The American victims of marriage-related immigration fraud have begun to tell their stories; how they went into a marriage with an alien, in good faith, and then found that the alien in question was not interested in the marriage per se but really was only seeking the status of a permanent resident alien (or green card holder) that goes with such a marriage.
In many cases, aliens make use of a provision in the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) that permits aliens to "self-petition" for green card status, when they claim that their U.S. citizen spouse has abused them. That petition is filed with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), more specifically with its Vermont Regional Center where USCIS staffers sitting at their desks decide whether or not the claim is a valid one. Typically these cases are decided without any in-person interviews.
Routinely the alleged citizen abusers are not consulted about the matter, which USCIS regards as confidential; have no say in the ultimate decision; and are often severally hurt by the outcome, both emotionally and financially. Then the alien secures a green card as an "immediate relative" of the citizen to whom they are, routinely, no longer married.
USCIS/Vermont does not approach these situations like a divorce court would; it operates in secrecy and rarely, if ever, gives the alleged abuser, usually a citizen but sometimes a green card holder, the right to be heard. The VAWA law provides a whole series of advantages to the aliens in these proceedings, among which is a very unusual provision that fraud on the part of the alien involved does not diminish the alien's ability to obtain the green card.
Victims of Immigration Fraud (VOIF), an advocacy organization, has collected 22 case studies of immigration fraud, which follow. There are no names provided, as the American victims usually do not want to see their names in print as "abusers". And, given the privacy that VOIF has granted the citizens, it is only fair that the aliens' names not be used either.
VOIF has, by definition, heard only one side of the story, and that is what is presented below; it is perfectly possible in some cases that there may have been a bit of abuse on the part of one or more of the citizens as well. Neither VOIF nor CIS claims that everything said by all the victims is 100 percent accurate.
But what we do have is a fascinating (and depressing) series of accounts of 22 U.S. citizens being hornswoggled by aliens pretending to love them. The stories are of 17 male and six female citizens being deceived by people from 18 different nations. A minority of the cases may also involve national security matters, like the Russian woman who tried marriage fraud on both a civilian and later a military officer (see cases 15 and 16). There were four cases involving two Russian women (the only multiples on the list), and two each for Brazil and China.
For more on this subject, including an account of some of the victims visiting the White House, see this July 11, 2018, reporting from WRC_TV, channel four, the NBC affiliate in Washington, D.C.
The case summaries from VOIF follow.
Domestic Violence-Related Immigration Fraud Cases Collected by Victims of Immigration Fraud
Case No. 1: Female American Victim from New Mexico; Male Alien Spouse from China. An American woman spouse and member of the Navajo Indian Tribe alleges she was the victim of marriage fraud by her Chinese husband. The American victim alleges her husband has very secretive behavior, is training to be a commercial airline pilot, and believes his father may be in the Chinese military.
The Chinese husband arrived in the United States on a student visa in April 2017 for the purpose of aviation flight training. The couple met online and married shortly afterward on November 23, 2018. Just one day after the marriage, he mysteriously bolted and traveled to California to work as an aviation training instructor at a California company owned by a Chinese company. The Chinese husband has no interest in the marriage and has only returned to New Mexico on rare and brief occasions. "He would spend almost all of his time on the phone speaking in Mandarin to someone or interacting with foreigners online". The American spouse alleges he made daily trips to Fed-Ex to receive packages from China requiring his signature or send packages paid for with a Chinese credit card. In March 2020, her husband filed a restraining order claiming she physically abused him, in a possible attempt to petition to become an abused spouse under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).
In preparation for divorce proceedings, a private investigator found her Chinese husband had multiple addresses in New Mexico, Florida, Arizona, and Utah; an Oklahoma driver's license; and two Social Security numbers.
The American spouse victim is five months pregnant conceived by her Chinese husband, and she fears that law enforcement authorities will not take her claims seriously. The case is ongoing.
Case No. 2: Male American victim from Washington State; Female Alien Spouse from Bolivia. The alleged American victim claims he was falsely accused of domestic violence by his spouse, and by the director of legal services of a Washington State women's shelter, in an attempt by his wife to secure immigration status under the Violence Against Women Act. The latter filed for protection orders for the alien. The American alleges his spouse attempted to strengthen her case by "[self]-inflicting bruises" prior to filing legal actions. The American claims to have "lost [his] house, car, and a significant portion of his two children's development." The alleged victim served his country for 20 years, including in Iraq, where he felt his return was not certain. Now he feels he has been targeted by VAWA.
Case No. 3: Female American Victim from Virginia; Male Alien Spouse from Lebanon. This case involves marriage fraud, visa fraud, VAWA / false allegations, credit card fraud, and perjury. A female D.C.-area physician alleges she is being intimidated by her Lebanese husband who arrived in the United States on an F-1 visa. She claims that shortly after their marriage, he admitted to marrying for a green card and also admitted in family court to having fraudulently filed for VAWA to obtain it. According to the woman, her husband has threatened to harm her family if she stops filing his immigration paperwork.
The alleged victim says she has spent $75,000 defending herself against 15 restraining orders, sexual assault charges, or other criminal charges, which she asserts are false. The woman insists her husband is guilty of visa fraud, VAWA application fraud, credit card fraud, document fraud, and perjury in various D.C. courtrooms.
Case No. 4: Male American Victim from Maryland; Female Alien Partner from Russia. This case involved U Visa fraud/ false allegations. The victim believes that a federally funded Maryland women's shelter was involved.
A Russian-born U.S. citizen with a PhD met a Russian woman on a dating site. She subsequently entered the United States on a student visa so they could live together in Maryland. The American man claims to have provided her with contraceptives, but she purportedly became pregnant anyway. The couple did not marry, but in an effort to secure her immigration status, she filed for a U Visa (for victims of crime) on the basis that she was being physically abused.
Specifically, the woman alleged that the American man had tried to kill her, but courts denied her protection orders. The Russian woman allegedly proceeded to leave this relationship and to defraud a military officer (see case No. 5).
Case No. 5: Male American Victim from Maryland; Female Alien Spouse from Russia. This case involved military benefits fraud and VAWA false allegations.
After leaving her first American partner (case No. 4) and allegedly filing dubious VAWA claims, the Russian woman married a military officer. He claims she married in an effort to receive access to military bases and benefits. The officer said that shortly after getting married, she pressured him to file immigration paperwork. He asserts that, one week later, she moved out, only to reappear months later.
Upon her return, the man claims that she offered him $1,000 a month if he agreed to assist her in obtaining a green card and a military ID. After security personnel denied her a military ID, the American alleged that she attempted to file a false VAWA claim. Later, the marriage was annulled; her current immigration status is unknown.
Case No. 6: Male American Victim in California; Female Alien Partner from Pakistan. This case involved VAWA fraud and tax evasion.
A Los Angeles-area physician petitioned for a Pakistani woman on a fiancée visa. The relationship failed to develop into a marriage and her visa expired, but she refused to return to Pakistan. Instead, she contacted a Los Angeles-area women's shelter, where she received assistance in filing a restraining order to allegedly bolster her VAWA claim as a battered spouse.
The shelter contacted a lawyer to present a case claiming the woman was raped over 45 times and denied basic food. However, the petition was dismissed by a judge. Despite the verdict, the shelter continued to assist her VAWA petition as a battered spouse. The American claims the shelter "concocts stories for [foreigners] to receive immigration benefits and grants."
Case No. 7: Male American Victim from Oklahoma; Female Alien Spouse from Macedonia. This case involved VAWA/ false allegations and visa fraud.
A Macedonian woman came to the United States to study law. In 2013, she met an American male on a blind date. Subsequently, in 2014, they got married and, later, had a child together.
The American claims that throughout the marriage, she was fixated on obtaining legal permanent residence status (LPR) while showing disinterest in their actual relationship. In turn, he filed for divorce and refused to endorse her LPR. Later, he learned his wife had made abuse claims and filed a VAWA self- petition I-360. The American alleges that a taxpayer-funded women's shelter assisted his ex-wife with a one-sided domestic assessment that lacked a proper investigation. She purportedly received LPR status (i.e., a green card).
Case No. 8: Male American Victim from Washington State; Female Alien Spouse from Iran. This case involved perjury in courts and a U.S. embassy, marriage fraud, and VAWA/ false allegations. The victim alleges a government-funded women's shelter and a legal aid organization were involved.
A former military pilot claims to have spent $200,000 defending himself against what he regards as fabricated allegations of violence by his Iranian spouse. Prior to being accused, he had a clean record. The American says that government-funded organizations providing domestic violence support and legal aid enabled his spouse's marriage fraud attempt by assisting her with forgery and perjury.
The American says his wife exhibited violent, argumentative, and demanding behavior, and even purports to have been stabbed. He allegedly documented proof of her violence in audio recordings, photos, and video. The man also claims his wife lacked interest in their marriage. However, the courts ultimately provided his wife with a protection order and classified him as a perpetrator. He maintains that the ordeal was "an attempt for her to file for a green card through VAWA." The American man also alleges that his wife's case was supported by legal service organizations and that she received taxpayer benefits during the process.
Case No. 9: Male American Victim from California; Female Alien Spouse from China. This case involved bigamy, VAWA fraud/ false allegations, tax fraud, document forgery, etc.
A male tennis instructor met a Chinese woman on a dating site and petitioned for a fiancée visa. She arrived in California and the couple were married on June 29, 2014. The American man claims that his Chinese wife immediately abandoned their marriage and moved in with her sister. She later allegedly admitted to already being in a marriage on videotape.
The husband began annulment proceedings on July 14, 2014. Concurrently, his spouse filed a VAWA petition with USCIS as a battered spouse. Despite being rejected on the first attempt, the Chinese woman eventually secured approved status on her second attempt after the Vermont USCIS regional center allegedly provided her re-submission tips.
After receiving her green card, she was found guilty of bigamy and marriage and immigration fraud. However, her lawyers attempted to use her VAWA petition as a defense, claiming the American was a rapist. Later, in 2016, her VAWA claims were purportedly shown to be false by a polygraph. Her current immigration status is unknown.
Case No. 10: Male American Victim from Texas; Female Alien Spouse from the United Arab Emirates. This case involved marriage fraud, VAWA fraud/false allegations, and providing false information to police.
A Houston-area man married a woman in March 2012 from the United Arab Emirates. She originally arrived in the United States on a J-1 exchange visa and worked for ExxonMobil.
Before her visa expired in September 2012, she married her husband, allowing her to secure legal immigration status and to continue working. After their child was born, the woman allegedly called the police on three separate occasions for domestic violence; however, there were never any arrests. The following year, the American filed for divorce, and the woman concurrently petitioned as a battered spouse under VAWA. VAWA privacy laws prevent the public from knowing whether the petition was approved.
Case No. 11: Male American Victim from Iowa; Female Alien Spouse from the Philippines. This case involved marriage fraud and VAWA/ false allegations.
An Iowa man married a Filipino woman in 2018. One year later, in February 2019, she received approval for her green card. Shortly afterward, the American man claims she became mentally abusive and constantly insulted his character.
After the couple had an argument, the wife called the police claiming she was physically pushed; the American man asserts there were no markings. He claims she feigned the role of a victim, which led to him being taken to jail. The case was later dropped to a minor charge of disturbing the peace. The American says his wife admitted to making false allegations and using VAWA to escape the two-year marriage requirement. (Routinely, a marriage has to be in place for two years before a green card can be granted to the alien spouse; by alleging abuse, the two-year standard is avoided.)
Case No. 12: Female American Victim from New Mexico; Male Alien Spouse from Mexico. This case involved U Visa fraud, false allegations, marriage fraud, threats, and violence.
A New Mexico woman married an undocumented Hispanic male. The woman claims to have later discovered that he had been convicted of drunk driving four times and arrested for domestic violence.
She alleges that after marrying, her spouse became emotionally and physically abusive, drank heavily, and cheated with prostitutes. She filed for a divorce and refused to sign his immigration paperwork. The woman says that her husband went to a New Mexico women's shelter, where he was purportedly told to file a restraining order and to seek a U Visa.
The American woman claims that he continued to show up at her house, leading her to seek counseling from the same shelter he contacted. She claims to have not been helped and that the shelter unfairly favors immigrants while ignoring Americans. She alleges that the shelter operates as a de-facto immigration service that helps individuals file spurious VAWA petitions.
Case No. 13: Female American Victim from Florida; Male Alien Spouse from Colombia. This case involved marriage fraud, bigamy, and visa fraud.
An American woman, serving as an Army nurse, met a Colombian national who arrived to the United States on a tourist visa and she subsequently married him. She says he was very charming and personable at first.
Later, however, she claims he became disinterested in their relationship and frequently complained and belittled her for her job as an RN in the army. She says he constantly tried to provoke her into confrontations so he could file a VAWA petition. She claims he was already married to a Colombian woman and sought to use his U.S. marriage to secure residency, with intentions of divorcing to reunite with his Colombian wife.
Ultimately, the Colombian national was unsuccessful in his alleged marriage fraud scheme. However, the woman says her military career was nearly destroyed after he made false allegations about her to the base commander. She believes that "VAWA has become a backdoor loophole for terrorists."
Case No. 14: Male American Victim from Texas; Female Alien Spouse from India. This case involved immigration fraud, marriage fraud, and false statements.
A Texas man claims he was deceived by an Indian foreign national into marriage and having a child so she could obtain U.S. residency in 2015. After the woman received her conditional permanent residence, the husband says she left their home and kidnapped their three-month old child. Incidentally, other members of the woman's family have been accused of marriage fraud, amounting to a potential chain migration scheme as well.
In 2016, the Indian spouse's sister married the Texas man's cousin. Just one day into that marriage, the man claims that his wife abandoned him and contacted friends, family, and church leadership to initiate a smear campaign that would help her create a VAWA petition. He says she later admitted to marriage fraud after they divorced. However, since USCIS does not release the verdict of VAWA-self petitions, the status of the Indian woman is not known.
Case No. 15: Male American Victim from Texas; Female Alien Spouse from Russia. This case involved marriage and green card fraud.
The Russian woman arrived into the United States with her daughter and married the U.S. citizen. Soon after she received her conditional green card, the man says they began experiencing marriage quarrels and sought marriage counseling.
One year later, she purportedly expressed the intent to return to Russia, in response to which the American husband offered to purchase her airline tickets. The next day, the Russian spouse filed a Domestic Protection Order; in turn, the American says he was ordered to vacate the house at 10:00 p.m. that evening. In the order, she alleged stalking, pushing and hitting her, as well as threatening to kill her. However, the American asserts there was no evidence to support these allegations and that they were made to secure immigration status as a battered spouse.
After they divorced, she allegedly deceived another American victim, which is cross-referenced in case No. 16.
Case No. 16: Male American Victim from Arizona; Female Alien Spouse from Russia.
This is a part of a series involving Russian brides allegedly fabricating abuse claims against military husbands to get unfettered access to U.S. military bases and obtain military IDs and benefits. After her first marriage ended, the Russian woman in case No. 15 purportedly also deceived a member of the U.S. Air Force into marriage. The man says that she immediately made a barrage of false abuse allegations in an attempt to obtain permanent military spousal benefits. He even claims she coached her daughter to also make fabricated abuse claims.
The man says that military national security vulnerability is augmented by the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). In his eyes, a simple unproven allegation of abuse (under VAWA) puts them on a fast track for a green card, while avoiding background checks and face-to face interviews required in other visas. Immigrant con artists, criminals, and potential terrorists can easily exploit this loophole, he says. VAWA confidentiality provisions allow recipients to conceal their personal identity or criminal past.
Case No. 17: Male American Victim from Florida; Female Alien Spouse from Jamaica. This case involved false allegations and misuse of the law by a women's shelter.
A Florida man married a Jamaican woman in 2013, enabling her to receive a temporary green card. The American husband claims that after he signed her immigration paperwork, she moved into another room in the house. The American claims that "immigration [authorities] denied [his spouse's] application". In turn, he says that she moved out of the house to a women's shelter that allegedly helped her file for a green card. The husband insists that there was no domestic abuse when she moved out and that he neither hit nor cursed her.
The American says he was subsequently served with a protection order and now wants to sue his spouse for having made what he believes to be a "fraudulent statement to get a green card". The case is pending.
Case No. 18: Female American Victim from Georgia; Male Alien Spouse from the Ivory Coast.
An American woman alleges she was duped into a marriage in September 2019 with an Ivory Coast national by a matchmaker. The couple has never lived together. The American woman claims that the matchmaker arranges marriages "with a network of Africans to get them green cards" and is connected to an immigration attorney who allegedly arranges sham marriages to circumvent immigration laws. Purportedly, the attorney associated with the matchmaker had been previously suspended from practice by the Executive Office for Immigration Review, a part of the U.S. Department of Justice, and defended a Somali terrorist in court proceedings. The Ivory Coast national arrived on a student visa under allegedly false pretenses and purportedly caused an auto accident and has a criminal record and two passports with different birth dates. The American woman says she has refused to sign immigration paperwork to sponsor him. In turn, she claims that the immigration lawyer assisted her husband with a "staged abuse" claim so he could expedite his immigration status under VAWA. She feels she was targeted due to her minor arrest record, which could bolster her husband's case as a battered male spouse under VAWA.
Case No. 19: Female American Victim from Washington State; Male Alien Spouse from Nigeria.
A Seattle-area woman developed an online relationship with a Nigerian man and got married in Nigeria. Ultimately, the husband and their son came to the United States on a marriage visa in November 2015.
According to the American, her nightmare began within 10 days of her husband's arrival. She says he was verbally abusive and constantly tried to provoke arguments. One night, she claims to have caught him talking on the phone and admitting that "he had a wife and life in Nigeria." She alleges that her husband sexually assaulted her three times but claims she was unfairly arrested for domestic violence against him. It is unknown whether he filed under VAWA as an abused husband.
The domestic violence case was dismissed after the husband failed to appear in court. Since then, she has filed for marriage annulment and claims he submitted fraudulent immigration paperwork. She has notified the State Department, USCIS, the U.S. White House, Homeland Security, the FBI and other government agencies, but has not received any responses.
Case No. 20: Male American Victim from Florida; Female Alien Spouse from Brazil.
A Florida resident claims to have evidence that a government-funded women's shelter and legal aid organization coerced his ex-wife to apply under VAWA with fabricated information submitted to USCIS. Since his ex-wife doesn't speak English, he claims a church pastor translated her affidavit.
After his Brazilian wife arrived in the United States on a tourist visa in July 2016, the American filed an I-130 form (Petition for Alien Relative) with USCIS. In November 2017, the American husband filed for divorce and withdrew his affidavit of support and I-130 petition. During their marriage, on two occasions, she called the local sheriff's office alleging domestic violence. However, no physical or psychological injury was found.
The man alleges that the taxpayer-funded women's shelter wrote a letter on behalf of his now ex-wife to USCIS claiming he was abusive. However, the husband asserts that during their divorce proceedings, "no physical or psychological abuse was ever claimed".
The American husband claims his ex-wife does not understand the seriousness of lying to USCIS. This case is ongoing.
Case No. 21: Male American Victim from Michigan; Female Alien Spouse from Brazil.
A former police/military serviceman claims he was victimized through immigration fraud by his Brazilian wife claiming abuse under Violence Against Women Act.
The couple met online while he was deployed in Iraq and she was working as an au pair in Michigan. During his leave from Iraq, he traveled to Michigan, and they developed a relationship. They were married in Michigan in September 2013. After marriage, the couple found difficulty communicating and getting along. The American man claims his Brazilian wife acted irrationally and needed psychiatric care for a narcissistic/pessimistic personality disorder.
In April 2015, the husband proposed the option of divorce to his spouse. He claims she immediately searched the internet for ways to remain in the United States without being married by claiming abuse under VAWA. He says she subsequently called the police with a false abuse allegation, which led to his arrest. The case was dismissed after she refused to testify under oath. Despite the alleged fraud, her VAWA abuse petition was approved.
Case No. 22: Male American Victim from California; Female Alien Spouse from Ukraine.
An alleged former Ukrainian prostitute purportedly filed a fraudulent abuse petition under VAWA to hide her inadmissibility. She then successfully sued her American husband, a former Iraqi military vet, for a lifetime of support after an 89-day marriage.
In what the victim regards as a precedent-setting case, the court ruled that fraud is not a defense from I-864 support obligations. Although the contract is between the American citizen and government, filing a VAWA abuse petition allowed her to sue her American spouse for support. Usually under basic contract law, fraud can nullify a contract.
The man claims to have hired a private investigator who found that she worked as a prostitute prior to their courtship/marriage. Despite abandoning the marriage shortly after arriving in the United States, and initially denying any abuse took place, she successfully sued him for a lifetime of support and hundreds of thousands in legal fees. He says he is facing the loss of his business and home.