Immigration fraud is a crime in the United States. There are many different types of immigration fraud, and some of them carry steeper penalties than others. Regardless of the difference in penalties, all immigration fraud charges are a potential threat to your freedom.
If you are under investigation or you have been charged with immigration fraud, you need an attorney who is experienced in criminal immigration cases. Not all criminal defense attorneys are prepared to handle cases dealing with immigration laws, but Houston attorneys at Vinas & Graham, PLLC have the experience and skills you need to defend your case.
What Is Immigration Fraud?
The United States government keeps track of all foreign citizens who enter the country. Non-citizens are required to comply with United States immigration procedures and processes. Immigration fraud occurs when someone circumvents United States immigration laws by fraudulent means.
Both United States citizens and non-citizens may be charged with immigration fraud crimes. As immigration crackdowns continue across the country, more people are being investigated and charged with immigration fraud. Immigration laws are complex, especially now that many laws, including Texas state immigration laws, continually face challenges in our court system.
Common Types Of Immigration Fraud
- Marriage fraud when one or both spouses enter into a marriage for the purpose of circumventing the immigration system.
- Fraudulent documents such as passports, visas, or other immigration related-documents that are counterfeit, belong to another person, or contain false information.
- Providing false information on immigration forms and applications.
- Issuing passports without proper permissions and authority.
- Providing false information about immigration status to work in the United States.
- Offering immigration services without proper qualifications or offering scam immigration services.
- Providing false information for immigration sponsorship.
- Hiring immigrants in violation of immigration laws to avoid taxes, minimum wage requirements, and other expenses.
Immigration Fraud Penalties
Fraud penalties vary based on the type of fraud and whether or not there were any aggravating factors. For example, forging or counterfeiting documentation may lead to 10 years in prison as a first offense crime. If documents were forged to facilitate a crime of drugs or terrorism, the defendant could see up to 25 years in prison. A defendant who is a repeat offender may face steeper prison sentences, as well.
Deportation is another potential penalty for non-citizens charged with immigration fraud. If you were previously deported from the United States, you might lose the right to ever return to the country. With all of the factors and complexities of immigration law, your defense can only be entrusted to a knowledgeable and skilled attorney.
Defenses To Immigration Fraud
Just because you are charged with immigration fraud, does not mean that you will be convicted. A commonly raised defense in immigration fraud cases is that the defendant did not intend to defraud the immigration system. Sometimes language barriers result in miscommunication, and inaccurate information ends up in documents as a result.
Unfortunately, immigrants are sometimes victims of someone else’s fraud. Immigrants may rely on advice from people holding themselves out as immigration experts, but those people and their businesses turn out to be scams. As a result of these scams, immigrants who relied on bad advice may unintentionally violate immigration laws.
In other cases, immigration fraud is based on incorrect information. For example, a defendant in a genuine marriage is falsely accused of being in a sham marriage, or a defendant has a compromised immigration status because of a government mistake or inaccuracy.
What To Do If You Are Investigated Or Charged With Immigration Fraud
If you are under investigation or have been charged with immigration fraud, you should not make statements to an investigator or anyone else until you have consulted with an attorney. You also should not give your immigration documents to investigators or other authorities until you have legal representation.
Additionally, you should never ignore immigration letters or notices. It is important to deal with issues that arise right away, but again, you should not deal with these issues on your own. It is critical to have legal representation when you are dealing with any matters related to immigration fraud investigations or charges.
Immigration Fraud Attorneys
If you are being investigated for immigration fraud or you have already been charged, an immigration fraud attorney at Vinas & Graham, PLLC, can help. We will contact the proper authorities in an attempt to clear up and settle your immigration matters. We will help prepare a solid defense to prove your innocence. The stakes are high in immigration fraud matters, and your case should only be handled by skilled and experienced attorneys.