Sat | Dec 3, 2016

I want to marry a man I've never met

Published:Tuesday | October 21, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Dahlia Walker-Huntington United states
1
2

Dear Mrs Walker-Huntington,

I am a Jamaican and recently I met a gentleman online who is interested in marrying me. He is a born United States (US) citizen and has never left the country, so we have never met in person. We just communicate via Skype, WhatsApp and other social media. We say that we have a cyber-relationship.

I have not yet applied for a visa because I'm not sure which visa I should apply for - the visitor's visa or the fiancée visa - being that we will be getting married as soon as I land in the US. Based on what I'm reading online, since we have never met, it is unwise to apply for the fiancée visa, and it will raise an alarm if I travel on the visitor's visa and get married so quickly. What should I do?

- SG

Dear SG,

There are certain requirements in place when applying for a fiancée visa and they are there to protect the US citizen and the foreign fiancée. In the normal course of relationships, the US citizen petitioner and their foreign fiancée should meet before a fiancée visa will be issued for a foreigner to come to the States and marry. The requirement that the US citizen and the foreign fiancée meet can be overcome if there is a religious reason why the pre-marital meeting cannot take place, or if the US citizen would experience extreme hardship by taking a trip overseas.

There are also certain requirements for obtaining a fiancée visa if you met through an international marriage broker. You are correct that if you apply for and receive a visitor's visa and go to the US and immediately marry the man you met online, it will raise a red flag.

People sometimes marry in the immigration context for the wrong reason. Some US citizens marry foreigners and take them to America and abuse them in many ways - physically, emotionally, and sexually. On the other hand, some foreigners marry US citizens only to obtain permanent resident status in the US while pretending to the US citizen that the marriage is genuine, and some foreigners pay US citizens to marry them.

Because of the high incidence of marriage fraud in the immigration context, all marriages that involve US immigration are highly scrutinised. While many persons develop cyber-relationships that appear and feel very real, there are numerous incidents of people perpetrating fraud all over the Internet - even in cases where immigration is not involved.

My answer to your question of what you should do is that you should meet and get to know this man with whom you are having a cyber-relationship before you marry him. Be truthful in all your visa applications, and in the meantime, encourage him to come to Jamaica and meet you and your family.

Dahlia A. Walker-Huntington is a Jamaican-American attorney who practises immigration law in the United States; and family, criminal and personal injury law in Florida. She is a mediator, arbitrator and special magistrate in Broward County, Florida; and an adjunct professor at Miami Dade College's School of Justice. info@walkerhuntington.com,