A 35-year-old soldier stationed in North Carolina will be deported after she pleaded guilty to visa fraud involving a sham marriage to a U.S. citizen, federal prosecutors said.
Maryam Movsum Hasanova is accused of paying $15,000 for the fraudulent marriage. Prosecutors said she then applied for a green card and began receiving a housing allowance from the U.S. military while stationed at Fort Bragg outside Fayetteville, North Carolina.
A judge in Eastern North Carolina sentenced Hasanova to time served and ordered her to be deported immediately. She will also have to pay the U.S. Army $41,511 in restitution.
“Hasanova’s schemes to circumvent the law have failed and now she will face accountability for her actions,” Special Agent In Charge Ronnie Martinez said in a Tuesday, Dec. 7 news release announcing her sentence. “Protecting the integrity of the nation’s immigration system is of vital importance and HSI prioritizes this mission.”
Public defenders representing Hasanova did not immediately respond to McClatchy News’ request for comment on Wednesday, Dec. 8
A grand jury indicted Hasanova in June.
Prosecutors said she came to the U.S. as an exchange visitor and was introduced to an individual identified in court documents as S.V.M. in early 2015. The pair reportedly met in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
Shortly after their introduction, prosecutors said, S.V.M. agreed in March 2015 to marry Hasanova for $15,000.
The couple spent the remainder of the year taking “staged photographs of themselves” in Pennsylvania and New York and talking via text messages, email and social media, prosecutors said. They were married on Oct. 15, 2015.
Hasanova started the process of applying for lawful permanent residency the following year, according to the indictment. She and S.V.M. went through multiple interviews with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services during which they “attested under oath they were married in good faith,” prosecutors said.
Immigration officials subsequently approved the application and Hasanova received her green card in February 2017, the indictment states.
She joined the U.S. military shortly thereafter and started collecting a housing allowance at the married rate, which the government said typically equates to $1,000 a month. When Hasanova later applied to have the conditional status of her residency removed, she submitted proof of enlistment showing she was a cargo specialist in the U.S. Army, the indictment states.
It wasn’t immediately clear how investigators discovered the alleged fraud, but court filings show Hasanova was arrested at the end of June. A magistrate judge ordered she remain in custody pending trial, citing the weight of evidence against her, lack of family ties and lack of legal status in the country.
Hasanova pleaded guilty to one count of visa fraud in October.