What should I do if I believe I am a victim of marriage fraud?

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Question:

I’m a U.S. citizen who fell in love with and married a man from the Philippines who overstayed his tourist visa. His conditional green card was approved two years ago and we recently filed for a ten-year card. Last week, he decided to leave me for another woman and told me that he never loved me. I’m heartbroken and feel like I was conned so that he could fix his papers to stay in the United States! I’m also afraid I’m going to have to support him after all he’s done to me. What can I do to make sure that he doesn’t get his green card?

Answer:

First of all, I’m sorry that this happened to you. More than anything else, it sounds like you need a family law attorney licensed in your state to help you to end your marriage on terms that are most favorable to you. Your divorce or annulment proceedings will determine issues of property division, child custody, and child and spousal support. Depending on the circumstances of your marriage and your state of residence, an annulment based upon fraud may be a good option for you. You should also consult an experienced immigration lawyer who can help you decide what to do next.

If U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) hasn’t made a decision on your Form I-751, Petition to Remove the Conditions of Permanent Residence, you should submit a letter to USCIS asking to withdraw the joint petition and refuse to attend any scheduled interview. Be aware that your husband may still file a new I-751 asking for a waiver of the joint filing requirement. For more on this, see “What if Your U.S. Spouse Won’t Sign the Joint Petition (I-751)?”

If your spouse has already received his ten-year green card, there is little else you can do besides “turn him in” for marriage fraud. You may report your suspicion that you were an innocent victim of a scam to USCIS or Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

However, remember the warning that “anything you say can and will be used against you” applies here. If there is any reason for USCIS or ICE to suspect that you were complicit in the fraudulent marriage, you could also be investigated. To put it bluntly, these immigration agencies “have seen it all.” While a number of U.S. citizens have been duped by green card scammers who pretend to be in love, there have also been plenty of instances where embittered U.S. citizens have reported their immigrant spouses – even if the marriage WAS in good faith.

Also, keep in mind that in order to get your husband’s initial green card application approved, you had to sign Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, a legally binding contract between you and the U.S. government in which you agreed to financially support your non-citizen spouse. Because these types of proceedings are not usually published, it is unknown whether a duped spouse has ever been able to contest his or her liability under the I-864. Divorce will not terminate your obligations under the Affidavit of Support, but those obligations WILL end if he loses his green card and leaves (or is removed from) the United States. See "The U.S. Sponsor's Financial Responsibilities" for more on this.

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