"The numerous arrests of those involved in marriage fraud schemes and the hundreds, if not thousands, of websites that exist solely for the purpose of arranging scam marriages, all indicate that marriage fraud is a serious problem," David Seminara, a former consular officer with the Center for Immigration Studies, wrote in a recent report.
For now, Max, a college student with plans to study engineering in the Ivy League, says he's content just legally married in Florida. Filing the immigration petition can come later, when he and Maria reach a point in their lives to handle an investigation and what they expect will be a hefty legal bill for the process.
"We are not the marriage police," said Rhatigan. "And we are sensitive to different cultures and different customs... Legitimate couples have no reason to be afraid."