Law enforcement authorities in another state recently shut down a marriage fraud scheme involving numerous members of the United States Army. All involved are facing serious charges which, if convicted, carry significant penalties. There are a couple of lessons Michigan residents can learn from this case. First, immigration-related marriage fraud is a grievous criminal offense. Second, it only takes one case like this to make immigration authorities question any marriage between a U.S. citizen and a noncitizen.

According to reports, a 37-year-old male was arrested and charged for his alleged role in coordinating fraudulent marriages between foreign nationals and military service members. The goals of the arranged marriages were to aid immigrants in obtaining lawful permanent residency and allow the soldiers to claim a living allowance so they could pay for off-base residences. What authorities say started with one man quickly grew. At least 10 other soldiers have also been charged for participating in this scheme.

In total, 29 counts have been filed against all 11 individuals. The charges include visa fraud, marriage fraud, harboring immigrants, transporting aliens and unlawful control of U.S. property — among others. Each of the accused, if convicted, faces 25 or more years behind bars.

Fighting immigration-related marriage fraud charges is not easy. Michigan residents who find themselves accused of committing this type of criminal offense can help themselves by seeking assistance as swiftly as possible from legal counsel who has experience handling such cases. While it is impossible to guarantee a particular end result, one’s attorney will work diligently to fight the charges at hand and, if needed and appropriate, defend one’s marriage in an effort to achieve the best possible outcome.