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Nov 11, 2005
Secret Marriages Could Result in Lifetime Ban or Separation
- Atty. Michael J. Gurfinkel, Esq. Email this article

Dear Atty. Gurfinkel:


I was petitioned by my parent as “single”.  I already passed my interview at the Embassy, and my immigrant visa has been delivered to me. 


I will be leaving for the States in about two weeks.  However, my boyfriend is feeling insecure, thinking that once I leave for America, I will forget about him.  So, he wants us to have a “secret” marriage before I leave for the U.S., in order to prove my love and devotion to him.  I am being told that no one would ever find out about the marriage, and the marriage contract would not be recorded.


Since I already passed the interview, and I already have my visa in hand, would it be OK for me to marry my boyfriend before I leave for the U.S.?


                                                                         Very truly yours,


Dear F.T.:


Certain petitions require the beneficiary to remain single up until the time they actually enter the U.S. (or touch U.S. soil).  Those petitions include:


1. Minor (under 21 years of age) child of U.S. citizen (immediate relative)

2. Single adult (over 21 years of age) child of U.S. citizen (category F-1).

3. Single child of greencard holder (category F-2A or F-2B)

4. Minor (under 21 years of age) child who is a “derivative” beneficiary under their parent’s family or employment-based petition.


If any of these beneficiaries marry before entering the U.S. (or adjusting status), they lose eligibility for that visa, and would not be able to legally immigrate to the U.S. based on that visa classification.


Even if you already have your immigrant visa in hand, you must still land in America as “single”.  In fact, when a person is immigrating as “single”, they are specifically advised, and are required to sign a document, that they are aware that they would lose their eligibility to immigrate to the U.S. if they marry before entering the U.S.


Many people are under the misconception that once their visa is issued, they could then marry before leaving for America.  This is not the case.


 Any marriage, secret or otherwise, has a way of coming back to haunt a “single” immigrant.  If the Embassy or USCIS should discover the marriage contract, then the person could face a possible lifetime ban from ever entering the U.S. because of fraud.  If he was somehow able to enter the U.S., he could later be removed (deported).  Moreover, he can never bring his spouse or children to the U.S. legally.  This is because if a person entered the U.S. through fraud (by misrepresenting his marital status), he is not legally entitled to his own status, and so cannot petition any family members, based on his illegally-obtained status.  

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