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Getting married to legalize those illegally in the country remains popular in U.

Once upon a time marriage was proposed and a happily ever after soon followed. However, a backlog of legal immigration applications has given way to an easier way to legalize one’s status- fraudulent marriage.

In the last three years, the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) found that 264,000 to 317,000 resident aliens obtained legal status through marriage.

According to CIS, “The other major finding from the table is that most of the spouses are not new arrivals at all; they are in the nation in some other status (legal or illegal) and so, in immigration-speak, they ‘adjust status’ here, rather than come through the ports of entry.”

In other words, it’s becoming more commonplace to obtain a visa through fraudulent marriages. Some of these marriages take place under shady circumstances. Former ICE agent John Sakelarides says many illegal aliens dupe an unsuspecting American citizen, and once the proverbial honeymoon is over, so is life as they knew it. “They often charge the U.S. citizen with abuse and/or battery knowing they will get their legal papers even sooner.”

A 2005 Government Accountability Office report on U.S. immigration practices found that approximately 20 percent of visa applications are filed under “marriage, spouse and family.” However, a bureaucratic United States Citizenship Immigration Services (USCIS) program doesn’t aggressively prosecute “benefit fraud.”

“Theoretically, they (illegal aliens) face up to five years in federal prison, and up to a $250,000.00 fine, or both. However, the real story? It’s hardly prosecuted. The why is the subject of the story; ‘It’s no big deal.’ Tell that to the US citizen who has been emotionally abused, falsely accused, and their life turned upside down,” said Sakelarides (See 8 USC 1325 ( c ).

Keeping this in mind, it is up to immigration officers to navigate the murky waters of potential marriage fraud. In the U.S., the waiting period to garner the coveted “green card” makes the most sense for those individuals seeking legality in the country. Experts contend that this program needs to be refined in order to root out the lawful marriages and those with more sinister motives.

The numbers below were provided through the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS)–David North.

Visas Created by Migrating Spouses and Fiancé(e)s, FYs 2008-2010

Spouses of U.S. citizens- 264,062/ FY08, 317,129/ FY09 and 271,909/ FY10.

Spouses of PRAs (2FA)- 35,608/ FY08, 26,622/ FY09, 20,635/ FY10.

Immigrant totals; 296,670/ FY08, 343,751/ FY09, 292,544/ FY10.

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© Copyright 2011 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.

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