Tue | Oct 16, 2018

Immigration - Beware of bigamy!

Published:Tuesday | January 27, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Hi Mrs Walker-Huntington:

I am married to a Jamaican, but we are separated, and I am living with someone else in the United States of America, and I also have a son with this man. Can the immigration find out that I am married in Jamaica when I file for my citizenship?


Dear SF:

Although your letter is not entirely clear, I selected it for publication because it raises serious issues. Being married to more than one person is considered bigamy. In most states in the US, and in several countries in the world, bigamy is a crime for which you can be incarcerated.

It appears from your letter that you are married to two men or are thinking about marrying a man in the US when you are already married to another man in Jamaica. If you have already married your second husband in the US, while still married to your Jamaican husband, your US marriage is void - it is not legal.

It also appears that you have an immigration issue and probably need to be married to a US citizen in order to remedy your US immigration status. If you proceed with an immigration filing through your US citizen spouse, while knowingly still married to your Jamaican husband, you are also committing immigration fraud. Even if you succeed with fraudulently obtaining your green card, you will always be looking over your shoulder and forever be eligible to be placed in deportation proceedings because of the fraud.

The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the State Department conduct investigations into cases that are filed, even if the parties applying for residency are both in the United States. It is not unheard of for investigators to go to the immigrant's last known address and enquire into the person's marital status and living arrangements and that of their children and family. Granted, DHS and State do not have the resources to investigate every case that is filed, but with today's linkages through computers, they certainly have greater access to information than years ago.

Your letter is also not clear if your child is for your Jamaican husband or the man in America. Either way, it further complicates your situation.

If you have not yet married your American man, then please obtain a divorce from your Jamaican husband. This can be achieved even if you do not know where in Jamaica your husband is currently living. Also, your husband in Jamaica cannot prevent your divorce, he may prolong it, but he cannot stop your divorce.

Please retain a family law and immigration attorney to assist you no matter what stage of your process you currently find yourself as you are flirting with criminal behaviour and immigration fraud.

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 Criminal Justice. Email info@walkerhuntington.com.