If you are the victim of fraud – Someone has used your identity, stolen your property or money and your are NOT yourself being investigated or charged with a crime, you should report this crime to the police. We defend people accused of committing fraud, not people who have been defrauded.
The federal government sees immigration fraud as a crime that threatens the public safety and national security of the United States by allowing terrorists, criminals and illegal aliens to gain unlawful entry into the country. Learning that you are the target of a federal immigration fraud investigation is an extremely serious matter that should not be taken lightly, even if you did not intentionally commit an immigration fraud crime.
The federal government is extremely motivated to root out and punish acts of immigration fraud and an immigration fraud charge comes with life-altering criminal penalties if you are convicted. If you or someone you love is under investigation for federal immigration fraud, it is critical that you hire a reputable criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
At Federal Criminal Defense Lawyers, our attorneys are committed to protecting the right of those accused of immigration fraud and we can help you build a strong defense in your case. Contact our firm today to discuss your charges with our knowledgeable federal defense team.
Types of Immigration Fraud
Immigration fraud is a broad legal term used to describe a wide range of alleged fraudulent activity and deceptive conduct having to do with the immigration process. This can include using false documentation or misrepresenting facts on immigration documents in an attempt to gain entry into the U.S., marrying someone strictly for immigration reasons, or providing fraudulent, unauthorized immigration services to individuals seeking to adjust their immigration status.
Other common types of immigration fraud crimes that can be prosecuted by the federal government include:
• Using another person’s identity to complete a visa application
• Fraudulently representing yourself as a qualified immigration attorney
• Fraudulent activity concerning the visa lottery
• Committing forgery or perjury
• Fraudulently representing yourself as qualified to offer legal advice to immigrants or immigration-related services
• Making a false statement about your immigration status in order to obtain employment
• Using a false identity on an immigration document
• Misrepresenting facts on an immigration form
The federal government has made it a priority to investigate allegations of immigration fraud and if you are suspected of committing marriage fraud, immigration services fraud, or benefit or identity fraud in connection with the U.S. immigration system, you could end up being charged with a federal offense.
Marriage fraud is one of the most common types of immigration fraud in the United States. Marriage fraud occurs when a person enters into a sham marriage for the purpose of obtaining an immigration benefit without the intention of creating a real marital relationship. Like any other fraud offense, the federal government takes marriage fraud extremely seriously and if you are suspected of committing marriage fraud, U.S. immigration officials have the authority to intrude upon your personal life and investigate.
Depending on your specific circumstances, you may be required to take part in an in-person interview and provide supporting documentation proving that your marriage is legitimate. In some cases, however, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) agency may conduct a background check and/or interview your family, friends and employer. The authorities may even show up at your home at inconvenient hours to determine whether you and your spouse are, in fact, cohabitating.
Document fraud, also known as immigration benefit or identify fraud, is a federal offense involving any unlawful act in which a person or entity knowingly forges, counterfeits, sells or alters any document for the purpose of obtaining an immigration benefit, including identifying documentation (IDs).
The crime known as document fraud also includes any use or attempted use of fraudulent immigration documents, as well as any unlawful activity that involves preparing, filing, or assisting another person in preparing or filing any fraudulent immigration document or application for benefits. Document or identity fraud is often used to evade U.S. immigration laws and such crimes are therefore a major target for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers.
Immigration Services Fraud
In some cases, immigration fraud charges are brought against individuals or companies accused of providing fraudulent and unauthorized immigration services or those who use such services to illegally gain entry into the U.S. You could be at risk for immigration services fraud charges if you have been accused of charging another person money to assist that person with immigration forms or other immigration services and failing to provide qualified assistance, or if you have represented yourself as qualified to offer legal advice or immigration services to immigrants despite not having the necessary qualifications.
Any time an individual or company fraudulently provides false information or misrepresents facts on behalf of someone else during the immigration process, both parties may be at risk for immigration fraud charges.
How is Immigration Fraud Punished?
Like most federal fraud offenses, a conviction for immigration fraud carries harsh, life-changing criminal penalties. However, the exact punishment imposed by the court will vary depending on the specific immigration fraud charge you are facing and the purpose of the alleged fraudulent activity. For example, any person who violates 18 U.S.C. § 1546 by knowingly forging, counterfeiting, altering or falsely making any immigrant or non-immigrant visa or other document to secure entry into or employment within the U.S. faces the following maximum prison sentences:
• 25 years, if the offense was committed to facilitate an act of international terrorism
• 20 years, if the offense was committed to facilitate a drug trafficking crime
• 10 years, in the case of the first or second offense, if the offense was not committed to facilitate an act of international terrorism or a drug trafficking crime
• 15 years, in case of any other offense
On the other hand, if you violate 8 U.S. Code § 1325 by knowingly entering into a marriage for the purpose of evading any provision of U.S. immigration laws, you could face a potential penalty of imprisonment for up to five years or fines of up to $250,000, or both.
In addition to a prison sentence and substantial fine, a conviction for immigration fraud in federal court will have other serious consequences and can even serve as grounds for deportation and a lifetime ban from the United States as outlined in 8 U.S. Code § 1227. On top of that, individuals found guilty of immigration fraud can also be charged with other federal offenses, such as visa fraud, conspiracy and/or making false statements, each carrying additional fines and prison sentences.
Defenses Against Immigration Fraud Charges
In any federal immigration fraud case, the prosecution bears the burden of proving each element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt in order to convict the defendant, which leaves room for a skilled federal defense attorney to present evidence and testimony that contradicts the production’s case and raises reasonable doubt. Some possible defense strategies your attorney may be able to use in your immigration fraud case include the following:
• Entrapment – A federal agent induced you to commit an immigration fraud crime that you would have otherwise been unlikely to commit
• Insufficient evidence – The prosecution does not have enough evidence to warrant a guilty verdict
• Illegal search and seizure – The evidence against you was obtained during an unlawful search
• Duress – You committed the immigration fraud crime as a result of violence, threat or other pressure against you
• Legal marriage – Your marriage is valid
• Lack of intent – You did not intend to commit any immigration fraud crime
• Lack of knowledge – You did not know that your actions constituted a criminal act
• Proper documentation – You have all of the proper documentation for the immigration issue in question
How Our Immigration Fraud Defense Attorneys Can Help
With growing concerns about international terrorism, drug trafficking, smuggling and other threats to the United States, federal authorities tightly control immigration into the country. As a result, allegations against individuals accused of evading immigration laws through deception or fraud are taken very seriously and could lead to aggressive criminal prosecution, conviction and even deportation.
Any time immigration fraud charges are on the table, the best thing you can do to protect yourself and your family is to contact a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney who has a clear understanding of the United States Code and U.S. immigration laws. At Federal Criminal Defense Lawyers, our defense attorneys are familiar with the complex issues surrounding immigration into the United States and we can provide you with the dedicated legal representation you deserve.
Whether you have been accused of committing marriage fraud, immigration services fraud, document fraud or some other kind of immigration fraud, our defense team will review the facts of your case, advise you on the options available to you under the law and ensure that your legal rights are protected.
We Can Defend You Against Federal Immigration Fraud Charges
If you or someone you love is facing federal charges for immigration fraud, you can trust the top-rated defense team at Federal Criminal Defense Lawyers, to handle your case.
Our defense attorneys have a proven history of success representing defendants in federal immigration fraud cases and we will do everything in our power to help you avoid a conviction, deportation and other life-changing penalties associated with an immigration fraud indictment. Call Federal Criminal Defense Lawyers today for a free case evaluation and to learn more about your rights and legal options. The sooner you hire a criminal defense attorney, the better your chances of successfully fighting your immigrant fraud charges, so don’t wait.