He thought he knew her well. A romantic relationship spanning two years gave him the assurance that this was the real deal. She was the love of his life – a match made in heaven. He longed for the time to settle down with his sweetheart and start a family. The plan was for him to obtain a fiancée visa and join her in California. The day finally came when Mark (fictitious name) flew to the US to join his significant other Susan (fictitious name). But he never expected what was about to happen. A few days after his arrival, Susan started to demand money – lots of money.
The wedding was soon in jeopardy. Mark was blindsided by the turn of events. Susan threatened that if there is no payment soon, the wedding is off. Mark’s family and relatives in the U.S. started to panic.
A fiancée may enter the U.S. for a 90-day period to marry the U.S. petitioner and apply for permanent residence. This is a very strict requirement. If one does not marry his fiancée , the poor immigrant must return home.
There is practically no immigration solution here. When Susan demanded thousands of dollars from Mark as a condition for marriage, Mark faced a monstrous dilemma. Should he cave in and give the money? This may constitute fraud and both may be guilty. Or should he just return home and face humility and ridicule by friends and relatives. The shocking revelation placed Mark in a very vulnerable situation. He left a good job in Manila, sold or gave away all of his belongings and said farewell to friends and relatives. But now he faces a sobering reality of going back empty handed.
What Susan may not know is that she may be guilty of extortion or fraud. By pretending that she loved Mark and filing the fiancée application under penalty of perjury, Susan may be committing a crime. This crime may be punishable by fine or imprisonment.
This is not an unusual case. There are many who are desperate to leave the Philippines. Out of desperation they rush to join their fiancée in America without full knowledge of their character or personality. Many relationships start online. They chat or express their love via telephone. The relationship may escalate to a short personal meeting. Often the American petitioner will fly to the Philippines to meet the loved one. The fiancée visa application is filed soon after. However at this point, the relationship may be half-baked. A relationship that is not fully developed can turn sour in hurry.
Before issuing a visa the consul will interview fiancée in the US Embassy in Manila. The questions will focus on the relationship. Is the relationship legitimate? What are the intentions of the couple? Do they really know one another? Are there factual conflicts between the application and the testimony of the fiancée? Are there any grounds for inadmissibility or reasons to deny the visa? Will there be financial support for the incoming non-immigrant?
Once the consul is satisfied that the relationship is genuine, he will issue the visa. Obviously the consul never suspected that Susan intended to defraud Mark. Sadly, Mark is faced with multiple misfortunes. Susan broke his heart, he may need to go back and there is a possibility that he may be unable to return to the US.
The moral of this story is simple. Between the cradle and the grave there is no guarantee. Sometimes we need to be prepared for the unexpected. Sometimes we need to expect problems and prepare for find solutions. For Mark, the solution is not yet apparent. But for sure this is only one chapter in his life. Life would go on and who knows, he may meet a Sally who will offer true love.
Lazaro Law Group, Managing Attorney