firm Joseph Potashnik and Associates have come up with guidelines on what to do in order to avoid immigration fraud.
Types of Immigration Fraud
It is estimated that over 12 mln immigrants live in the United States illegally. Generally, two broad types of crimes are associated with immigration. These are document fraud and benefit fraud which frequently overlap. Let us delve deeper into these types.
Also known as identity theft, this type includes counterfeiting, altering, selling, buying and/or using counterfeit documents to circumvent the US immigration laws. The list of documents includes passports, visas, birth certificates, marriage certificates, death certificates and a lot more. Those who assist non-citizens in preparing fake documents are subject to fines, imprisonment and prohibition from preparing such kind of documents in future. Non-citizens may additionally be charged with such crimes as conspiracy, making false statements and others and subsequently be deported from the United States.
Diversity Visa scam
Non-citizens might fall into the trap of using the services related to filing immigration documents without actually obtaining them in the end. Recently, the State Department’s Office of Visa Services issued a public warning against fraudsters that send out misleading emails claiming that the email recipient has won the DV lottery. Scammers ask recipients to transfer money to pay a proceedings fee. However, the US government never notifies winners in no way other than online via the official DV lottery website. Besides, the fee is paid directly in the US embassy or consulate.
This is misrepresentation of a fact with the purpose of qualifying for immigration benefits. The most common types of benefit fraud are marriage fraud, concealing the fact of having committed a crime when claiming the status of lawful permanent resident, employment-based immigration fraud, and claiming to have been continuously living in the US for the time being sufficient to naturalize.
In accordance with the US law, spouses of US citizens are granted permanent residency. That is the basis of numerous investigations and prosecutions which resulted in a lot of non-US citizens being deported and those proved to have helped them getting charged with marriage swindle, which is one of the most common types of immigration qualification fraud.
Penalties for marriage fraud
Both non-citizen and a US citizen who enter into a sham marriage may be subject to penalties. The criminal penalties for the non-citizen may be up to 5 years of imprisonment and/or a fine of up to 250,000 USD. Besides, their current visa will be revoked and the person will be removed from the US. Besides, the person may not be eligible for receiving a US visa and a green card in the future. As for the penalties for the US citizen, the person will also be subject to imprisonment and fine. If he or she is not actually a citizen but a permanent resident, their status might be revoked and they can subsequently be deported too.
To provide you with an real-life example, we would like to briefly mention a case immigration lawyers at Joseph Potashnik and Associates handled successfully. Our client was a non-citizen accused of marriage fraud. At the moment of the investigation, the couple were separated, although before that they had lived together, shared a car and had a joint bank account. In the end, our law firm’s immigration attorneys managed to dismiss the case by bringing the necessary evidence of the fact that the couple indeed had intended to build a family together.
We strongly discourage immigrants from marrying a US citizen in order to get a green card and US citizens from marrying a non-US citizen for other purpose than creating a family. This is a serious crime. In case you found yourself under investigation for marriage fraud by NYC immigration enforcement authorities, don’t hesitate to contact a criminal defense attorney in New York.
How to Avoid Immigration Fraud: Recommendations
- You should only ask legal advice from a licensed lawyer or accredited representative, preferably the one specializing in dealing with cases of immigration fraud. Always ask a lawyer to show you their law license. If you refer for help to an accredited representative, ask to show you accreditation documents.
- Mind that notaries public are not authorized to practice law and thus they can’t provide you with legal advice on your case. The US term is not the equivalent of “notarios publicos” in Mexico, who are legal professionals there.
- Double-check for incorrect information before you sign any documents. Never sign a blank form and always ask for a copy of whatever document you sign.
- Ask for a second opinion in case you have any doubts or second thoughts.
- Ignore emails claiming that you have won the DV lottery.
What to Do If You Become an Immigration Fraud Victim
In case you are under investigation, you surely need to be cautious not to speak to an immigration enforcement representative before consulting a lawyer. Just ask for their contacts and tell you will get in touch as soon as you contact your lawyer. Don’t disclose any information or related documents, as these may later be used against you. The next step would be contacting a lawyer. In case you reside in the NYC area, contact immigration fraud attorneys at New York law firm Joseph Potashnik and Associates.
Advantages of Joseph Potashnik and Associates
Joseph Potashnik and Associates PC is a law firm established in 2006, with a record of over 1,000 successfully handled cases. Guided by 75 years of combined experience, our attorneys will take on any related case, be it faking a green card, immigration marriage fraud, crimes committed by immigration lawyers or any other. We will provide you with a consultation on your case and do our best to collect all the necessary evidence in order to dismiss charges of fraud.