Paid Marriage: Immigration Fraud or a Legit Way to Make Money?
We could go two ways here: either say something like “It’s illegal, and you’ll get five years for doing it” or talk about the whole green card marriage thing in more detail. We chose the second option because, let’s be fair: some American men want to get paid to marry foreign women, and some foreign women are ready to pay money to marry foreigners.
There’s a demand, there’s an offer to satisfy the demand—so whether some people like it or not, such marriages are a thing. And here, we’ll tell you the truth about them.
Legal aspects of marriage for citizenship for money
Let’s take a look at some of the most popular questions on the topic.
Is it legal to marry a foreigner for money in the US?
No. It’s illegal to get paid to get married in the United States. The penalty is clear: the green card holder (foreign bride) shall lose their valid immigration status and permanent residence and shall also be imprisoned and fined. The US citizen involved in such actions shall be fined and imprisoned, too, but the penalty depends on whether they entered the marriage willingly or not. So no, getting paid by your future spouse for a green card is 100% not legal.
Does marrying a foreigner make them a citizen?
After the marriage, a foreigner will get a marriage green card, which means they become a permanent resident of the United States. A marriage green card holder can apply for US citizenship after three years.
What are the penalties for marriage fraud?
Here are the possible penalties for both parties:
For the immigrant
Obviously, the immigrant caught loses their permanent resident status, but that’s not all. The immigrant convicted of marriage fraud shall be imprisoned for up to five years and be fined (the maximum fine is $250,000). The citizenship may be revoked, too. And obviously, this will destroy the individual’s eligibility to obtain a valid visa and enter the US in the future—it will be impossible to get even a visitor visa for such a person.
For the U.S. citizen
If a US citizen went into the marriage unaware of the foreign spouse’s intentions, this might be a possible defense. But when it comes to those who got paid for the marriage, well, the level of involvement is the highest for them. For these people, the penalty is the same as for the immigrants (except for deportation)—five years in prison at most and a $250,000 fine (or both).
What you need to know before deciding on a paid marriage for citizenship
If you’re interested in this endeavor, consider the following things you should stay on top of.
What are the risks of getting marriage money for citizenship?
There are lots of them. We are only going to cover the most dangerous ones.
Getting more than 5 years and losing more than $250,000. Yes, you can only get up to five years for this fraud, but it’s not that simple. The point is, it’s often not only about the sham marriage itself. Your future spouse may be a part of a much broader criminal scheme—it might be about money laundering, drug trafficking, identity fraud, etc.
Property division. As Eddie Murphy once said, “Half!” Well, it’s not like the wives automatically get half of the stuff, of course—only the stuff accumulated during the marriage, and only in 50-50 states (“community property states”). For example, the house you owned prior to the marriage is not considered marital property, but some investment assets or businesses are. And remember that the law allows judges to divide assets unequally, and women often tend to be treated more favorably when it comes to the division of assets.
Becoming an alleged abuser. The waiting period for a bride to get her US citizenship is three years, which means she’ll have to live with you for all this time. But some women may choose a faster option: claiming their partner is abusing them and getting help under the VAWA act. All she needs is a marriage certificate, some family photos, and proof of the abuse. Once a scammer, always a scammer, right? As a result, she gets what she needs, and you get in a lot of trouble.
Paying even more. It’s all about the legal responsibility for the financial support of your bride. That’s called the affidavit of support, and in simple words, this means that until she becomes a US citizen (three years at least), you are responsible for her financially. If she quits a job, for example, she can sue you for support, and you can’t report her to the police (because remember—five years and $250,000). It’s a mutually assured destruction situation.
Why would anyone pay someone to get married for the sake of citizenship?
The whole “marrying someone from another country for money” thing might be a little confusing. Why would someone want to marry a US citizen so much that they are ready to pay for it?
Well, the reasons may differ. In most cases, it’s about gaining immigration, residency, and work in the US. But sometimes, it’s darker and more criminal—there are lots of stories about fake foreign spouses who had links with drug trafficking and money laundering. The US citizenship helped them make more money and expand their businesses.
How much can you be paid for marriage to get citizenship?
In some cases, it’s about $50,000, but the price can also be as high as $80,000. There are no statistics to it, as you can probably understand.
What we know is there are also a lot of stories where people were offered $20,000-$30,000 for a marriage. It may look nice at first sight, but hey: you must keep the marriage fraud going for three years at least, and this means you’ll get around $8,000-$9,000 per year. Does it still look like a good deal?
And by the way, you should not expect to get all the money at once. The payment will be in phases: say, if the total price is $30k, you’ll get $5,000 when you give them your passport, then $10,000 when your “bride” or “groom” arrives in the US successfully. The third, largest part is typically paid when the immigrant becomes a US citizen, so you won’t get the whole amount sooner than three years.
How to protect yourself when marrying a foreigner
Men who want to get paid to marry a foreigner often forget about safety. But you can minimize the risks of getting scammed or caught—here are the tips that will help you do everything right. We are in no way recommending doing this, but if you know someone who’s going to do it, well, show these tips to them.
So, first, don’t tell anyone about the real situation. You can’t tell people your foreign bride is only with you for a marriage green card and expect them to be silent about it. It’s not just immigration authorities you need to worry about. Remember, people talk.
Live together. That’s the best and the very first thing you should do in order to make everything look 100% real. You don’t want to arouse suspicion, do you? If you live apart, sooner or later, the authorities catch you. Once they question why you’re living apart, that’s the end of the story.
Do a background check on the person you’re going to “marry.” You can do it yourself, you can hire a PI, it doesn’t matter: what matters is that you must be sure that person is not involved in any criminal activities. Well, except for the one you’re going to perform. It’s vitally important to make sure your “future spouse” is not involved in anything that can lead to you going to prison.
Think twice, and then think again. You’re about to commit a crime and become a criminal. Probably, you will not get more than $30,000 for it, and probably, the next three years of your life are not going to be all sunshine and roses. You can be blackmailed and scammed, you can get involved in something more serious than marriage fraud, and it can go much more wrong, actually. There are no guarantees that everything will go smoothly and even after these three years, they can still catch you. We don’t say they will, but they can—and if you’re ok with it, then… Think again.
How to marry a foreigner for money in 2023?
If you still want to marry an immigrant for money, there are two options you can use: offline and online. Personally, we recommend you focus on the latter option. It’s faster and more convenient, and obviously, it’s much safer to find someone interested in a fiancé visa on a dating website than offline. Here’s what the process looks like:
- First, you find a dating website. It’s important to read the reviews and test the platforms in order to not get scammed and lose your money.
- Then, you sign up and upload some pictures. It’s not really necessary if you’re only interested in getting paid to marry, but remember, everything must look real.
- After that, you chat with people. That’s when you find the right person.
- Then, you meet them in person. It’s impossible to get a K-1 temporary visa without at least one real meeting.
- After that, your bride gets her visa and enters the country legally.
- After her arrival, you marry her, and she gets her own green card. Domestic partnerships and civil unions are not an option, only a real marriage recognized by a state.
There are no special websites for those who want to break the immigration law, of course. You can either get on the dark web (but the chances are very high that you’ll get scammed there), or you can try international dating websites. They have tens of thousands of users, and it’s possible to find women who would be more interested in becoming green card holders than finding a real romantic relationship there.
Best websites for marriage for money
Here’s what we can say here: in our opinion, you should not get paid to marry for citizenship. We are not talking about romantic things like “you can’t find real love this way,” and we don’t want to scare you because, well, let’s be honest: a lot of people don’t get caught for it.
Our decision has been made for pragmatic reasons purely. There are too many problems and too many steps where everything can go wrong, and the financial gain is not that serious to risk it all. You can get $30,000 or $50,000 for three years of your life, but after that, you can lose $250,000 and who knows how much more if it turns out that your “wife” is involved in something more criminal than breaking the immigration laws.
If she is involved in money laundering, for example, the fine can be doubled (or it may be twice the amount of the laundered funds) and the prison term can be quadrupled (up to 20 years). We believe that the very possibility of such punishment should eliminate all your doubts. But of course, it’s up to you to decide.