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This month’s featured case is a “marriage visa” case where the U.S. citizen wasn’t really sure that he wanted to get married. Unfortunately, our immigration laws are so difficult to navigate and punitive for the smallest infractions, that the couple really did not know what they should do. She had trouble the last time she came in due to an aggressive Customs Border Protection (CBP, formerly known as INS) agent who questioned all her entries. She was not sure whether she should tell him that she was visiting her boyfriend, her fiancée or just seeing the sights of California once again. Meanwhile, she was in fact looking at different job prospects but was terrified that if the immigration system found that, they would exclude her. Her fears were correct. If immigration believes you are here scouting jobs, you are not likely to make it past the border or – – if you at the airport – – to your luggage.

And as always with these cases, there was a time pressure because she had to leave the country again and was certain that she be unable to get back. Therefore, how would they continue their relationship? Should they get married now. Should she come in on a K-1 fiancée visa later? Should they get married in her home country and he could apply for her as a spouse through consular processing? Should she just leave and hope she gets back in?

Meanwhile, it was clear (to me at least) the U.S. citizen was not quite ready to jump into a lifelong bond. Nevertheless, after hours of discussion and multiple consultations, they finally decide to get married. They did so quickly. And within six months – – actually a little less – she received her work permit and her green card. They then promptly broke up. Too much pressure. Long distance relationships are difficult, cross cultural relationships are difficult, but having the specter of federal immigration law forcing your hand or blocking you from the natural growth of your relationship, is the worst type of pressure. Fortunately, they had followed my advice and documented all the bona fides of their marriage including every picture they had together on their various trips and times together, letters, affidavits from friends and family, purchases, marriage ceremony memorabilia etc. So even those this was short-lived marriage, our office is confident we should be able to remove the conditions when the time comes in less than two years.