New York Immigration Fraud Lawyer Helps Clients Defend Against State and Federal Charges
Immigration fraud is a growing concern amongst state and federal authorities, leading law enforcement to over-zealously pursue otherwise lawful or unintentional conduct. If you are facing a possible immigration fraud conviction, understand that this type of crime can wreak havoc on your criminal background or possibly lead to your deportation if you are not a U.S. citizen. To avoid this result, please contact a reputable New York Immigration Fraud lawyer immediately – your future depends on it!
The phrase “immigration fraud” is more of an umbrella term encompassing several types of fraudulent misconduct. As discussed below, a charge of immigration fraud can involve forgery, perjury, identity theft or other scams on vulnerable individuals. Fraud cannot occur by accident, and it cannot occur as the result of negligent behavior. Instead, authorities must prove that the defendant acted intentionally and purposefully, the absence of which is a commonly invoked defense by an experienced and aggressive New York Immigration Fraud Lawyer.
Types of Immigration Fraud
As mentioned above, immigration fraud can involve any number of crimes. Generally speaking, the term refers to any act of deception or misconduct surrounding any immigration, naturalization or citizenship issue. Specific examples of immigration fraud include, but are not limited to:
- Entering into a sham marriage for purposes of gaining entry to the United States (also known as marriage fraud)
- Telephone calls from scammers posing as U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services personnel
- Businesses charging outrageous fees for immigration “consulting” services
- Fraudulent activity with regard to the visa lottery or otherwise scamming applicants into believing they’ve won a visa
- Using a false identity on any immigration document
- Committing perjury or forgery
- Stealing the identity of another person to complete a visa application
- Committing mail fraud in conjunction with immigration fraud
- Altering, counterfeiting or otherwise committing document fraud
- Misrepresentation of a material fact on an application to obtain immigration benefits
Penalties for Immigration Fraud
The federal government has a very strong interest in deterring any type of fraud within the context of immigration, primarily due to homeland security and terrorism problems around the world. As such, possible penalties for immigration fraud can be extremely steep, including lengthy jail sentences, extremely high fines and possible loss of legal status.
Marriage fraud, one of the most common immigration fraud acts, is punishable by a jail sentence up to five years and a maximum fine of $250,000. What’s more, the citizen or resident spouse could face equal punishment as that imposed upon the foreign spouse.
Under 18 U.S.C. § 1546, fraud involving a visa or other document related to an immigration matter is punishable by the following penalties:
- 25-year prison sentence: If the act was committed in order to facilitate international terrorism
- 20-year prison sentence: If the act was committed to facilitate a drug trafficking conspiracy
- 15-year prison sentence: If the defendant is a repeat offender or has a significant criminal history
- 10-year prison sentence: If the defendant is a first- or second-time offender.
Document fraud, which is another major area of concern for federal officials, is punishable by up to five years in prison. This crime pertains to using a false identification document, using an identification document that was obtained via fraudulent means or engaging in false attestation.
Defenses to a Charge of Immigration Fraud
If you are facing any of the above-described immigration fraud issues, our New York Immigration Fraud lawyer will work overtime to mount a thorough and credible defense on your behalf. One of the over-arching issues facing the prosecution in any criminal case is that of mental intent: Did the defendant intend to commit the act knowingly and purposefully? If the facts suggest that the defendant did not intend to possess a false identification card or did not realize he was signing a fake immigration document, it is unlikely the prosecutor will be able to continue in his or her case. In general, accidents or unknowing activity does not give rise to the hefty fines and penalties described above.
A similar defense may apply if you are facing a marriage-related immigration fraud charge. In general, the prosecution must prove that you or your spouse agreed to enter into the marriage relationship for the sole purpose of gaining entrance into the United States. As with mental intent, the prosecution must set forth actual evidence that one or both spouses got married for no other reason than to gain legal status, a notion which may be refuted with evidence of an actual relationship between the parties.
Consequences of an Immigration Fraud Conviction
If you are not a citizen of the United States and are here with a visa, an immigration fraud conviction can result in the possible loss of your legal status and an order to return to your native country. If you have worked tirelessly to gain legal entry into the U.S., you need the assistance of New York fraud lawyers right away. In addition to possible deportation, immigration fraud convictees may have difficulty finding employment, housing or obtaining benefits due to the presence of a felony criminal charge on their record. Likewise, a conviction for immigration fraud can result in incarceration for an extended period of time.
Contact an Experienced New York Immigration Fraud Lawyer Today
If you are facing an immigration fraud charge, we encourage you to contact our New York Immigration Fraud lawyer right away. Not only can our lawyers help you develop and present a credible defense, but we can help save you from the disaster of deportation, incarceration and criminal conviction. For more information or to speak with one of our New York fraud attorneys, contact attorney Frederick L. Sosinsky by calling (212) 285-2270.