Marriage Fraud: Controls in Most Countries Surveyed Stronger Than in U.S.

GGD-86-104BR: Published: Jul 14, 1986. Publicly Released: Jul 16, 1986.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO surveyed 12 other countries to determine what controls they use to prevent immigration marriage fraud. Congress is considering legislation to curb such fraud, which involves aliens and citizens or permanent residents entering marriages of convenience to change the aliens' immigration status.

GAO found that: (1) the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) estimated that nearly 30 percent of the alien spouses who entered the United States in 1984 were involved in suspicious marital relationships; and (2) from 1978 to 1985, the total number of immigrants dropped 5.2 percent, but the number of immigrants acquiring status as spouses increased 59 percent. GAO also found that other countries use a variety of measures to curb immigration marriage fraud, including: (1) requiring alien spouses to fulfill conditional residency requirements and furnish evidence of a continuing marital relationship; (2) requiring alien fiancees to have personally met their future spouses before visa approval; (3) imposing criminal penalties or deportation for aliens who attempt to procure immigrant status by marriage fraud; and (4) notifying immigration officials when a marriage involving an alien is terminated. GAO noted that Congress is considering legislation that would include such measures.

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