Cases of immigration fraud are among the most polarizing and misunderstood federal cases that are being pursued and tried today. As with all other legislation, immigration law is constantly changing, and as such folks who are charged for an immigration fraud crime today might be engaging in behavior that in the future won’t even be considered a crime. With all the different jurisdictions and regulations at play, it’s no wonder that defendants have a hard time trying to keep track of what’s legal and what’s not. And unfortunately, a simple mistake can be the difference between a simple life in the states and deportation.
For all of these reasons and more, it’s vitally important that someone who’s facing an investigation or even charges of immigration fraud get in touch with competent legal counsel immediately. But there are so many factors to consider when you’re trying to decide on the right legal firm for you. Along with the requisite amount of experience, you’ll want a group of attorneys who have experience dealing with the immigration system at the federal level. You’ll need a legal firm like the Norman Spencer Law Group.
- What is an investigation into immigration fraud like?
- What’s some advice to someone who’s facing an investigation into immigration fraud?
- Who should I turn to?
- The Norman Spencer Law Group
Immigration Fraud Defense Lawyers
Immigration fraud crimes are any violation of the US federal law involving making false statements to receive immigration benefits and assisting with Alien Smuggling. Federal criminal lawyers with Norman Spencer Law Group have assisted numerous clients investigated and prosecuted for various immigration crimes.
U.S. Immigration rules and regulations are very complex and ever-changing. This makes it easy for many individuals to cross the line, often unintentionally, and be accused of federal immigration crimes. If this happened to you, an experienced immigration fraud defense lawyer of Norman Spencer Law Group can make all the difference in your criminal case.
Most individuals charged with immigration fraud are aliens and as such, they face the draconian consequences of criminal convictions. However, recently we have seen an increasing number of non-aliens, including employers, attorneys, and documents prepared, prosecuted in federal courts on immigration fraud charges.
Criminal cases involving non-citizens require a lawyer to be experienced in federal criminal work and also understand the issues related to immigration law. We have the knowledge and the experience to take on even the most difficult immigration fraud cases. As immigration fraud defense lawyers, we represent clients charged with:
- Alien Employment Crimes
- Marriage Fraud
- Alien Smuggling
- Immigration Document Fraud
- Making False Statements
- Reentry After Deportation and Illegal Entry
- Deportation Defense
- International Extradition
- Prisoner Transfers
Visa Fraud and Immigration Document Fraud
If you or someone you know has been subject to immigration fraud investigation or prosecution, chances are your case involves the filing of false documents or making false statements. At Norman Spencer Law, our fraud lawyers have represented scores of clients, both aliens, and immigration document preparers, in federal cases involving
- Making false statements on immigration documents
- Filing false immigration documents
- Visa and passport fraud
Making materially false statements on immigration documents and filing false immigration documents are the most commonly prosecuted immigration fraud crimes in federal courts.
Besides regular documents fraud and perjury federal criminal statutes, immigration fraud cases are often prosecuted under the general federal conspiracy statute. This happens when more than one person is involved in the immigration false statement scheme.
What Immigration Documents Can Be Fraudulent?
Making a false statement on or forging any immigration document used to gain entry to the U.S. or to obtain legal status is a crime. That includes visas, permits, or passports (even foreign passports).
How Can I Defend Myself Against a False Statement Charge?
Our experienced immigration fraud lawyers will examine your case carefully to determine, whether any of the available defenses can be raised. It is essential that the statement charged is “material”. If the government can’t prove that the statement is material, the defense of lack of materiality should be raised.
Another issue that must be examined is whether the statement has been made “knowingly” and “willfully”.
In some cases, immigration authorities make the application process unnecessarily complex and confusing, resulting in submitting answers that are considered false statements.
If you are charged with making a false immigration statement or any immigration document fraud crime, you need to reach our team of experienced immigration fraud defense attorneys immediately to discuss your case in confidence.
Marriage Fraud Defense Lawyer
Marriage fraud or “sham marriages” have been the target of federal law enforcement for years and are the majority of all immigration fraud prosecutions across the country.
A marriage between an alien and a U.S. citizen is one of the shortest ways for the alien spouse to obtain permanent residency status (green card). If the marriage is real, of course. A sham marriage is when the parties “marry” only to facilitate the alien’s permanent resident status.
In some sham marriages, the U.S citizen will charge the alien “spouse” a fee to make the “marriage” last until the alien receives the green card. This is the most popular marriage fraud scenario and it often involves multiple participant conspiracies.
In other cases, the alien marries the unsuspecting citizen only to abandon them after getting the green card. Even in cases like this, the alien can be prosecuted for marriage fraud.
Federal law makes sham marriages a felony punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and fines. Our immigration fraud lawyers defend individuals investigated or accused of marriage fraud. Our clients are U.S. spouses and alien spouses, as well as document preparers and others who assisted with sham marriages nationwide.
Most marriage fraud investigations and prosecutions are triggered by CIS agents refusing the petition by the couple because of a suspected sham. In this case, the alien spouse may be subject to deportation and additional charges of marriage fraud may be brought at that time. Some cases are triggered by government cooperators or informers reporting sham marriages to the government.
When dealing with criminal charges involving marriage fraud, we focus on major basic defenses such as lack of criminal intent, severing defendants (allowing each defendant to be tried separately and not jointly), and suppression of statements. Criminal intent is the most important element the government must prove to convict and the defense of lack of criminal defense should be explored to the maximum.
Alien Employment Immigration Fraud Crimes
At Norman Spencer Law Group, our immigration fraud federal criminal lawyers represent corporate and individual employers in criminal investigations and prosecutions involving the illegal employment of aliens.
It is a crime under federal law for an employer to hire someone who is not authorized to work in the United States. That includes any unauthorized alien who is not a green cardholder. The statute provides for criminal and civil sanctions for employers who hire unauthorized workers.
Employers may be prosecuted for hiring illegal aliens in several situations including:
- Hiring unauthorized aliens intentionally
- Failing to verify the employment document required by Form I-9
- Hiring unauthorized aliens as independent contractors in order to avoid having to verify their employment authorization
- Falsely making verification documents
In many federal courts across the country, federal prosecutors have used the “alien harboring” statute to prosecute employers who hire at least 10 aliens within a one-year period knowing that the aliens are unauthorized to work.
We have solid experience representing clients in government investigations. In employment cases, before criminal charges are filed, ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) may subpoena employers for Form I-9 copies or their testimony. Then ICE will determine whether they will refer the case over to the federal prosecutor.
This time is crucial in determining whether the case will turn criminal or will be handled administratively. Early intervention by our attorneys may in some situations prevent our clients from being prosecuted in the first place.
If criminal charges are brought, we will explore any available defense that would benefit the client. In illegal alien employment prosecutions, some of the defenses that may be raised include:
- Invoking the employees’ (not employers’) Fourth Amendment right to privacy
- The good faith defense, in which the argument is that the employer made a good faith effort to comply with the verification requirement.
What Is Alien Smuggling and What Is The Penalty?
Alien smuggling is a federal crime that involves bringing an alien into the U.S. at any place other than a designated port of entry, as well as hiding and transporting aliens.
Alien smuggling prosecutions have become more common now than in the past. Our defense lawyers represent defendants charged with alien smuggling and other immigration crimes.
To convict someone of alien smuggling, the government must prove beyond reasonable doubt several elements:
- That the defendant was in fact brought in the U.S., not at a designated port of entry (airport or seaport)
- That the defendant knew that the person brought in was an alien
- That the defendant acted with the specific intent to violate the U.S. immigration laws
- That the person involved was in fact an alien
A conviction for alien smuggling can result in significant prison terms, including the three-year mandatory minimum in cases where the crime was committed for financial gain. Also, a conviction in alien smuggling will result in the automatic deportation of the defendant if the defendant is not a U.S. citizen.
How to Defend Against Alien Smuggling Charges
Not every case ends with a trial. But in every criminal case we handle, we always examine any defense that could be helpful in preparation for trial. In alien smuggling cases, there are many legal issues an experienced criminal lawyer defending an immigration criminal case will examine.
Amongst the issues that may be raised by the defense are the following:
- In cases where material witnesses have been deported, will their out-of-court statements against the defendant be excluded from evidence?
- Was the person in question an “alien” for the purposes of the statute? To prove that it’s not enough for the government to assume that the person is an alien. They have to provide concrete proof of the fact that the person is not a U.S. citizen.
- Was the person in the U.S. illegally?
- Did the defendant know that the person brought in was an undocumented alien?
- Did the defendant have specific intent to violate U.S. immigration laws?
- Was the defendant actually a smuggler or an alien carrying other alien’s documents?
Defending alien smuggling cases requires extensive knowledge of criminal and immigration laws. Our criminal defense attorneys have solid experience and the ability to defend persons accused of alien smuggling and other immigration crimes anywhere else in the country. Call us today to schedule a confidential consultation to discuss your case.
Immigration Fraud Illegal Re-Entry Defense
Federal law makes it a crime for an alien to reenter the United States after the alien has been deported or “removed”. Special permission from the Department of Homeland Security is required for such aliens to come back to the U.S.
After an alien has been legally “removed” from the United States, federal criminal law makes it a felony for that alien to reenter (or be found in) the country without the approval of the government.
New York immigration defense attorneys of our firm represent individuals charged with illegal re-entry to the United States in New York and anywhere else in the country.
What is “Illegal Reentry”?
In a nutshell, the statute prohibits reentry by an alien who has been
- Denied admission to the U.S.
- Excluded from the U.S.
- Deported or removed from the U.S.
- Voluntarily left the U.S. while under the order of exclusion, deportation, or removal
What Are the Penalties for Illegal Reentry?
Generally, an alien found within the U.S. after being deported or removed is facing a prison term of up to two years and heavy fines. However, if the alien illegally reenters after a criminal felony conviction for a non-aggravated felony, or after three or more misdemeanor convictions for drug crimes or crimes against persons, the law provides for much harsher penalties, including imprisonment for up to 10 years.
If the alien’s prior conviction was for an aggravated felony, the maximum term of imprisonment is 20 years.
What if My Relative is Arrested For Immigration Fraud?
Having a loved one arrested on federal illegal re-entry charges is very stressful on the family. Retaining an experienced immigration defense lawyer early in the process is crucial. Although it sounds unrealistic, in some cases our attorneys may secure release on bail even for immigration defendants. Bail is often denied, though, in cases where ICE has lodged an immigration detainer, also known as an “immigration hold” on the defendant. It is also unlikely for federal courts to grant bail to those previously (and recently) convicted of aggravated felonies.
What Defenses Are Available for Immigration Fraud?
There are several effective defense techniques used in defending illegal entry and re-entry cases. These include:
- The argument that there was a lack of criminal intent for illegal entry
- The argument that there was no “entry”
- Good Faith Defense (during deportation ICE informs the alien that he is not to re-enter within 5 years and the alien thinks that he may re-enter after 5 years).
- Motions to Suppress defendant’s statements to ICE agents and other law enforcement agents
- Suppressing the defendant’s identity
- Motions to Dismiss because the statute of limitations has expired
- Invoking the Speedy Trial Act limitations
- Challenging the legality of deportation
- Challenging government documents
- Invoking the defenses of Duress and Insanity
If you are facing federal investigation or prosecution based on allegations of immigration-related offenses, Norman Spencer Law Group is your choice. Call our office today to discuss your case with one of our federal criminal lawyers!
What is an investigation into immigration fraud like?
Moving to the United States can be daunting, to say the least. Along with the cultural differences that need to be accounted for, immigration law can at best be complex and challenging and at worst be confusing for those whose lives it most directly affects, namely those who are looking to immigrate into the United States.
What’s some advice to someone who’s facing investigation into immigration fraud?
One of the first things that you should keep in mind is that you should never ignore letters from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, or USCIS. This can be detrimental to your situation, so you should respond in a timely fashion to any inquiries. With that said, you should also secure legal counsel immediately. The right defense lawyer will be able to advise you on the proper course to take, not to mention the fact that they’ll be able to get started on mounting the most effective legal defense possible for you.
The next thing you should do is avoid passing information to investigators. While it’s true that you should respond to letters that are sent in official capacity by the USCIS, investigators trying to get in touch with you might try to trip you up and get you into even worse legal trouble. Again, it’s advised that you only speak with authorities when under the direct advisement of your attorney, as they will know how to keep you safe from enforcement actions that would otherwise get you into even worse trouble.
Who Should I Turn To?
When you’re already facing the legal stresses of an investigation into immigration fraud, the last thing you need is to then be faced with the uncertainty of which legal firm would best represent them in federal court. It’s a difficult decision to make in the best of times, but when you take into account that defendants are very often facing penalties as serious as deportation should they be found guilty, it’s abundantly clear that this could be the most important decision that someone facing charges like these ever makes in their life.
Along with the usual considerations to be made, things like experience, you’ll also want to consider things such as the track record of the legal firm in question, how much skill they have representing cases like yours, how long they’ve been representing cases at the federal level, how much experience they have at dealing with federal immigration authorities, and much more.
It’s a lot to consider, especially if you’re already trying to get a handle on what the law itself actually entails. It can be easy to think that any legal firm would be equipped to handle cases like these, but that’s simply not the case. Not all legal firms are equal, and even a firm that has years of experience might not have the specific expertise necessary to defend you at the federal level. State-level cases proceed in an entirely different way from federal cases, and the penalties and stakes are often far higher at the federal level as well. When you add to that the fact that immigration law is always changing, it’s obvious that not just any firm will be the right choice for you.
So who, then? Well, you’ll want a firm that has a proven track record of success, that has the resources to fight your case for as long as it might go on, and who will meet you wherever you might be to ensure the best possible outcome for you.
The Norman Spencer Law Group
The Norman Spencer Law Group is the only firm that has a combined 70 years of experience under its belt and between its attorneys, with 500 cases of immigration fraud already defended in the legal system to this date. We’ve dealt with cases of every size and type, no matter the complexity, and our focus on 1:1 service means that we’ll meet you wherever you are, even if that means having to fly one of our representatives out to you, no matter where you might be in the country.
On top of all of that, we put accessibility first. This starts with our legal consultations, which we’re more than happy to host remotely via services such as Zoom, Skype, or Google Duo. So if you’re facing some sort of legal trouble as it relates to immigration law, get in touch with us today. Tell us a bit about you, what you’re facing, and how we can get in touch with you. Someone from our team will contact you as soon as possible, and we’ll get right to work on getting you the help that you need.