Marriage Fraud: In Search of a Green Card

Parsing Immigration Policy, Episode 132

By Mark Krikorian and David North on November 30, 2023

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Listen to "Marriage Fraud: In Search of a Green Card" on Spreaker.


This week’s episode of Parsing Immigration Policy delves into the issue of marriage fraud, an arrangement where individuals enter into marriages solely for the purpose of securing a green card. David North, a fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies, joins host and executive director of the Center, Mark Krikorian, to discuss the prevalence and need to curb fraudulent marriage-based green cards.

Marriage-based green cards, whether fraudulent or legitimate, make up a large portion of the legal immigration system in the U.S. One in six new legal immigrants in 2022 gained their status by marrying either a U.S. citizen or a green card holder. This visa category does not have a numerical cap, making it an attractive way to become a legal permanent resident with work authority and a path to citizenship.

North explores different facets of marriage fraud, highlighting how the U.S. immigration system inadvertently provides opportunities for deception. The legal landscape favors the alien and presents challenges in policing individual cases, although USCIS has had recent successes in dismantling criminal rings that facilitate illegal green card marriages.

The discussion covers the often-overlooked perspective of victims of marriage fraud, where the citizen partner, often misled into believing in a genuine relationship, faces unexpected consequences post-divorce, including extended alimony payments. North also highlights how a provision in the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which allows aliens to self-petition to obtain their green cards if they are married to an abusive spouse, encourages aliens to falsely accuse the American citizen spouse of abuse. North and Krikorian offer insights into preventive measures, drawing attention to Canada’s educational approach, which involves a mandatory marriage fraud video session. They emphasize the need for a proactive stance by authorities to curb marriage fraud, urging a shift from the role of a “stupid Cupid” to a more vigilant approach.


Mark Krikorian is the Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies.


David North is a Fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies.


Topic Page: Marriage Fraud

Another Tale of a Phony Green-Card Marriage

Immigration Marriage Fraud in Reverse

Victims of Marriage-Related Immigration Fraud Tell Their Stories

In One Subclass of Immigrants, 100 Percent of the Visas Reflect a Failure


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Intro Montage

Voices in the opening montage:

  • Sen. Barack Obama at a 2005 press conference.
  • Sen. John McCain in a 2010 election ad.
  • President Lyndon Johnson, upon signing the 1965 Immigration Act.
  • Booker T. Washington, reading in 1908 from his 1895 Atlanta Exposition speech.
  • Laraine Newman as a "Conehead" on SNL in 1977.
  • Hillary Clinton in a 2003 radio interview.
  • Cesar Chavez in a 1974 interview.
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaking to reporters in 2019.
  • Prof. George Borjas in a 2016 C-SPAN appearance.
  • Sen. Jeff Sessions in 2008 comments on the Senate floor.
  • Charlton Heston in "Planet of the Apes".