It is not illegal for a U.S. citizen (or anyone else) to marry for money in the U.S. But from what I understand, it is a felony for a U.S. citizen to receive money from a foreign national to enter a sham marriage to facilitate the foreigner's immigration.

A felony charge has to be proved "beyond a reasonable doubt." Does this standard also apply to the foreign national who will have to face deportation?

And suppose there are complicating circumstances. For instance, the U.S. partner really wanted to be married to the other person even if money was a factor, while the foreigner did not. Or vice-versa. Would sanctions then be applied to only the guilty party and not the other?

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    Proof beyond a reasonable doubt is required to convict anyone of anything. However, for the foreign national, the government can simply refuse to issue them a longer-term visa or permanent residency; no conviction needed for that administrative decision. Feb 25, 2017 at 15:08
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    Or to mildly restate the above, proof beyond reasonable doubt is about conviction, which isn't the only stick in the arsenal.
    – user6726
    Feb 25, 2017 at 17:26

1 Answer 1


The standard of proof for a criminal conviction is the same. So they would similarly need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt to convict the foreign national of a crime.

But deportation is not a criminal proceeding, and has a different standard of proof. (In deportation you also don't have criminal defendant rights like right to an attorney if you can't afford one.) I believe the standard is "clear and convincing evidence".

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