Immigration Corner | Did my friend create a problem?
My friends are married; the wife is a Green Card holder since 2015 and the husband didn't have a visa at the time of marriage. They married in July 2016.
After receiving the green card in September 2015, she went to the United States (US) until May 2016 and returned home where she got married to her husband. In September 2016, the husband applied for a visa, but didn't state that he was married on the application and wasn't asked at the interview. He obtained a B2 visa.
The wife went back to the US in the first week of October 2016 and the husband followed the second week of October 2016. He stated that the reason for visit was to complete a short-course study and visit family and friends, the same reason he used when he applied for the visa. He told immigration that he was only staying a month, however, he extended his stay to five months, but did not overstay.
He returned home in March 2017 and his wife returned in May 2017. They stayed together in their home country until December 2017, when they both returned to the US together - the husband didn't mention he was travelling with his wife. When asked, he said he was travelling alone and that he was visiting family and friends for three days.
Immigration granted him seven days in the US and they had him in the back room questioning his visit. He did not overstay. He is now back home and his wife is in the US. Although the couple married in 2016 the official marriage certificate was only collected in June 2017. The wife is now 20 and the husband is 21.
Do you see this couple having any problem if the wife was to file for the husband?
I am sure your friend knew that what he did was wrong.
In essence, he committed immigration fraud - by not revealing that he was married on his non-immigrant visa application in the hope of receiving an immigration benefit - the non-immigrant visa. It is obvious he wanted to deceive both the Embassy that issued the visa, and the customs and border protection agents at the airport because he failed to reveal that he was traveling with his wife during their trip together to the US.
This fraud will certainly be revealed when his wife files a petition for him to live in the US permanently and their marriage certificate has to be presented. It matters not that he did not collect his marriage certificate for a year or more after his marriage - the fact is that he was married in 2016.
This is a case of short-term gain and long-term pain and could be a case of young people blinded by love and their need to be together. However, immigration will not view their case as such - it will be seen as fraud. This was totally unnecessary, as he has a relative who is qualified to file a petition for him to live in the United States - his wife. It takes a green card holder filing for a spouse approximately two years for the spouse to receive their green card.
When they apply for the husband's residency, they need to ensure that the applications are truthful. It will result in the fraud being detected, but fortunately, there is a waiver available in this circumstance. The fraud will be detected whether they reveal it or not - but they do not want a second instance of fraud by trying to hide the initial fraud. The petitioner/wife will have to demonstrate that she is experiencing extreme hardship that will only be relieved if her husband is allowed to migrate, and that she cannot return to their home country to live with her husband. The addition of the waiver is going to extend the total processing time - to at least three years.
- Dahlia A. Walker-Huntington, Esq, is a Jamaican-American attorney who practises immigration law in the United States; and family, criminal, international & personal injury law in Florida. She is a mediator, arbitrator and special magistrate in Broward County, Florida. email@example.com