Miami Matchmaker Faces Criminal Charges For Conspiracy To Commit Marriage Fraud
When your relatives or friends tell you that you are getting married for the wrong reasons, the appropriate response is usually to tell them to mind your own beeswax. Plenty of people who are happily married today entered into their marriages because of motivations that could easily make them targets of workplace gossip or family reunion Schadenfreude. Happy anniversary to the lady who got married to a guy she had only been dating a few months because she couldn’t stand the thought of her sister getting married before her. Why you do or don’t get married is your business, not the state’s, in most cases. It is perfectly legal for a U.S. citizen to marry a citizen of a foreign country and then to sponsor an immigrant visa for their spouse, but marrying someone in order to sponsor their green card, and receiving money in exchange, when you have no intention of staying married to your spouse after they attain legal permanent residency is marriage fraud, and a Miami woman who allegedly helped several couples commit marriage fraud is now in legal trouble. Here, our Miami white collar crimes defense lawyer explains how five brides, five grooms, and the woman who introduced them to each other could end up facing criminal penalties for their actions.
The Charges: Marriage Fraud and Unlawfully Encouraging an Alien to Reside in the United States
Yamira Sanchez, 47, owns a company in Miami that helps people prepare immigration applications. This aspect of her business is perfectly legal. The trouble is that she allegedly helped five men immigrate to the United States by finding U.S.-based women to marry them, and she allegedly paid the women to participate in the marriage fraud operation. The husbands are Gennaro di Tommaso, Massimillano di Napoli, Fernando Siva, Alessio Sarno, and Vincenzo Lopopolo, all of whom are citizens of Italy. The wives are Yaneisi Osorio Rodriguez, Emily Perez, Jaileen Dominguez, Elizabeth Penalver, and Loi Torrente. All of the wives were born in Cuba; some of them are U.S. citizens, and others are U.S. permanent residents.
Because of the Cuban Adjustment Act, foreign nationals who marry Cuban-born U.S. citizens or Cuban nationals who have U.S. permanent resident status become eligible to apply for U.S. green cards more quickly than other foreign nationals whose U.S. citizen spouses sponsor their immigration petitions. Sanchez allegedly paid each of the women several thousand dollars to marry one of the men and sponsor a green card for him. Sanchez is facing five counts of marriage fraud and five counts of unlawfully encouraging an alien to reside in the United States. Each of the wives faces one count each of marriage fraud and unlawfully encouraging an alien to reside in the United States. Each of the husbands faces charges of one count of marriage fraud.
Is Marrying for a Green Card Always a Crime?
Boy meets girl, boy marries girl, girl applies for boy’s green card, boy gets green card, boy and girl divorce is a fairly common scenario, and only a small fraction of people who have lived through it have ever been convicted with marriage fraud. Most of the legal consequences of staying married just long enough to get a green card play out in family court rather than in criminal court. More often, one spouse marries the other and sponsors their immigrant visa application with the sincere intention of staying married for the rest of their lives. When the immigrant spouse gets a permanent green card and files for divorce, the U.S. citizen spouse may allege fraud because they didn’t know that their spouse was just using them for a green card. In other cases, an immigrant spouse who leaves an abusive marriage before receiving a permanent green card can persuade the court that they entered the marriage with the best of intentions but later saw a side of their spouse that they had not known existed. In other words, sometimes it is the immigrant spouse who has been deceived. The family courts do not always assume that marriage fraud is a factor when a couple divorces after one spouse has sponsored the other’s green card.
Reach Out to Us Today for Help
Sponsoring your spouse’s green card is not a crime, but misrepresenting facts on an immigration application is, especially if you do it for financial gain. A Miami white collar crime lawyer can help you fight the charge of marriage fraud. Contact Ratzan & Faccidomo for help today.