Practice Advisory: Sham Marriages and Marriage Fraud: A Summary of Recent Case Law and Tips for Practitioners

Last Updated

December 15, 2021

This practice advisory provides background and analysis on recent decisions issued by the Board of Immigration Appeals, or BIA, regarding immigrating through a marriage-based petition. From 2019 to 2021, the BIA published four decisions relating to sham, or fraudulent, marriages and INA § 204(c). A sham marriage is one that the parties enter into not to establish a life together but rather to circumvent immigration laws. Section 204(c) bars approval of a visa petition where the beneficiary has previously participated in a fraudulent marriage or has attempted or conspired to do so. This practice advisory summarizes the recent BIA case law, provides practice pointers and ethical considerations for advocates when representing clients with previously filed marriage-based petitions or where allegations of fraud may surface, and suggests possible solutions for clients who are subject to the 204(c) bar.