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!

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59 thoughts on “Quick Review of “Green Card Marriages””

  1. I am a US citizen. Last year I married a woman from India (the wedding took place in India). About two days later, after going to New Delhi to show photos from the wedding and apply for a K3 visa, her attitude towards me changed dramatically. We did not consummate the marriage; I felt very confused, as if I was doing something wrong.

    Shortly before I left, I handed her the visa documents (reluctantly, because it did not feel like we were married, but I assumed everything would eventually work out). Shortly afterwards, she received a letter from Mumbai giving her a date to go and pick up her visa. By this time, we were not even speaking to each other (this was about 2 months after the wedding). She told me that we would split up once she got to the US. I was absolutely crushed, because I felt like everything was in motion, and I could not stop her from coming to the US.

    Well, after I got back home, I called up some Immigration attorneys and they told me to send a letter to the embassay withdrawing sponsorship. I did that and for the past six months or so, I’ve been in the process of trying to get the marriage annulled; however, I am beginning to be skeptical of my chances because it seems like the judge is going to ask for some sort of evidence. The only thing I have is my word. I feel like it would have been easier to just file for a divorce initially. My attorney is confident that the judge will annul the marriage, but I am really not sure.

    Any ideas?

  2. 1. I am married and my husband and I immigrated from Colombia. He got sponsorship through his job. He currently works on an HB-1 Visa and we are applying for a labor certificate and subsequently a green card. We are however, having marital problems and divorce may be an issue. I am on his application for the labor certificate and subsequent green card. How would a divorce effect my stauts? If I wait for the green card, how soon would I be able to get a divorce after getting my green card?
    Thanks!

  3. I have been married for almost 4 years to an American Citizen. Last September we jointly filed to lift the conditional basis on permanent residency. They told us they would mail the card in about 2-6 months. It has just been 2 months as of this writing.

    Now suddenly, my husband wants a divorce and I am crushed because I love him so much but find that I cannot change his mind.

    My question is, if he decides to file right away for divorce, will it affect my permanent residency status since i dont have the card yet ( i do have my passport stamped that says PROCESSED FOR I-551 dated until Sept 2006)

    Please help ease my mind.

  4. I married an internet Russian woman in Russia and brought her to this country with her 17 yo. daughter. Their green cards arrived May 26 and they were gone May 27 to the Russian community in Denver Co. I am a victim of stupidy and green card scammers. How do I get them out of the country? I’m sure this has happened before. Any advice? Chris H

  5. Hi I am from Australia,I live in New York with my wife(US Citizen).My wife wants to file for separation and possibly for divorce.we passed our 1st green card interview and I got my 2 yr conditional green card 1 month ago,i don’t want to separate but she does, so what do i do?
    What are my options with my immigration status?
    Can i still obtain my permanent green card?
    thanks josh

  6. Josh, I have no idea. Perhaps you could prevail upon your wife to stay married until your immigration process is completed. Or it could be that it no longer matters. I just don’t know.

  7. I married woman in Iran and brought her to this country on May 2007 her green cards arrived june 2007 and she were gone July 3 2007 to her friend in Virgina VA and not coming back. I am a victim of stupidy and green card scammers. How do Divorce her I like get step by step insturction to get divorce from her and get them out of the country? I’m sure this has happened before. Any advice? I need sample letter to the embassay withdrawing sponsorship if anybody has copy to email me. I like to know what is option is ASAP. Thanks MJ

  8. This is not a comment to the above but a new case

    I have been married for 5 months (married October 29th, 2007 and left March 12, 2008) to my k-1 visa fiance and after this short period she left me; she seems to want the green card that will come in couple of weeks. How can I prevent her from practicing fraud and letting me married for 2 years without her around; she will come and meet me just to get the conditional green card.

    Does anybody have a suggestion as to what to do, is there a way of reporting immigration offices about the abandonment and file for divorce. She claims that there was emotional abuse for having ask her to work and help, aside from pushing her to learn english and nothing else and that was the reason she left. It has been 3 1/2 months and she has written 2 e-mails and says that she needs more time.

    Thank you

  9. I am an Indian citizen. I have been married to U.S. Citizen girl. I received my greencard on two year condition. My wife had an affair with somebody else and she left me and got married as per relegious rites before obtaining divorce from me. Now she is going to file for divorce action. I have no difficulty in giving her divorce as she has an affair. I am worried about my status. Because of her action my social life is ruined. Apart from that my legal status is affected. What would happen to me. Can I stay hear after divorce? Will it be possible for me to get permanent greencard even after divorce? It was totally genuine marrige but she duped me.

    Can you please advice me for my legal status?

    Thank you
    Wasim

  10. No, I can’t. Your question is about immigration law rather than family law, and words cannot express how little I know about immigration law.

  11. I am a US citizen petitioning for my spouse to obtain a green card. I began my petition upon returning to the US with my four children about a year ago. I never filed for the k3 file for financial reasons and also I needed time to think away from my husband. Now after a year, I feel his green card is at its final stages and I have decided after thinking over the past 7 years with him, I do not wish to continue and live the way he wants me to. I have informed him that I wish to separate and I don’t want him coming to stay with me after he arrives in the States. He has frightened me quite a bit, basically saying in several conversations that he will be my stalker if I refuse him. He was very abusive towards me in the past, and that has led to my decision that he will never change. Even so, I have not yet canceled because I do believe he has rights to see our children, and I can not be the bad guy and not allow my children to see him as well. I need to know now if I do continue with his petition, can I be held legally accountable for knowingly applying for his entry while I am looking into divorce? Also, if I decide to play it safe and inform the embassy at his location that I do not wish to continue, I am sure he will apply on his own. When he does come to the states, probably a couple years after I cancel, can he use my abrupt stop to the process against me and ask for legal custody of my children (for him missing them after so long)? He comes from one of the few countries left that does not recognize international child abduction. This is also a fear of mine, and if he was ever able to return my children to his home country, (they carry Syrian passports and are not yet but will be soon residents of the US), I will never be able to see them again.

    Thank you,
    Hanah

  12. I have a conditional green card that has been expired.me and my spouse applied to remove the conditional from my green card 2 month ago ,but now my spouse wants divorce and my case not approve yet.. are there any effect on my status if we separate before approve

  13. well i am getting married and i love a turkish man and i also love this american man. i only know this turkish man for 2 mounths and he asked me two marry him and i said let me think about it. i know this amercian man for about 6 mounths and he asked me to marry him and i love both so i dont know what to do i love both but i dont want to be scamed like the people above so i am tering my self apart with wich one i should marry

  14. I (U.S. citizen) married someone from Africa. We have been married for 4 years. About 3weeks ago he got his green card and now wanted a divorce. He said it wasn’t working when he first got married. After he go his green card he didn’t even want to touch me anymore. Now he stays out can comes home when he feels like it. I know he was using me just for a green card and now I want a divorce. What should I do help!!!! PLEASE

  15. may be my experience would be helpful to everyone here. i married a Russian and got married in Russia but was never married in U.S. i helped her to get a marriage visa to U.S. after waited for 7 months for the application to be approved. after she received her visa, she came to U.S. to be with me. however, once she arrived, her attitude changed and constantly caused fight with me and told me she did not want to room with me due to an “intimacy problem” during childhood. four weeks after her arrival, her green card came in the mail, one week later, when i returned home from work, she disappeared along with all her belongings. i was very heart broken but i was nervous that i may be an unwilling and unknowing party to a Visa Fraud situation. i consulted with both family law attorney and immigration law attorney to ensure that i be in compliance with the law. per my attorneys (2 attorneys), i did the following;
    1. i wrote three letters, sent by registered return confirmed mail to CIS (both the local office where we lived and the regional office) and to the US Consulate, to inform CIS the disappearance of my spouse. her SSN, Alien Card ID# and a copy page of her passport. i briefly shared my case in the letter and provided them with a return phone number and address just in case they wanted to contact me.
    2. per my family law attorney advice, i filed in the local court for annulment of my marriage and sent to her Russian home. after she chose not to respond to my suit (perhaps she lied to me about her address). the court ruled to annuled the marriage based on “fraud”.
    3. after the court finalized the annulment due to fraud, i sent the court paper to the same two CIS offices and US consulate thru’ receipt confirmed mail.
    4. i kept all the paperwork in Step 1-3 in good order and file into my safe.

    based on the advice of my attorney, this process offers me the best protection against any government claims that i am a party to this Visa Fraud. like i said, i am an open book, CIS can contact me anyways and i am happy to discuss this case with them in details.

    as to whether this woman can waive her conditional status. it is not for me to be concerned about as this is a matter between her and the CIS. all i am doing is to protect myself from any claims of unknowingly violated the immigration laws. obviously, i would think that the series of official communication i sent to CIS would leave a certain paper trail to make whatever she wanted to do a little more complicated if not difficult.

    hope my little unfortunate experience serves to help others.

  16. Hi, everyone, I am most sorry for those whose spouses left them immediately after receiving “green card”. I have been married to a North African now for one year, and I unfortunately see the writing on the wall. I want to leave before he leaves me. Will he still be able to become a citizen without me??
    WORD OF ADVICE TO THE LADIES…If your fiancee is from Turkey or Morrocco and you are older than him, you are for sure being scammed. Protect your hearts ladies. You are not alone.Check out DanielPipes.org for support and stories of women that marry Muslim men.

  17. I am married to Indian national and my spouse{Ms Kirandeep Brar) arrived in US on marriage visa in 1/08. I have filed for divorce which she has not signed though she moved out on 9/7/08 and currently living with co-worker. What action is regard to deport her to rougue country(India). She might contest. I have no property. Please advise on action reqd. for expediting divorce and deportation. Thanks

  18. Hi, Ive been married almost for 3 years with my husband, i just sent the form i-751 to remove my condition on my residency, we both signed it, I just found out that he is with somebody else, he has been living a double life, I was so mad that I told him I did not want this for me and he left to another state he is now living wiht his lover which does not have papers in this country as far as I heard he plans to give her the papers, I do not want to lose my residency and I would like to divorce him but Im afraid to lose my residency because my removal of condition is still pending what can i do?? please advise me she is always humilliating me telling me that she took away my husband and that she will leave me without papers
    Thanks

  19. I don’t recognize the terms you are using, so I assume that means you’re talking about (a) immigration forms or (b) forms for a state with which I’m not familiar. In either case, I don’t know enough to help. I’m sorry.

  20. Hi I came to the US in 1995 with a student visa and never left the country ever since. I married last year (2007) for the right reasons and we even have a child together. I dont think the marriage is going as good as it should be and am afraid we might end up divorcing sooner or later. If we got a divorce before my petition to remove my temporary status (2 year green card) or before i received my permanent unconditional green card, how will it affect me? will I be able to petition on my own? thanks.

  21. I am Australian, living in Australia. I have been married for 12 years. I have been in another relationship for 12 months with an American girl, who, still lives in the States. We have met on numerous occassions and are totally in love. The only way I can see for us to be together on a permanent basis is to get married. My question is. . .do I need to divorce my Australian wife to be able to move to the US and marry the girl I’m in love with? Would US law recognise my Australin marriage or not?

  22. I have a problem about my marriage, my husband’s family wanted him to divorce me. I’ve been a good wife and mother to our 6 month old baby that we love and adore. My husband is so influenced with everything that his family is telling so many bad things about me. I don’t want to leave my baby daughter, and I have a feeling that they are going to take her away from me. How can i be able to keep my permanent status without my husband’s support? He’s going to take my baby since she is a US citizen. I’m so crushed. Please help me.

  23. I married a filipino woman 26 years younger than me. We lived in New Jersey. Last year my job made me move to Florida. Because my wife had met many Filipino friends she did not want to leave, but she had no choice. A month ago she received her green card. Two weeks ago she said she wanted a divorce and went back to New Jersey to live with friends. Is it easier to get an anullment or a divorce?
    Tom

  24. I was in US currently in india as I am not having good terms with my wife.
    I have green card provided by my spouse cr1. I want to know whether ican got US and still continue working there.

    Can i extend my visa without her sgnature?

  25. I married a filipina and she used me for as much financial gain as she could until I couldn’t take it anymore and filed for divorce. She has assets in the Philippines and is still legally married in the Philippines. Anyone have any Internet resources I can tap into? Thanks…

  26. I have a question. I petitioned for my fiance from the Philippines on a fiance visa. We arrived here in Texas on April 15, 2008, and were married April 18, 2008. By the 1st year anniversary, she decided to leave me because we would have arguements. She has left and is with her oldest sister in Arizona. Right now her case is in Adjustment of Status. It was in deportation court because we traveled to California to see other family members in the summer. We were detained at the Border Patrol in El Paso due to not having filed a Conditional Resident Application, which Catholic Services didn’t advise us we had to do. We just recently (January) got out of the deportation proceedings. And the judge transferred the case back to Adjustment of Status court. My question is: WHAT HAPPENS IF I WITHDRAW MY SPONSORSHIP? I don’t what she is doing, and she hardly answers the phone when I call her. Can you please help me. Please email me at txheartbreaker2000@hotmail.com also if you can. Thanks.

  27. I was married in October 2006 and right now, I am having the temporary green card for two years and the date of expiration will be in Sept 2008. I have problems with my husband and he are going to divorce very soon. My problem is I am still taking the last class in college which will begin in June 2008 and I am not sure if I should pay for the international tuition fee or resident tuition fee. Also, since my green card application had cancelled my eligibility to stay in US as a F-1 student, therefore, I am afraid that would violate the law if I file divorce right now. What should I do?

  28. Hello Sir..

    Im married but hs been separated for 4 years now. Im previously a christian but was converetd 2 years ago to islam. I am still in search for my religious Identity as it confused me. I just wanted to satisfy my religious search and at this time I remain an Islam.

    Just last month I filed my divorce to my husband in the Muslim court where divorce is allowed. My husband was a christian. Im a Filipino and divorce is not allowed here exept in the Muslim court, We have annulment here but since it is allowed in the Muslim tribe, I access this scheme. Annulment is too long process.

    I met an Merican man almost a year ago. We meet here in the Philippiens to validate our feelings until we decided to get married soon. It wont matter to him if Im a Muslim..For him religion is not an issue..it has to do with the heart.

    Im expecting my divorce order to be released on september this year. My American boyfriend will come soon to marry me through the civil marriage.

    My question is…. Can my American husband petition me through the K-3 visa so I can enter to the USA? we dont have plan to stay in USA…for us Philippiens is the best palce to retire. But for reason that he wanted me to fly with him to visit his family and relatives in USA, he wanted our marriage to be recognized in the USA so I can fly anytime to USA and Philippiens without the hassle of getting a visitors visa.

    I hope to get light from this uncertainty…

    Thank you so much

    Nenian

  29. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to marry somone that is illegal. Anytime you marry someone that is illegal you never really know if they are marrying you for love or the green card. My woman was so sweet and nice to me before she got the card then all of a sudden I couldn’t even call her anymore at work and her cell phone became disconnected.

    My tips:

    -Think really hard about marrying someone that is illegal. I wouldn’t do it but if you must do this at least do this:
    -Never I repeat never co-sign a credit card or get a car together. Big mistake on my part.
    -If you do have to get married get a prenup agreement.
    -Check out her criminal history and get to know her family and friends.
    -Date several years before getting married.

    Again I wouldn’t get married but it’s your life.

  30. i was dating a turkish man for 1 1/2 yrs i loved him so much…he was so sweet and loving i knew he had a wife and 2 kids in turkey. he has been in the usa 9 yrs and his visa expired a long time before i met him we met as a joke at first his cousin asked if i would marry his cousin for a green card and he would pay me i thought he was kidding I had never met anyone from another country….well i told him no way i would never marry him. my beliefs about marriage had to do with love not money. anyway we dated and i fell in love and over time he claimed he had fallen in love with me. he divorced his wife although i knew he would have to do that to get a green card and she knew it too. i read a lot about how these men use woman and about green card scams so i never belived him enough to think about marriage i told him i would always wonder if he used me. we broke up so many times cause of my mistrust in him..i had a hard time with his daily contact with his wife he would always say it was about his kids and that he was talking to his kids she would call but he spoke in turkish so i never knew what he was saying. he said someone from our town (turkish) told his wife about me…he said he told her it was for a green card cause he didnt want her to keep his kids from him. that she threatened to take them away from him…so i was a secret his family and kids didnt know about me and that use to hurt..he told me he told his sister and she refused to speak to him because he claimed to love me- his sister told him he was wrong that his wife had been waiting 8 yrs for him to return how could he do that to her….he would always tell me she wouldnt leave him that she said she would wait forever for him to come back to turkey…so i finally had enough the constant feeling that i was second class to him and the gut feelings that all we where was sex compantionship for him and the closest thing he had to a green card was my love for him. I feel thats why he held on and just used my love for him to try guilt tactics like what if i get pulled over they will send me back to turkey and just all kinds of lies….i still refused to marry him well i have moved away from him and am trying to get my life back…I am so angry inside for the way he used me and my heart aches for the love he once showed me…..he walked away so easy….good luck everyone…dont marry an illegal they have 1 mission a GREEN CARD…:(

  31. i have a friend who wants out of the marriage but spouse wont sign for the green card, there is a 24 year difference between them and no love, cam th friend refile for own green card or should they wait?

  32. my husband (u.s citizen ) didnt file my green card application paper yet .
    but i want to divorce and remarry with other guy (us citizen) . should i wait to get citizenship? or what can i do?

  33. Not sure how I can solve this problem. I’m a US Citizen and I married my Filipina wife here on a K-1 Visa. We have a 1yr 3mo old child together also. Which our son has full US Citizenship. My question is: I would like to get a divorce. We have been married for almost 4 months now and I’m very unhappy in the marriage. We argue alot and when we aren’t arguing we don’t ever talk. I just want to know what my options are. Is there a waiting time before you can get a divorce?? Sure would like any thoughts you have.. Thank you for your time!! Darrin

  34. I assume that “here” is in the US. If so, I am unaware of any waiting period required simply because your wife is an alien. I should caution you, however, that I know nothing — and I do mean nothing — about immigration law.

  35. My ex whom I have a child with, married a girl from brazil so she can get her greencard. well after 4-5 years they are getting a divorse and now he is with someone from russia and is having another child…which he doesnt see his other 2 he already has….is this legal?

  36. my husband is in US working as a caregiver for almost 2 yrs now and he is an illigal alien. i do not know that he filed divorce until i receive a letter request to enter default. we are both filipino citizen. how come this happen? i never receive any documents from him or even at the US embassy that he is asking for divorce yet there is a tentative rulings w/ regards to our case. my husband told me that to get marry to a US citizen is the easiest way to have a greencard which i dont agree because that is fraud. please help me..

  37. OK, I got to this web page because I typed in a question concerning green card/divorce, even the heading states,”Quick Review, of Green Card Marriages”, so without being rude by coming straight to the point, how come you can’t help anyone here?
    It has been difficult enough to find any information on the web about issues concerning divorce,status,green cards, immigration & marriage, etc. So when i found this place I was very excited. perhaps you could consider changing the heading.
    Thanks
    warm regards,
    Lili

  38. I married to my husband 19 years we both living to gather 27 years my husband divorce me put me in stress to marry someone to get green card I am a 61year of age it hurt so bad that is the disagreement we both have I am a woman of God and I will not compromise the word of God to get things done the wrong way please help me am hurting

  39. my boyfriend and I have been together for 6 years a couple days ago I find out that last month he got married to a girl from Malaysia to get her to America he never told me I found out through social media of them displaying their pictures of course I was shocked and didn’t understand it because he was with me and my child every night his daughter when I confronted him he said he was helping out a friend get a green card I’m so lost right now on what to do can somebody please give me information

    1. The what you should do part is easy. Walk away. You’ve got no business staying with any man who secretly marries someone else while romantically involved with you. I’ll leave it to you whether you actually do that, but there’s no question about what you SHOULD do.

  40. Hi.
    I’m married to American citizen and I have permanent green card now, when we got married he physically abused when he was abusing me he will either take me for shopping the next day buy me flowers or give me pocket money, he will begg me not to call the police on him I never did because he was my husband, he stopped heating me and started saying hurtful words I cried all the time and asked him what did I ever do to him that he makes me feel horrible about myself, he do tell me to go kill myself he do insult my family he will tell me I don’t clean well even if the house his sparkling clean, he started accusing me off cheating by the time he was doing all this I was driving I didn’t know anyone to talk to or know anywhere to go, in 2013 he told me to go find myself a man who can live with me and provide for me at the moment I asked myself why did he marry me and why does he treat me the way he does so I closed my heart and said he doesn’t deserve ito we’re half age I thought since he was mature he wanted the best for me because my friend and my family didn’t want me to relocate, he met me when I was 19 and he was 46 but he told me he was 35 and to find out he was way older than me I was already pregnant with our first child who’s now 5, he make me fake promises eatc, in 2015 I met this guy and we fall in love I’m still married my husband started sexual harassing me, he threw me out of the house and that guy’s family took me in he went and told theme to throw me out that I need to be on the streets but they said they won’t do that, Has many things has happened I end up sleeping with that guy and now I’m pregnant my husband want me to abortion but I don’t want abortion, his saying that he will fall annulment divorce, also he has threatened me many times than if I left I won’t leave with any of our children and he will make sure I’m miserable, he has told my family things are lies he twins stories, sometime he pretends his me so he chats with my friends and family to hear what they say, I hopelessly don’t know what to do, please help.

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