Marriage Based Adjustment of Status – Foreign nationals seeking visas paid up to $20,000 to marry U.S. citizens

Here we go again. A federal grand jury has indicted a former Sacramento immigration consultant and 13 other individuals alleging they participated in an elaborate immigration fraud scheme in which foreign nationals from Eastern Europe and Russia paid to enter into sham marriages with locally recruited U.S. citizens.

For foreign nationals, marriage to an American citizen is one means of obtaining lawful permanent residency in the United States. To initiate that process, aliens who are outside the country must apply for a fiancé visa, which enables them to travel to the United States to marry the citizen spouse. Alternatively, foreign nationals who are already in the United States and entered the country legally, may wed here and apply for lawful permanent residence based upon the marriage.

According to court documents, the scheme involved foreign nationals from Eastern Europe and Russia who paid fees of up to five figures to enter into sham marriages with U.S. citizens. U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced the unsealing of the multi-count indictment charging former immigration consultant Sergey Potepalov, 55, of Citrus Heights, Calif., and the other defendants with conspiring to commit marriage fraud, defrauding the United States, making false statements, and inducing aliens to enter and remain in the United States.

This case is the product of an ongoing long-term investigation spearheaded by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), with substantial assistance from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service. Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel S. McConkie is prosecuting the case.

The maximum penalty for the first three conspiracies alleged in the indictment is up to five years in prison. The latter conspiracy carries a maximum penalty of up to 10 years in prison. Unfortunately, Immigration fraud is on the rise as more and more people are trying to immigrate to the US. At the same time criminals are using the desire to immigrate to the US to make lots of money. We command the government for busting this ring and hope this will teach a lesson for those attempting to profit from fraud marriage schemes.