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Can I marry my foreign friend so they can stay in the country?

You may have a close friend who’s a foreign national living in the U.S. temporarily. Their visa may be expiring soon, and they’re worried about finding a way to remain in the U.S. You may wonder about marrying them as an easy way to resolve their immigration issue.

Should you consider doing this? The answer, in a nutshell, is no. Here’s why:

Thorough and continuous scrutiny

Marriage fraud is relatively common in the U.S. immigration system. As a result, immigration authorities are on the alert for anything that seems suspicious. They will thoroughly investigate your case and look for any evidence that your marriage is not bona fide – i.e., that it is not a marriage based in love. You will provide documents as evidence that your marriage is legitimate. But immigration authorities also use other strategies to discover the truth. These may include:

  • Visiting your home
  • Interviewing your friends
  • Interviewing your employers
  • Interrogating you and your spouse

In addition, such investigations do not only happen once. They may take place when your spouse applies for a green card and up to two years after your spouse gets their green card. They can make further investigations when your spouse applies for citizenship, and after citizenship has been granted – if they have reason to believe that your spouse’s citizenship should be revoked.

Penalties for you both

If found guilty of marriage fraud, both you and your spouse face serious consequences. Your spouse will almost certainly be deported – and lose any future chance of getting a green card. In addition, it’s worth understanding that marriage fraud is a federal crime. You and your spouse could both face five years in prison and fines of up to $250,000.

You may love your friend like they’re part of your family. But you should know the penalties of feigning a love relationship with them for immigration purposes. It’s a risky endeavor that probably won’t end well for either of you.

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