Attorney at Law

Immigration Marriage Fraud Amendments Act of 1986

What Is The Immigration Marriage Fraud Amendments Act of 1986?

The Immigration Marriage Fraud Amendments Act of 1986, also known as H.R. 3737(99th), is a collection of changes passed by President Ronald Reagan the same year as the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986. The purpose of the Immigration Marriage Fraud Amendments Act of 1986 was to institute changes that would deter marriage fraud committed by foreign aliens.

The Immigration Marriage Fraud Amendments Act of 1986 modified the Immigration and Nationality Act by instituting a period of conditional residence for the immigrant rather than automatically conferring permanent resident status upon marriage. This conditional status could be removed by applying with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office once the necessary requirements have been fulfilled. 

Individuals who fail to meet the new requirements under the Marriage Fraud Amendments of 1986 by the end of their period of conditional residence may find themselves unable to remain in the nation and potentially face apprehension or deportation. The Immigration Marriage Fraud Amendments Act of 1986 also includes provisions that allow immigrants the right to contest the revocation of their status. It also grants the Attorney General authority to waive requirements in the event of significant or undue hardship.

Key Takeaways 

  • The Immigration Marriage Fraud Amendments Act of 1986 was a legislative action that imposed additional rules on visas issued to immigrant spouses of U.S. citizens.
  • Under the new provisions of the Act, the foreign spouse only receives conditional two-year residence permission with the possibility of lifting the conditional limits proper permanent resident status being awarded if the marriage lasts.
  • Before the institution of the Immigration Marriage Fraud Amendments Act, the law was concerned about the validity of the marriage at its inception rather than its long-term viability. 
  • If you are seeking a spousal visa under the conditions of the Immigration Marriage Fraud Amendments Act, an experienced Immigration Law attorney may be able to advise and advocate for you in order to improve the outcome of your case by utilizing experience and expert knowledge.

The Immigration Marriage Fraud Amendments Act of 1986 and Immigration Law 

The Immigration Marriage Fraud Amendments Act of 1986 aimed at a particular area of immigration: spousal marriage visas. The general idea was that a U.S. citizen marries a foreign national intending to grant them citizenship or permanent residence through their marriage despite not wanting to marry the person.

The Immigration Marriage Fraud Amendments Act added a new subsection to the Immigration and Nationality Act that now provides legal ramifications for committing immigration-related marriage fraud. Under § 1325(c), immigration-related marriage fraud can be punished by a prison sentence of up to five years and a $250,000 fine. § 1325(c) also explicitly defines a person guilty of immigration-related marriage fraud as anyone who “knowingly enters into a marriage for the purpose of evading any provision of the immigration laws.”

Before the institution of the Immigration Marriage Fraud Amendments Act, immigration marriage fraud was very narrowly defined. Typically to prove immigration marriage fraud, it had to be shown that the U.S. citizen was paid to marry their immigrant spouse or that neither member of the marriage intended to live together after the marriage ceremony was certified. In these cases, if the couple followed all state laws regarding marriage, completed the ceremony, and testified before Immigration and Nationality Services that they subjectively believed that they were truthful and in compliance with the necessary rules, they were generally seen to have not committed fraud. 

This legal grey area came to a head with the supreme court case United States v. Qaisi. In this case, the defendant and his wife were married, but the marriage turned sour. Although there were several legal complexities regarding the defendant’s behavior, the court ultimately ruled that as long as the initial marriage is valid and proper, the law did not require that the union be viable long-term. 

This loophole was addressed by the Immigration Marriage Fraud Amendments Act of 1986 by instituting a two-year conditional residence. If at the end of this period, the couple is still married and the family unit still exists, then the foreign spouse can apply to have their conditional resident status removed and be awarded the full lawful permanent resident status.

Bottom Line

If you are an immigrant looking to take advantage of the path to citizenship established by the Immigration Marriage Fraud Act of 1986, you will need the help of an experienced Immigration Law attorney. An Immigration Law attorney will be able to advise you and advocate on your behalf to get you the best possible outcome for your case.

Using their legal expertise, trial tactics, and expert witnesses, your Immigration Law attorney can explore your alternative options to deportation as well as present your case in the most compelling light possible and deftly navigate the complex processes of immigration bureaucracy as well as the obscure functions of immigration court.

Ask a Lawyer

Ask your own question and get advice from expert attorneys
Ask Question

Featured Immigration Law Lawyers

Paz Law

5 years in practice
Auto Accidents, Immigration Law, Personal Injury
View Profile

Crawford Immigration Law

5 years in practice
Immigration Law
View Profile

Bueno Law Office

7 years in practice
Citizenship, Immigration Law, Marriage & Fiancee Visas
View Profile

Law Office of Scott Herlihy

27 years in practice
Alimony, At-Fault Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Divorce & Family Law
View Profile

RYTELAW-Payman Bafekr, Esq.

1 years in practice
Auto Accidents, Bad Faith Insurance, Bicycle Accidents, Contract Law, Insurance Law
View Profile

Issa Law, LLC

13 years in practice
Auto Accidents, Bicycle Accidents, Criminal Defense, DUI Law, Motorcycle Accidents
View Profile


Are you looking for an attorney? Do you have questions about a legal case you are facing? Contact us now and we will put you in touch with a lawyer for free.

Related Posts

Medical Waiver
James ParkerAugust 4, 2022
Resident Alien
James ParkerAugust 7, 2022
Lia Kopin-GreenMay 2, 2024
Treaty Traders and Investors
James ParkerAugust 18, 2022
Attorney At Law is changing how clients connect with lawyers. By providing an innovative platform to lawyers who want to expand their practice’s reach, AAL is bringing law practices into the future.
6142 Innovation Way
Carlsbad, California 92009
Some of the content of this website may be considered attorney advertising under the rules of certain jurisdictions. The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship.
crossmenuchevron-upchevron-down linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram