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• National Association of Korean Americans

• National Coalition for Haitian Rights



Illegal Immigrants: "We Want To Wed…"
From Ruskaya Reklama (Russian Advertising)
16-22nd August 2002

By: Nosiv Sobolevski

I am a citizen of the United States. My girlfriend came here on a tourist Visa B-2 a year ago. After much deliberation we decided to wed here. My friends are discouraging us from doing this. They showed me an article published in a Russian paper which said that after we get married, my girlfriend would have to return to her homeland, in which she would need to process the K-3 visa form to return to America.

If we don’t wed here because of the strict background checks of place of marriage, then I, as a citizen of the Unites States, can go to my girlfriend’s homeland and marry her there. Then I will return to the United States and submit documents to be reunited with her.

Is this correct? Please help.

And please answer a second question. Here in Brooklyn we hear a lot of talk about a new law that will forbid illegals to wed U.S. citizens. How correct are these rumors?

* * * * * * *

First of all I should say that any foreigner has the right to marry a citizen, whether the foreigner be a guest whose allotted time to stay has expired or not, named in form I-94 distributed upon entry to the U.S. In addition, citizens are allowed to wed those foreigners who arrived in the U.S. legally or illegally, for example, through an illegal border crossing in Mexico or Canada.

It is important to point out that the length of an illegal immigrant’s stay in the United States. in no way impedes his or her right to wed a U.S. citizen. The most important requirement to have for the foreigner is current (not expired) proof of identity. This could be a passport or a driver's license/ non-driver ID. Those who have been married before must bring notarized divorce papers that have been translated into English.

Let’s pay attention to those "guests" of the U.S. who at one time were single but, wanting to gain permission to enter the U.S., gave evidence of a marriage (obviously, a fake one). After finding themselves in the U.S., they try to married a U.S. citizen. They submit their documents to the proper authorities, completely forgetting about their "other marriage." The scam is easily revealed with unpleasant results for the foreigner bride or groom.

The process itself of getting married is a simple one, and consists of two steps. First, both future spouses fill out forms to obtain a marriage license. They then receive the go ahead to wed. This document is given out with an expiration date, which is 60 days in New York. In this way, the couple is given 60 days to think through everything, although they are free to wed the day after they receive the license. During the ceremony, both sides must have a witness and then receive a certificate of marriage.

The whole process costs the parties no more than 60 dollars. A foreigner may get married who is no younger than 18 years of age, who is not disabled, and who is not wed to another person—even if that person is located in another country. Oftentimes because of ignorance about American immigration laws, a foreigner falsely weds a U.S. citizen thinking that this act will automatically grant him a green card. Obviously, this is far from the truth. The simple fact of being married to a U.S. citizen does not entitle a foreigner to ‘permanent resident’ status.

Marriages solely for the purpose of obtaining a greencard were regulated in 1986 by the Immigration Marriage Fraud Amendment. It sought to eradicate false marriages between U.S. citizens and foreigners. Below are some important facts that are useful for those seeking to marry should know:

  1. After a U.S. citizen weds, his foreign wife/husband who is located in the U.S. either legally or illegally does not have to leave the country in order to get an interview in the U.S. consulate in his/her homeland connected to the business of the marriage.
  2. To speed up processing the documents at the INS, here are a few helpful hints: instead of mailing the Petition Form I-130 to the regional INS center, this form along with form I-485 and others can be sent to your local INS office.

A foreign husband/wife does not have to pay the $1000 fee for living illegally in the country at time of marriage or at the day of his or her interview with the INS. There is no reason for your girlfriend to leave for her homeland in order to wed you there, nor submit form K-1 if she has not wed you yet. She neither needs to submit the K-3 visa if she has already wed you in her homeland, or a third country.

I also need to add that the right to leave the U.S., no matter how one entered the country, is shared with other close members of a citizen’s family, like his parents and unwed, dependent children. These close relatives pass an interview to be reunited here, and furthermore don’t pay the $1000 fine for their illegal residency in the U.S.

Lastly, concerning your second question about rumors of a possible bill outlawing marriages between U.S. citizens and illegal immigrants in this country. In short, the answer is this: certain "matchmakers" trick people into thinking that such a law will go into effect soon, urging illegal immigrants to wed citizens for a ‘minor’ $12-15,000 fee.

In reality Congress has no plans to forbid foreigners, whether they be legal aliens or not, from wedding citizens. That said,

  1. A foreigner may wed a citizen here, in this country, without having to go to a third country awaiting an interview in relation to the marriage.
  2. A foreigner should not be rushed into a ‘marriage of convenience’ because this will lead him to lose quite a large sum of money, and will hinder his attempts at getting a green card.

In conclusion, here are the addresses and hours of operation of places in New York where one may get married:

Mahattan: 1 Center St., New York, NY 10007 rm# 262. (212) 669-2400
210 Joralemon St. rm#205, Brooklyn, NY 11201 (718) 802-4107
:120-55 Queens Blvd. rm#NX 001, Queens, NY (718)590-5307
: 851 Grand Concourse, Bronx, NY 10451 (718) 590-5307
Staten Island
: 10 Richmond Terr. Staten Island, NY 10301 (718) 816-2290
Hours of operation: Mon-Fri, 8:30AM-4:30PM. In Staten Island: Mon-Fri, 9AM-4PM


Translated from Russian by Nina Kryuk

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