Quick Review of “Green Card Marriages”

My new friend Glen Smith posted to our divorce lawyers mailing list this quick and thoroughly readable description of the procedures involved in proving immigration status by marriage. It’s the clearest statement I’ve seen yet, and Glen has agreed to let me share it with you. It’s in response to a question about a woman who now believes her husband married her solely to make himself eligible for a green card.

Marriage fraud is a violation of the federal Immigration Fraud Act. USCIS [formerly INS] looks upon all green cards through marriage to be fraudulent and you have to prove to them that the marriage was not entered into to gain an immigration benefit. First step is adjudication where all the application forms are gone over with a fine tooth comb and more proofs are demanded of the “bona fides” of the marriage. These proofs include proofs of financial unity etc. Also one thing your client must consider is the Affidavit of Support she filed in which she contracted to support him for up to 10 years. The second step is a face-to-face interview where all the details are gone over again. If the marriage looks absolutely positive — a West European marrying a white U.S. citizen — this interview may be just pro forma. If the immigrant is from a suspect country such as India or any part of Africa the interview can be brutal.

If husband got his green card that means he made it through this first stage. He was given a green card on a conditional basis for two years. The condition is that two years hence they have to go through the whole procedure all over again and show additional proofs that it was and is a genuine marriage. If your client has not filed an I-751 two years after the green card was issued she can refuse to cooperate and he will not have the condition “removed.” The next step then is deportation.

Marriage fraud is generally grounds for an annulment or a divorce. But in every case I have seen it is the defrauded person who is filing. If your client is now claiming that she was defrauded into marrying her just for the purpose of getting the green card she should have no trouble. As she was the defrauded person she would not then be guilty of marriage fraud and thus would not be subject to any action by BCIS.

Speaking practically the government doesn’t do anything against the spouse — even if she were a willing participant. They don’t have enough money to go after illegal aliens and they have even less to prosecute those aiding and abetting it.

By the way, if an alien genuinely marries a U.S. citizen and there is a subsequent divorce this does not prevent him from going the I-751 process on his own and being able to stay here. After all, why should alien/citizen marriages be any longer lasting than citizen/citizen marriages?

Glen is a member of the AILA, the American Immigration Lawyers Association. He doesn’t have a web site, but you can e-mail him if you’d like. Thanks, Glen!

59 comments

  1. Lela says:

    Hi,
    I married a mexican immigrant in October of 2013, he immediately started looking for an immigration lawyer. I thought i was happy and in january of 2014 i found out i was pregnant (on birth control). We filed his conditional green card in February of 2014 and by the end of march he had his card. Almost immediately, he would leave to mexico on and off and i would find out he was cheating, it was the worst year of my life.
    In July of 2014 we got into it and i told him i was revoking sponsership and he got physical. He began leaving for days at a time and when he would come home he would sleep in another room….
    Many more things happened that are just too horrible to recall. In october of 2014, about 4 days before giving birth to our son, he came home at 4 am with hickies on his neck. I kicked him out that second. He came home the next day to pick his stuff up and left to his mistresses house. He has been living there ever since.
    I began divorce proceedings in march of 2015, i was going through a very tough time because he stopped paying me child support altogether. Finally, the divorce was finalized in Mid-December. I sent in my divorce decree right after to immigration. His conditional greencard expired a couple of days ago and my attorney says that i am still obligated by the court to let him see our son. I haven’t denied him our son, but I am wondering if they will send him back to mexico or if they will even try.
    What do i have to do?
    Not that i want him sent back, but if he is going to have my son on his parenting time hours will there be a risk at all to him if he is caught?
    He is over 5k behind on child support already, and honestly, he makes it more difficult for me.to be dropping off the baby wherever he needs him.

    • Lee Borden says:

      It seems obvious to me that you and your Ex are not meant for each other, but you haven’t mentioned anything about his parenting you find objectionable other than his child support delinquency. If that’s your only concern, you’ll just need to stay after the collection efforts, probably with child services rather than with a private attorney, since child services will have better resources for finding him wherever he ends up. If he mistreats your son, you should be prepared to document that and ask the court to do whatever is necessary to protect the child.

  2. Chard says:

    I am US citizen and got married in the philippines 2007. My wife is here in US less than 3 years. She kick me out after she got her green card before 1 year. We are separated for almost 2 years and i filed the divorce. Now she is giving me a hard time for alimony. Do you think is it possible for her to deport in the philippines?

    • Lee Borden says:

      I don’t know what state you are in, so I won’t try to address the likelihood of alimony, although I see you’ve been married less than 10 years. In many states, alimony is generally unlikely after a marriage of less than 10 years. If you’re asking whether you can have her deported because you don’t like her negotiating position, I hope and expect the answer would be no.

  3. Joseph anthony says:

    If i have already obtained my unconditional green card through filing i-751, but my spouse would divorce me and would claim that the marriage was fraudulent, would the unconditional green card that i have be revoked or voided eventhough we went through the i-751 filing already and had been approved?

    • Lee Borden says:

      I think you’re asking an immigration question rather than a family law question. I honestly don’t know the answer. I’m sorry.

  4. Raquel says:

    My niece from Chile been married to a US citizen about a year now, he is an alcoholic, which she notice few days after their marriage, at least a bottle a day of straight drinking of Rum or Vodka. Then he start calling her names, telling her she needed to find a job but no car for her, when he will arrived from work he will inspect the house making sure everything was spotless clean, she is also caring for his 10 years old twins while he at work, and yelling at her 6 years old son calling him names like retard, stupid, yelling at him so laud he just frozen of fear , mother is now taking him to a psychologist to help her son to deal with it, and his nightmares.
    No allowances for her to buy her essential needs, never has bought a piece of clothing for her or his 6 year old stepson.
    Every day is a living nightmare at their home, when his drinking start is accusing her, mocking her, degrading her, trowed her out of the house when he feels like,
    Her two years green card ends in August 2017, by she can apply 3months prior to August next year to remove the temporary green card
    Now I found out three days ago her husband told her to get out of the home becouse he doesn’t need her any longer, and if she wants to stay she needs to get a job and help pay bills, which she is willing to do but the only car at home is his pick up truck and only she can use it for emergency.
    She Cries all the time, feels like a prisoner and now no place to live with her son, he used her and now he doesn’t want to fulfill his obligations, what can she do? She doesn’t wants to go back to her country, why should she? Should she file I751 now and can she move with a friend or relative while filing I -751 She is poor no no eyes and can not afford lawyers,
    Please help, thank you for your time,

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