Bought Weddings Unite Cuban Women and Italian Men in US Fraud

Published: 08 September 2021

Citizenship through MarriageFake marriage used to obtain the U.S. permanent residence or citizenship. (Photo: Joshua Woroniecki, Pixabay, License)

By Zdravko Ljubas

Federal prosecutors in the United States have accused the proprietor of a South Florida immigration agency as well as a group of five Cuban women and five Italian men with “marriage fraud” aimed at obtaining a U.S. resident visa unlawfully.

The arranged weddings permitted the foreign men to take advantage of accelerated immigration advantages under the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966, which allows Cuban natives or citizens living in the U.S. who meet certain eligibility requirements to apply for a green card making them lawful permanent U.S. residents.

“Federal prosecutors have charged 47-year-old Miami resident Yamira Sanchez with helping foreign national men fraudulently obtain U.S. green cards by brokering their marriages to Cuban-born women living in South Florida as U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents,” the prosecutor’s office said in a statement Friday.

Sanchez was the owner of Immigration Consultant and Immigration Corp., a South Florida company that provided immigration applications and other services to the public, according to a recently unsealed indictment. Some of the services were illegal, the indictment noted.

“It is alleged that Sanchez and her co-conspirators profited from arranging fraudulent marriages between men from Italy with no legal status in the U.S. and women who had been born in Cuba, immigrated to the U.S., and obtained legal status as U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents,” read the statement.

The indictment states that the men were charged thousands of dollars to marry the women  hired by Sanchez. Immigration petitions were then submitted on their behalf, requesting the U.S. government to award the newly-minted husbands lawful permanent residency status, which allowed them to legally work in the U.S.

“It was Sanchez, through her company, who prepared, notarized, and filed the marriage and immigration paperwork necessary to secure immigration benefits for the Italian men,” according to the indictment, which charged her with “one count of conspiring to commit marriage fraud and five counts of unlawfully encouraging an alien to reside in the U.S.”

If convicted, Sanchez, as well as the five Cuban women and five Italian men, may face “up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to US$250,000.”