By Farhad Sethna, Attorney © 2015
A fiancé(e) visa is a special kind of visa issued to a person who intends to marry a U.S. citizen within ninety days of entry to the United States. In most cases, the U.S. citizen spouse must have met the intending alien spouse within the two-years prior to filing the fiancé(e) visa application.
Thousands of fiancé(e) visas are approved every year, and many fiancé(e)s enter the United States, marry their U.S citizen fiancé(e)s, and thereafter apply for “green cards”, and live “happily ever after”. However, there is a small number of cases in which the alien fiancé(e) may wish to commit fraud to obtain a green card. Sometimes this fraud is with the collusion and assistance of the US citizen spouse, sometimes, the US citizen spouse is a unwitting accomplice.
This article is written specifically for that unwitting U.S. citizen spouse who finds himself or herself in a situation where the alien fiancé(e) has taken advantage of that most precious human emotion- love.
In my own practice, some of the stories and complaints I have heard from aggrieved US citizen spouses involve fiancé(e)s who came to the USA, married their US citizen husband or wife, and then through some dexterity, obtained a green card, and thereafter obtained US citizenship, much the US citizen spouses chagrin.
Naturally, this is a most difficult topic. Most people would not like to admit that they were “taken”, or completely and utterly misled on an issue that is so important and dear to one’s heart. However, these things do happen.
Based on my observations, the following behaviors might serve as warning signs to the US citizen fiancé(e) that all may not necessarily be well and that the citizen fiancé(e) ought to take some additional steps, secure some legal representation, or enquire further before taking any steps or filing any applications.
- Does the alien fiancé(e) tend to want to rush things along?
- Does the alien fiancé(e) say that she or he already has a lawyer, and that everything will be taken care of by their own lawyer?
- Does the alien fiancé(e) present papers to the US citizen fiancé(e) to sign and rush back to the alien fiancé(e) or the lawyer, without giving the US citizen time to review the documents or understand what he or she is signing?
- Does the alien fiancé(e) promise the US citizen fiancé(e) assistance, whether in the form of money, services, education, trips, or any other inducement in order to marry the alien? Ogbolumani v. Neopolitano, 08-143 (7th Cir, 2009)
- Has the alien fiancé(e) announced any kind of plans to travel within the USA or live at a city that is different from where the US citizen fiancé(e) is located, and if so, what was the reason for doing so?
- Does the alien fiancé(e) have a career or profession which he or she wishes to further by coming to the USA?
- Has the alien fiancé(e) approached the US citizen for assistance with loans, repayment of debts in the foreign country, request for support for further education, or any other such obligations in furthering of the alien fiancé(e)’s own professional and personal goals?
- Does the alien fiancé(e) want the US citizen fiancé(e) to add him or her to the US citizen’s bank accounts, leases, or properties, in a hasty rushed fashion?
- Has the alien fiancé(e) given money or lavish gifts to the US citizen fiancé(e) both before and after the marriage that seem disproportionate to the alien fiancé(e)’s income or assets?
- Draining or spending lavishly from the joint bank account that the US citizen spouse set up for the couple with the citizen spouse’s money.
Building a case for a “Green Card”:
In addition, there are strategies that fiancé(e)s can use in order to subsequently bolster their claim for a green card with the US Citizenship and Immigration Service. These include some tactics that fall to the level of being reprehensible, and include:
- Claiming abuse – inciting arguments at home for the purpose of being able to call the police and make police reports declaring that the US citizen fiancé(e) or spouse is an abuser.
- Claiming domestic violence, either through physical abuse or mental abuse, etc, inflicted by the US citizen spouse.
Given the options for securing a “U” visa (victim of crime) or a “battered spouse” petition filed on Form I-360, as well as possible other relief and waivers under the Immigration Act, the Violence Against Women Act, and the Asylum laws, an alien fiancé(e) can find many plausible ways to remain in the USA once he or she has entered the USA.
There are numerous websites and online information available on how an alien fiancé(e) can “scam” an unknowing and oftentimes innocent US citizen spouse as well as the US immigration laws. The US citizen may be getting married for love and affection, and a lifetime companion. The alien spouse may have only one goal in mind: to come to the USA, get a green card, and move on with his or her own life.
A US citizen fiancé(e) is well advised to look at the totality of the circumstances surrounding his or her intended fiancé(e). Study the background and the motives for the fiancé(e)’s intention to enter the USA. Be aware of what the fiancé(e) is saying or doing, and their background, as well as their future plans after entry to the USA. Note whether the fiancé(e) has indicated suspicious indicia, such as wishing to travel and live in another state, reside with family members elsewhere, or pursue an educational or professional career apart from the US citizen spouse.
While the above are not necessarily all indicators of fraud, and the facts and circumstances of every case must be weight on their individual merits, these are some of the factors I have seen that could be warning signs. Fiancé(e) visa fraud scars lives and can place an innocent US citizen spouse in severe financial and legal hardship. Therefore, look before you take that leap of faith!
About the author: Attorney Farhad Sethna has practiced law for over 20 years. Since 1996, he has been an adjunct professor of Immigration Law at the University of Akron, School of Law, in Akron, Ohio. He is a frequent speaker at Continuing Legal Education and professional development seminars on various immigration-related topics. His practice is limited to immigration and small business. With offices in Cuyahoga Falls, Akron and Dover, Ohio, Attorney Sethna represents clients in all types of immigration cases. Our number is: (330)-384-8000. Please send your general immigration questions to AttorneySethna@immigration-america.com. We will try to answer as many questions as possible.
This is only general legal information. Please consult a qualified immigration attorney for advice on your specific case.