A few months ago, I got a call from a colleague about one of his friends, Ike (not real name). Ike had gotten himself in a mess. A Nigerian living as an illegal immigrant in the United States, Ike had recently married a U.S.legal resident and only months into the marriage, his wife caught him exchanging inappropriate messages and pictures with another woman. Ike’s wife was raising hell.
While Ike’s wife had filed an adjustment of status application for Ike to get his green card, the application had not been approved. During the phone conversation, my colleague was concerned more about how the recent development might affect Ike’s immigration status; little was said about how reprehensible Ike’s actions were and how betrayed his wife must feel. I deduced that Ike married the U.S. resident just to get his green card through her; that his wife was an innocent victim of immigration fraud.
Also recently, I spoke with another young man living in the U.S. illegally. He was living with an American woman he was engaged to, had a fiancee in Nigeria, and was distressed that his European wife (he married her when he lived in Europe just to get her country’s passport) who was still clearly in love with him had refused to divorce him. This young man in his twenties had three women in his life who believed he loved them. He would divorce the American girl once he got permanent residency in the U.S. regardless of her feelings. I didn’t approve of his actions and I told him that much.
Around the same time I had the conversation with the young man, I was having a chat with someone when I casually asked the person whether her relative who was living in the U.S. was married. She gave me a flippant response: ‘Yes, but not the real one.’
‘Not the real one’ could mean either that the relative entered into a contract with an American who gets paid between 5,000 and 50,000 dollars to pretend to be his wife for two to three years, long enough for him to get his green card, or that the relative duped the ‘wife’ into believing his intentions are true but would divorce him once his papers are approved, just like the young man I mentioned earlier plan to do.
I do not approve of and will not be part of any form of immigration fraud. That said, I find the second scenario more reprehensible. When a man deceives a woman (I read that women deceive men too) into believing he loves her just to get a green card, he dupes not just a faceless government agency (as happens in the first scenario where both parties collude to commit the fraud), but he also dupes the woman into giving him her heart and body–her most priced possessions.
While researching for this post, I read a taped conversation that a victim of such fraud sent to USCIS. In this case, the immigrant spouse had a second language in which he often spoke with a fiancee he had left in his home country prior to migrating to the U.S. The U.S. wife had to use an interpreter before she found out that all the time her husband claimed he loved her, he had a ‘real’ fiancee patiently waiting for him. Why the ‘real’ partners would be complicit in such schemes is beyond me.
The taped conversation which the victim sent to USCIS to revoke her husband’s (Tony) visa went as follows (Sonja was the ‘real’ fiance in the fraudster’s home country) :
Sonja: “Do you promise that when you come back, you won’t bring her [Angela – the U.S wife]?”
Tony: “Don’t be stupid, how can I bring her?”
Sonja: “When are you coming?”
Tony: “Angela suspects something. She told me I must have a girlfriend back in Macedonia, but don’t worry, one more year until I get my permanent green card and after that she can pull my [expletive]! Until then, we have to wait, baby, what can we do?”
Sonja: “One whole year we have to wait?”
Tony: “Yes, but what can we do? I’m coming to see you, I love to see you, to feel you, to make love to you. I need you!”
Sonja: “ I need you too!”
Tony: “ So you need to wait and be calm! Bye for now. I love you!”
You can imagine how used the U.S. wife must feel. I discussed this sort of immigration fraud with a friend expressing how appalled I was by it. But my friend advised not to judge as most people who do it see it as a last resort. Often, she said, they are desperate and risk deportation if they don’t find a lady to marry. Having heard this perspective from my friend, I now understand how dire the situation is for those who follow that route. Nevertheless, I still appeal to your conscience to not dupe a woman for green card for the following reasons: First–the golden rule–don’t do to others what you wouldn’t want done to you (or your daughter). Imagine that 22 years from now, you give out your daughter in marriage and two months after her wedding she comes crying to you that he just realized the man was fake, that he used her to get his papers. If you cannot bear this thought, then please don’t do it to another person’s child.
Second, you can be sent to jail for immigration fraud if you are found out. Note in particular that Polygamy is a ground for deportation.
Third, by engaging in visa fraud, deceiving and juggling two or more women at the same time, you complicate your life in so many ways. If the woman you married to get a green card has a child for you, you tie yourself up for at least eighteen years with child support and custody battles. That is one sure way to not live the American dream. Recently, I read about the tragic story of this Nigerian Couple in Baltimore. Allegedly, the woman had married the man without knowing he was previously married in Nigeria and had three kids. When she found out that the man had been lying all along and now wanted to bring his Nigerian family to the U.S., she moved out of the house. Ultimately, the man killed the U.S. wife and himself over a domestic dispute.
You shouldn’t engage in visa fraud for the additional reason that when you do it, it affects the chances of other people who genuinely find love in and want to migrate to foreign countries. For example, because this sort of fraud is perpetrated more by men than women, I find that girls in the U.S. are often advised against marrying men from Nigeria. But Nigerian women marry U.S. residents in large numbers and nobody raises an eyebrow. (This is one of the reasons I don’t envy men. Immigration benefits aside, a woman has a better chance of marrying well than a man does).
Blaming your duping a woman into marriage for green card on harsh economic conditions in your home country is like justifying robbery by poor people. The woman you marry for green card did not cause you poor (pun intended) lot in life; the argument that you wouldn’t have done it but for desperation is a lame attempt to assuage your conscience.
There are other ways–even if more difficult ways–to get green cards. People get green cards through lottery, employment, as religious workers, etc. But if you consider that marrying a citizen is the only way to avoid deportation, marry someone you love who has the qualities you want. If, for example, you want to have kids, don’t marry a woman that is past menopause except you are willing to adopt. You cannot have your cake and eat it.
For the innocent victims, here are ways to know if that person professing love wants to marry you for card or for love. This website lists the following as signs to watch out for:
1. They don’t introduce you to any friends and family. If your mate is keeping you in hiding, it could be that he/she doesn’t want others to find out about you. If you are suspicious, suggest to your mate that you want to have a big wedding in his home country. His reaction could be telling. And in this era of social media, whether he updates his status on Facebook to show he is involved with you and posts pictures of both of you could be an indication that he is either real or fake. When he posts pictures of the two of you, watch out for comments from his friends that may be suggestive of things he won’t tell you. For example if the age difference between the two of you is wide and such is not popular in his culture, it could be your mate is using you as a passport (pun intended) to a foreign country.
2. They are always asking you for money or things. If after being with your mate for just a few months, you are kind of getting that feeling that you are a personal cash cow, chances are you are. People who marry for green card are often desperate and are usually financially dependent on their victim. If he is financially sufficient in the firs place, he probably wouldn’t be seeking to migrate. Don’t be deceived by flamboyant looks (empty vessels make the loudest noise); that is not what you are looking for. You want to make sure he has a stable job and is not just seeking to escape his hard life by using you as a means. While there is nothing wrong with one’s fortune changing through marriage, that shouldn’t be the primary motivation.
3. He/she is a habitual liar. If your partner keeps changing their story, such as telling you they don’t have any children, and confessing the truth only after you run into a picture, you should be wary of his intentions. If he tells you that he is the chief executive officer of his own company, but after months of dating, you’ve come to find out that they don’t even have a steady job,don’t hang around him any further. If your mate is lying about these things, then chances are they are also lying about their love for you.
4. He/she gets upset when you suggest you both live in his Home Country after tying the knot. If your lover always gets upset whenever you suggest that both of you try and make life in his home country instead of living in your country, it may be an indication that you are just a means of escape from his hard life. For them, you are basically putting a spoke in the wheel of their plans to live the charming life in another country. If he keeps inquiring about your legal status within a short time of meeting you, he may be after your green card not you. To gauge his intentions, if you have nothing against telling a white lie, then you may tell him you have no legal status just to see if he sticks around. If he doesn’t, you are better off.
5. Your new lover tries to rush you into marriage. You hardly know each other, but yet he/she has already settled on the perfect date for the wedding. There is no outward proof of his/her professed love and affection for you and instead of whispering words of affirmation to you, most of your conversations surround what will happen when the ‘papers’ come through. If this is the state of your relationship, don’t marry him. You will regret it later.
6. Your friend tells you he/she is using you. It’s hard to see a person’s fault when you are blinded by love, but if your friends and family tell your that your mate is using you, then chances are that they probably might be. The least you could do is to assess what they have said.
I hope this entry helps at least one person. I wrote this piece because of the experiences I shared and also because I’ve noticed that girls that are legal residents in foreign countries are wary of men from developed countries. This affects the number of men that are able to migrate to developed countries through marriage. The trend can be reversed. If you are a man and you need a green card, find a girl that is a legal resident, marry her, and most importantly, stay with her.
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