Wed | Oct 20, 2021

Immigration Corner | This is marriage fraud

Published:Tuesday | September 21, 2021 | 12:05 AM

Dear Mrs Walker-Huntington,

My spouse met a family friend who agreed to help him get his green card by marrying him. She works at a medical centre and has her child’s father on child support.

Can the child support issue affect the process?

– GJ

Dear GJ,

The fact that you said your “spouse” indicates to me that you have an intimate relationship with this man, if not a legal one, but you are both considering him marrying someone else to get a green card. This is a disaster waiting to happen.

First of all, a “spouse” is your legal partner. I am aware that in Jamaica the word “spouse” has lately taken on the meaning that two people are in a committed relationship but not legally married. I urge people not to use the word “spouse” unless you are legally married. People use this word incorrectly, and it has led to many devastating immigration consequences with allegations of fraud.

Second, it appears that your boyfriend and you are preparing for him to marry a family friend only to get a green card. That is marriage fraud. While there are many unconventional marriages, when a green card involves a couple, they must marry for love with the intention of sharing their lives. Half of all marriages in America end in divorce and marriages break down for a myriad of reasons, the intent of the parties at the inception of the marriage is what governs for immigration purposes.

The couple in an immigration marriage must also be prepared to live together and to share their assets and debts. Situations such as you are proposing would be fraudulent, and there are countless horror stories of the arrangement going wrong – not the least of which is immigration being aware of it and the American citizen being exposed to imprisonment and a fine and the immigrant being barred for life under allegations of marriage fraud. I know that there are people who will tell you that it can be done, but please be cautious of people who encourage you to engage in fraudulent behaviour.

You did not indicate if your boyfriend is in the United States or Jamaica, but while this may seem to be the answer to his prayers, I encourage you to look at the long-term consequences of such a move. So often the American citizen changes their mind about the process, leaving the immigrant in a deeper hole after filing for the green card. Sometimes they meet someone with whom they want to engage in an authentic relationship and want out of the fraudulent marriage. Other times, the American citizen demands ongoing payment that the immigrant cannot fulfil.

Your ultimate question was whether the child support the woman receives would affect the process, and the answer is no.

Dahlia A. Walker-Huntington, Esq is a Jamaican-American attorney who practises immigration law in the United States; and family, criminal and international law in Florida. She is a diversity and inclusion consultant, mediator and former special magistrate and hearing officer in Broward County, Florida.