The Consequences of Submitting Fake Documents for a US Visa

Published: 28th June 2010
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This is an overview of the consequences a person may face for submitting false documents in order to get a green card. Anyone submitting documents to US immigration must comply with a number of document requirements under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

Attempts to circumvent these requirements, such an alien may be subjected to civil penalties and denied certain immigration benefit. If the person uses, acquires, or produces fraudulent documents for immigration-related purposes.

Additionally, certain fraudulent actions may carry criminal penalties under both the INA or the United States Criminal Code. The INA § 274C prohibits the fraudulent production, use, or possession of documents in order to either (1) acquire benefits under the INA or (2) satisfy an INA requirement.

Specifically, INA § 274C makes it unlawful for any person or entity to knowingly forge, counterfeit, alter, or falsely make6 any document for the purpose of satisfying an INA requirement or obtaining a benefit under the INA. Further, any attempt to attempt to use, possess, obtain, accept, receive, or provide any forged, counterfeit, altered, or falsely made document for the purpose of satisfying an INA requirement or obtaining a benefit under the INA. The federal statute also makes is unlawful to accept, receive or provide any document lawfully issued to or with respect to a person other than the possessor for the purpose of complying with INA § 274A(b) (relating to alien employment verification) or obtaining a benefit under the INA.

For visa agents, applicants, and attorneys, it is prohibited to prepare, file, or assist another in preparing or filing, any application for benefits under the INA, or any document required under the INA, or any document submitted in connection with such application or document, with knowledge or in reckless disregard of the fact that such application or document was falsely made or, in whole or in part, does not relate to the person on whose behalf it was or is being submitted. This also applies when the person present before boarding an airplane for the purpose of coming to the United States a document which relates to the alien's eligibility to enter the United States, and subsequently fail to present such document to an immigration officer.

Persons or entities found to have violated INA § 274C may be ordered to cease and desist engaging in the unlawful activity and assessed a civil money penalty. In the case of first-time offenders, this penalty is between $275 and $2,200 for each fraudulent document or proscribed activity (and between $250 and $2,000 for each violation prior to September 1999).

For subsequent offenses, the civil penalty is between $2,200 and $5,500 (and between $2,000 and $5,000 for each violation prior to September 1999).

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