How to report a marriage fraud

Updated March 23, 2017

Because marriage provides the fastest path to U.S. citizenship, it has the tendency to be abused. The Unites States issues more than 25 per cent of all green cards to foreign spouses of American citizens. A 2005 report found that at least some suspected terrorists enter the country on green cards obtained through fraudulent marriage. Nevertheless, immigration agents never interview most spouses seeking residency and eventual citizenship. Identifying marriage fraud remains difficult unless someone reports it.

Identify separated spouses. Certain knowledge that a marriage is fraudulent and exists only to gain a residency for a foreign national is hard to come by. But one of the surest signs is when the spouses do not live together. A marriage in which one spouse, a foreign citizen, lives at another address should arouse particular suspicion of marriage fraud.

Identify a suspicious marriage. Besides separated spouses, other indicators of a suspicious marriage include those between people of markedly different age, class, religion, culture or education.

Report a fraudulent marriage to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (I.C.E.). Call I.C.E. at (866) 347-2423 with as much specific information as possible.


Reporting a suspicious couple will likely lead to both spouses being interviewed by a fraud officer. If fraud is detected, the foreign national could be deported, and the case could result in criminal charges.


Reporting marriage fraud should not be done frivolously. Not only is it a waste of valuable resources, but it can potentially cause hardship for a legitimate couple. Not every unusual couple is engaged in a fraudulent marriage.

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About the Author

Joseph Nicholson is an independent analyst whose publishing achievements include a cover feature for "Futures Magazine" and a recurring column in the monthly newsletter of a private mint. He received a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Florida and is currently attending law school in San Francisco.