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Marriage can be a tricky prospect as an immigrant

The federal government may not believe that your relationship is real if you are an immigrant wed to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident whether you live in Florida or elsewhere in the country. This cynicism comes from years of discovering that some of these couples only married in order for the immigrant spouse to receive a green card. Unfortunately, it will be up to the couple to prove that the marriage is real when immigration officials come knocking, accusing them of marriage fraud.

In 2006, Homeland Security Investigations started the Document and Benefit Fraud Task Forces. The aim is to identify individuals and organizations that use marriage as a fraudulent way to gain admittance to the country and remain here. They look for immigrants who convince U.S. citizens that the marriage is real and "mail order" marriages in which one or both parties believe the marriage is not real. In other cases, they look for U.S. citizens who either receive money in exchange for the marriage or are doing a favor for a friend.

HSI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement appear hypervigilant these days under the guise of concerns regarding terrorist activity by those who enter the country illegally, or pseudo-legally. The current immigration environment makes it even more dangerous for just about any married couple in which one member is not a U.S. citizen or permanent resident of the United States. In any case, the penalties can be harsh, and the immigrant could end up being deported.

At some point after a marriage between a U.S. citizen and an immigrant, officials may question the validity of the relationship, especially in today's political climate. This may mean an interview to verify that the parties know things about each other that married couples would know, that they have integrated their lives and that they actually live as husband and wife. If, or when, this happens, it would greatly benefit a Florida couple in this position to contact an immigration attorney who can guide them through this often-intimidating process.

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