Green Card Revocable Even During I-751 Process
By Reuben Seguritan
May 2, 2018
When a foreign national obtains a green card through marriage to a US citizen, this green card is conditional until the second anniversary of the marriage. Within 90 days before the second anniversary of the marriage, the US citizen and the foreign national spouse should jointly file the I-751 or Petition to Remove the Conditions of Residence. This is filed in order to remove the conditions imposed on the foreign national spouse’s permanent resident status. Upon approval, the foreign spouse would be issued a new green card without the said conditions.
There are, however, people who are desperate to come to the United States to live and work. A lot of them have no legal way of coming to the United States. Some of them resort to sham marriages to come to the United States. If caught, both the US citizen who was complicit in the fraud and the foreign national face severe consequences and penalties.
The people who enter into these sham marriages might think that they got away with their crime if they reached the point of filing the I-751 petition. But as a recent case proves, the green card can be revoked and cancelled.
This case concerns a woman from Africa who married a US citizen. She entered the United States with a K-1 visa or fiancée visa. She then received her green card which indicated that her lawful permanent resident status was on a conditional basis. Thereafter, she and her husband filed the petition to remove the conditions. While this was pending, the US citizen husband passed away. Then, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) denied the petition and terminated her permanent resident status on the ground that the marriage was primarily entered into in order to secure an immigration benefit. The DHS then commenced deportation proceedings.
The immigration judge upheld the termination of her permanent residence status and ordered her removal. The Board of Immigration Appeals affirmed. She filed a petition for review before the Court of Appeals and the court affirmed the ruling.
The court ruled that the evidence presented showed that the marriage was entered into in order for the woman to enter the United States and get a green card. The woman and the US citizen may have had a relationship in the past, but this relationship ended before she even arrived in the United States. From the time the woman arrived in the United States, they lived separately and had separate bank accounts. It was only later on after they filed the petition to remove the conditions that the woman opened a bank account in both their names. The US citizen’s sister informed the immigration authorities that the marriage was a sham and presented the man’s death certificate which listed him as “never married.” The US citizen also stated his status as “single” in his mortgage, during a medical visit and did not designate the woman as the beneficiary in his life insurance policy, 401(k) or pension plan. The US citizen’s sister was listed as his emergency contact. At the man’s funeral, his sister made all of the arrangements and the program listed all of his relatives, except for the woman. The court found that the actions of the woman when the US citizen died did not show that she was grieving or acting consistent with a woman who has lost her husband.
Furthermore, a friend of the man spoke with the immigration officers and gave a detailed testimony of the couple’s relationship. He said that the woman gave the US citizen $7,000 to marry her and file the necessary immigration papers so that she may live in the United States. The man’s neighbors executed affidavits stating that they never saw the woman in the house of the US citizen, nor did the US citizen ever tell them that he was married.
The government estimates as many as 60,000 of the 200,000 or so marriages are fraudulent. If caught, the US citizen could face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The illegal immigrant, like in the case above, could be deported at any time and the green card revoked.