There are two general types of immigration fraud
Benefit fraud is considered far more dangerous by immigration officials since immigrants acquire legitimate documents through false means; Those engaged in document fraud are more likely to remain "below the radar" for fear of being discovered, whereas benefit fraudsters are "home free." Benefit fraud is also important since fraudsters can immediately sponsor others into the country, travel in and out of the United States freely on U.S. passports and acquire U.S. citizenship.
Types of immigration benefit fraud
Crime victim related
Asylum & refugee
Americans Not Warned of Ulterior Motives although Government Knows Such Fraud "Rampant"
Most Americans have no idea that the fastest, most common way to get a green card is by marrying a U.S. citizen. Therefore, when an American falls in love, they rarely think beyond the promise of building a life with someone they love. Other Americans simply use a fraudulent green-card marriage as a criminal opportunity to make some money -- or maybe even a chance to help out someone they know.
Americans are at a distinct disadvantage in understanding the risks of making a bad match. Many have realized too late that they simply handed over their assets through the legal marriage contract, were lied to about a spouse's birth control status, faced false domestic violence allegations since that an even quicker path to green cards and citizenship, and were forced to pay expensive legal bills for divorce, custody, false allegations of abuse or criminal defense when immigration officials find they're complicit in such fraud.
Foreigners and illegal immigrants often use short-term or fraudulent marriages to gain U.S. green cards and citizenship. Many foreign-born terrorists have utilized benefit application fraud -- especially marriage fraud -- to provide them with unfettered access to the United States, U.S. citizenship and U.S. passports.
Once foreigners gain legal statuses, they can be victimized by fraudsters, as well. Many defrauded Indian Americans have spoken out about such fraud within their own community, as well as Russians and Latinos.
Prior to 1986, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) was required to provide a “green card” (legal residency) to spouses of U.S. citizens regardless of the length of their marriage; a short-term marriage was not proof of fraud under the law. In Dabaghian v. Civiletti (1979), a federal appeals court held that an Iranian man had a right to a green card even though he was separated from his wife when the INS granted it to him -- just four or five months after tying the knot to his American bride. One month after obtaining a divorce, Dabaghian remarried and sponsored an Iranian wife into the United States, a common pattern in immigration fraud. Once a foreign national obtains a green card, he or she can immediately sponsor family members or a new spouse into the country.
Rulings like Dabaghian put the onus on the INS to provide a lot of legal and investigative resources for each green-card marriage that was challenged. But when the General Accounting Office (GAO), the investigative arm of Congress, warned that 30 percent of all marriage-based immigration was fraudulent in 1985, Congress came to the rescue. The following year, a two-year marriage requirement was created for all marriage-based green cards.
But the problem of rampant marriage fraud was not solved. Immigration officials and investigators now admit that sham marriage arrangements just got more complex. Some immigrants spread out payments to American “spouses” willing to marry them for cash. Other immigrants dupe Americans into what the American thinks is a legitimate marriage, only to have the marriage mysteriously dissolve at two years. A new trend involves making false domestic violence allegations to bypass the two-year marriage requirement.
Government officials repeatedly warn that marriage fraud remains "rampant." Yet, Congress has refused to reevaluate the lax marriage-based immigration laws that provide a gaping loophole and easy access to U.S. citizenship. By 2004 – long after officials found marriage to be a key way for terrorists to gain U.S. citizenship -- the DHS was still investigating only 1 percent of all green-card marriages. (The DHS stopped releasing data for subsequent years.)
Canada, France and the United Kingdom are among the numerous countries attempting to revise marriage-based immigration laws to combat widespread fraud. The U.K. and South Africa created a five-year marriage requirement years ago to combat immigration fraud. The Bahamas requires a ten-year marriage. Permanent residency is revoked in some countries if a couple divorces within two years of one acquiring marriage-based residency.
Marriage Fraud: How Bad Is it?
Investigators still complain of "rampant" fraud -- and multiple loopholes eliminate even the 2-year marriage requirement.
"Domestic Violence Green Cards" an Incentive to Cry Wolf
The perfect way to bypass regular background checks and the two-year marriage requirement? Make false domestic violence allegations -- either emotional of physical. These provisions are part of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).
Why is this a problem?
Exposing government incompetence
& lax homeland security
Problem is that relies on victims’ statements (GAO report on fraud December 2015)
Link to New Yorker article 2011 article
NYT reported that law firms aided false asylum claims: December 2012 http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/19/nyregion/law-firms-accused-of-aiding-chinese-immigrants-false-asylum-claims.html
Knowing the Obama administration’s change … “coyotes” …
Employment Fraud (H1-B)
Reference to Sara Blackwell’s case
Investor Fraud: Green Cards for Sale
Vermont cases 60 Munites and newspaper links
Claim Crime Victim Status for Fast-Tracked Green Cards (The U Visa)
Claim Your American Spouse Abuse You (VAWA -- or the Violence Against Women Act)
"Get Out of Jail Free" Card: Marry an American (The Fraud Waiver)
Get Immigration Officials to Bar Criminal Records from Immigration Proceedings (VAWA, the U Visa or the T Visa)
Illegal and Need to Fix Your Status?
(The U Visa, VAWA, 245(i) provisions)
Politicians debate illegal immigration yet ignore rampant fraud within the LEGAL immigration system.
Not a Victimless Crime
After 1/3 of marriage-based green cards proved fraudulent, Congress created a 2-year marriage requirement in 1986.
Fast-Tracked Green Cards Given to Anyone Claiming to Be Crime Victim
Illegal immigrants and short-term visa holders claiming to be crime victims are eligible to get green cards. Initially set up as a non-immigrant (short-term) visa so foreign nationals could stay in the country while they assist law enforcement with criminal prosecutions and investigations, immigration advocates rallied congressional members to turn the visa into a path to citizenship – and like the VAWA green card – this is open to any foreigner making a simple allegation of being a crime victim. They do NOT need to be helping with pending law enforcement investigations or prosecutions, and this is no longer a "visa," but a full, legal path to citizeneship.
This program has proven so successful that California politicians created a law whereby state taxpayer funds are diverted to to help with the immigration process of any foreign national claiming to be a crime victim.
California, the state with the largest number of illegal immigrants in the nation, has successfully used this provision to provide amnesty (get legal immigration statuses) for large numbers of its illegal immigrant community. By law, state taxpayer funds are diverted to any foreign national claiming to be a crime victim to help them with federal immigration proceedings.