In Pasadena, California earlier this week a fraudulent immigration scheme was uncovered when a father and daughter were arrested for arranging fake marriages for immigration purposes. The father and daughter pair are alleged to have been involved in arranging more than 70 fake marriages, as far back as 2006 to the present year. The father, Jason Shaio and the daughter, Lynn Leung are accused of setting up a fake law office in Pasadena, since neither of the pair are attorneys. They are alleged to have recruited Chinese immigrants present in the United States who wished to become a lawful permanent resident by obtaining their “greencard” through marriage to a United States citizen who would be paid for their participation and collaboration.
When an individual is present in the United States, even if unlawfully for many decades, marries a United States citizen, their unlawful status can be cured. This can happen is the United States citizen spouse successfully petitions for the individual and both the petition and application for lawful permanent residency are granted. If the foreign national has entered lawfully, or after being inspected by an immigration officer, the process is much faster than if the individual entered without inspection. Entering without inspection normally means entering the country by crossing the border without being detected by the government. However, if a person entered the country by using a false document and they no longer have any evidence of that entry, that individual would also be classified as having entered without inspection. Entering with inspection means that the individual entered with a valid visa but may have subsequently overstayed the terms and conditions of the visa. It is important that the individual seeking to legalize their status through the petition have proof of their lawful entry, such as a stamp in their passport and an I-94 form.
In either scenario, an I-130 petition is filed by the United States citizen for the foreign national spouse. When the I-130 petition is filed, there are documents required in order to prove the validity of the marriage. The marriage certificate, along with evidence regarding the bona fides of the marriage is required in order to convince the immigration officer that the marriage is authentic. Photographs, bank statements, as well as testimonials from friends and family are often included.
In the marriage fraud scheme that Shiao and Leung were facilitating, they are alleged to have gone so far as to arrange fake honeymoon vacations in order for the couple to prove that the marriage was not purely for immigration purposes.
The process that the duo implemented would cost the client up to $50,000 for their services. There is further evidence that another individual was involved in recruiting the United States citizens who would participate in the scheme and pose as the spouse of the Chinese national. These U.S. citizens were paid up to $10,000 for their participation. It is also alleged that this recruiter, Shannon Mendoza, has still not been located.
Presently, father and daughter face a jail sentence of up to five years if they are convicted of conspiracy to commit immigration fraud.