For Love or a Green Card?

A recent warning published by the U.S. Department of State urged U.S. citizens to be aware of internet dating and romance scams directed towards them. Scammers will fake friendships, profess romantic interest, or express marriage intentions over the internet in order to steal money or get a marriage based green card.

We represent many couples who have met over the internet, fallen in love, married and are now living their happily ever after.  However, individuals who meet and fall in love with a foreign national over the internet must be aware of potential “heartbreakers,” foreign nationals that scam U.S. citizens into believing that their feelings of love are true when they actually just want a green card.   Since marriage to a U.S. citizen is the quickest and easiest path toward becoming a green card holder, foreign nationals have increasingly targeted and used marriage to U.S. citizens as a means to obtaining a green card. Scammers will often profess their love to the U.S. citizen, or share a false heart-breaking story, in hopes that the U.S. citizen will propose so that the scammer can get a green card. After a marriage-based green card has been granted, the USCIS almost never revokes it.

Scam marriages have cast a shadow of illegitimacy over real marriages and, as a result, legitimate couples are forced to navigate an extremely strict and difficult application process. USCIS and the State Department agents try in good faith to screen out fraudulent couples by asking difficult interview questions and requiring extensive information about both the U.S. citizen and the foreign national.

Some key signs of romance scams may include:

  • The scammer may initially claim to be a native-born U.S. citizen to put you at ease, but has a thick accent or uses poor grammar indicative of a non-native English speaker.
  • The scammer asks you for money to get out of a “bad situation,” often having individuals pretending to be doctors, lawyers, or police officers asking that the money be sent to an institution, such as a hospital.
  • The passport sent to “prove” the individual’s identity looks computerized and includes a very attractive photo that looks like it was taken by a professional modeling agency or at a photography studio.

Tips to protect yourself from scammers:

  • Never send money to someone you have not met in person without verifying his/her identity.
  • Do not disclose personal details over the phone, online, or on social networking sites.
  • Refer individuals claiming to be U.S. citizens in distress overseas to the local U.S. embassy or consulate.

Berardi Immigration Law constantly represents marriage based green card applicants, now including applications for same-sex couples.  We encourage individuals to be aware of the potential of romance scams when applying for marriage based green cards. For further information on applying for a marriage based green card, please contact one of our green card attorneys at Berardi Immigration Law.

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