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    August 13, 2008

    Marrying for the card....

    Posted by: Andoni

    The insurance card, that is...


    There are many reasons to get married and love is just one of them. In earlier times, people married to combine families, consolidate property and gain more power.

    Now people marry for a host of reasons, including, according to today's New York Times, to help someone get health insurance. Here are just some of the many reasons people marry these days:

    1. love
    2. companionship/loneliness
    3. pregnancy out of wedlock
    4. desire to share your life with someone
    5. it's time/you're too old
    6. financial security
    7. to form a family/have children
    8. household support
    9. help someone get health insurance
    10. help someone get a green card

    All of the above are legal except marrying to help someone get a green card.

    In one of my previous posts, "A tale of 2 immigration systems," Rachel Tiven, Executive Director of Immigration Equality commented that "Entering into a fraudulent marriage only for immigration purposes is illegal.....subjecting you to a five year prison sentence and $250,000 fine."

    So here's my question for you lawyers and lawyer types out there. What if an American citizen marries a foreign national primarily to get companionship (the American is lonely) and in return the foreigner gets health insurance because they couldn't get any on their own.

    Following the wedding, these two don't live together and don't have sex. However, they socialize often and the American is satisfied with the companionship which s/he is getting and heretofore did not have and the foreigner is satisfied with the good health insurance. Also assume they even draw up a contract on the obligation each party has to the other with respect to the companionship and health insurance. Now assume that somewhere along the way, because each party is happy that the contract is working, the American offers to sponsor the foreigner for a green card.

    In this case the green card is simply because that the American doesn't want the foreigner leave or have to leave the country.

    Question for all: Is the situation described above fraud or is it within the law, since the green card was not the sole purpose of this marriage?




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    1. Strict Scrutiny on Aug 13, 2008 10:22:42 AM:

      I'm not an immigration lawyer, so what I am about to say could be wrong, but I think it's correct.

      The marriage you describe above could very well be fraudulent within the scope and meaning of the immigration laws. If you know someone in this situation, I would tell him to consult with an immigration lawyer.

      Let's start with the assumption that we are discussing only heterosexual marriage between adults of legal age and that all other state-law requirements are met.

      An American citizen can marry whomever he or she wishes, foreign or otherwise. However, if he marries a foreign national, there is a presumption that the newly married couple will "act married." That means they will cohabitate, live as a single unit, make life decisions together, etc. In addition, the couple can be questioned by immigration officials about their daily routine, to ensure that they married "for real" and not simply so that a foreigner can get a green card and/or U.S. citizenship. Where foreigners are concerned, it is probably not enough to get married for health benefits and socializing; the couple will need to act and hold themselves out like a traditional married couple. With regard to the contract you mentioned above, state laws frequently impose legal duties and obligations on spouses to support each other, so the contract you mentioned would not be significant.

      Although, as you say, couples can get married for financial reasons or to get health benefits, the unfortunate reality for American/Foreign couples is that they will be scrutinized and held to a higher standard because the immigration laws are so strict.

      The immigration law is complex there are probably some exceptions and "safe harbor" provisions that I don't know about. But overall, I think this is right. You should ask an immigration lawyer for a more technical answer.

    1. elx on Nov 13, 2008 7:01:18 PM:

      U don't have to hide the expiration date on the PR card, it will expires on 02/06/2009. Because it is CF1 card, which is a conditional status granted to aliens who admitted to the US as a finance of a US citizen, this status last for only 2 years.

    1. Pamela on Jan 2, 2010 6:50:21 PM:

      THANK YOU for finally saying what the law really means anyway. American citizens can marry whomever we want for whatever reasons we want (like financial support) as long as the marriage is not ONLY for the purpose of the spouse getting their green card!! I swear, I'm getting so many threats and harassing emails just for trying to find a husband of a certain nationality whom I know still believes in financially supporting their wives when they can't get a job - they're implying that if the situation of, let's say the famous couple from American 1950's sitcoms, "Ozzie and Harriet" - if Ozzie were a foreigner and Harriet had married him to support her, Harriet would have been a "criminal" and "going to jail." Or, maybe not Harriet in that case, but just ME. It's like, these days, the American public assumes that any American citizen seeking to marry a foreigner is automatically committing "fraud." Just because it's a foreigner, no matter what the American's reasons are for wanting a foreigner over another American...American men won't support their wives and just start getting abusive if the wife can't get a job and starts using up all of "his" money for everything. I feel like the American public is telling me that THAT's what I have to put up with because wanting a foreigner because he still believes in supporting his wife happily, is "illegal" and "a sham" and "fraudulent marriage"

    1. Green Card Visa on Mar 11, 2010 10:48:43 AM:

      I believe that, because of all the fraud and manipulation that goes on with this program, there are now strict policies and guidelines in place. I'm pretty sure that a part of those policies include sharing residency and the marriage being one of legitimate love and romance, not convenience and companionship.

    1. Green Card Visa on Jul 12, 2010 2:29:48 PM:

      It certainly sounds like fraud to me. Anything that is not a genuine marriage for the purposes of two people, who are in love, living their days out together, falls under the category of fraud.

    1. Wayne Ricky-Elson Rudder on May 4, 2011 9:37:28 PM:

      The answer above is simplistic. The fact is that under the Immigration law there is no room for a companionship based marriage. The marriage must be a marriage for love and at the interview each will be asked personal questions that only the other knows, such as, "Does he wear boxers or briefs?" "Which side of the bed does he sleep on?" "How often a week do you have sex?" These are just some examples and you would not believe how many people get trapped by the questions. The fact is that the immigration law encourages fraud because it is so archaic and unrealistic. You may get other information at Low Income Immigration Assistance 509 249 0022.

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