Sometimes it is difficult for non-citizens who are already living inside the United States to file for a green card via the I-485 application. This is because many working visas are non-immigrant, temporary visas and the individual is essentially “stuck” in that status unless they are to get married to a U.S. citizen or establish some close familial relationship with family members already in the country. Oftentimes, this is not possible as some resident aliens have no other ties to the United States other than their current employer who has agreed to sponsor them.
This is perhaps why fiancé visas have gained popularity over the years. If you meet a U.S. citizen and start a relationship, the incentive of getting married, or at least getting engaged to your partner, ensures that you will be able to file for a green card and have the possibility of living a better life instead of having to immigrate back to your country of origin where their might be scarce economic opportunities in your line of work/profession or a difficult security situation that affects your quality of life.
Still, pursuing a fiancé visa with ill intent, or even with questionable intent, can make matters worse for applicants who are looking to game the system. This blog will be dedicated to better understanding some of the consequences for doing so, and also supplementary evidence that is needed for the fiancé visa.
Case Example: Marrying for a Green Card
The New York Times magazine published a fascinating account recently of an American woman who met an Eastern European man while on a hiking trip. They quickly began to see each other more regularly, and the American woman was under the impression that it was beginning to feel like a real relationship. But only shortly after meeting, the man asked the woman if she would marry him so he could get a green card.
To make matters worse, the woman’s mother was considering reporting the young man to immigration authorities, although no details have been released if the mother actually went through with it.
This story, available here: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/11/magazine/green-card-marriage-scam.html, highlights the very real threat of not simply having an illegitimate relationship, but for potentially dealing with harsher consequences from individuals who don’t realize that making such a report could ruin the rest of the immigrants lives in terms of being able to secure visas or apply for a green card.
In the column, the ethicist covering the story goes more into detail of what could potentially happen if you are reported for trying to marry someone only for the purpose of getting a green card. In short, any non-citizen should realize that being reported to immigration authorities will look bad for their record, if not place them into removal proceedings, and even though they might have not meant any harm by trying to secure a better future, their situation is precarious.
While non-citizens seeking a fiancé visa should avoid the above situation altogether, if they are committing to someone in the U.S. and looking for a real marriage, they should be prepared to show immigration authorities proof that they met their partner in the U.S. and not over Skype, and that the time they spent together was in the immediate two years before filing for a fiancé visa. In addition, saying that you met your partner in the U.S. in the past two years is not enough—you need evidence that you had been spending time together and developing a relationship in America.
Evidence that will suffice on these grounds can include receipts for dinners, receipts for vacations that were booked together, and photographic evidence of special occasions that were spent together in the United States. The problem with the above example is that the non-citizen asked the U.S. citizen to marry him before developing any type of real relationship. If you are going to have a real relationship, then you should also be prepared to show officers your evidence of being together.
Finally, if it is customary for either partners culture to have an engagement party with family members, then you should definitely have one. This will only strengthen the case that the relationship is real, and is also not rushed for the purpose of pursuing a green card since planning an engagement party takes time, money, and effort.