Green Card = $?$?$?$?$?
December 29, 2005 9:17 AM   Subscribe

What is the current street value of US Citizenship? How much is a Green Card worth? Just wondering...

If an American friend marries a foreign friend for citizenship, and they agree that it is a business transaction, what is a fair amount of compensation?
posted by Gankmore to Human Relations (24 answers total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: illegal, yo!

Probably about ten years in federal prison. The Immigration people do check up on you.

Sorry if this isn't helpful.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 9:20 AM on December 29, 2005

These two individuals in question are roommates already.
posted by Gankmore at 9:30 AM on December 29, 2005

As Kirth says, this is against the law in a big way. Whether or not they are already roommates has nothing to do with it. The fact that you posted this under your user name and that your profile links to your web site makes it unwise to pursue the matter further.
posted by alms at 9:38 AM on December 29, 2005

INS (well, HomeSec now, but whatever) has standards for real marriages. Might want to read up a bit before plunging into this.

OBCanadaAdvertisement: Immigration to Canada is much easier than to the US.
posted by jellicle at 9:44 AM on December 29, 2005

As a non-American who is married (for love! you think I wanted to live in the USA?) to an American, I gotta say, those interviews are in-depth. We got investigated thoroughly because our work situations put us living in different cities for a year before and a few months after our wedding. So, apart from our joint bank accounts, we had very little official documentation (joint lease, utilities etc) backing us up. Luckily, we had spent a buttload of money on our wedding. I think it was the bills that convinced them. That and the 10 albums of photos we dragged in to the interview.

Short answer: it's risky and requires much much planning, and several years out of your lives to commit to this (checking up on you etc). I don't recommend.
posted by gaspode at 9:57 AM on December 29, 2005

Flowers By Irene are probably already reading this thread.
posted by fire&wings at 10:02 AM on December 29, 2005

I would pay no more than $1000 to sleep with Geena Davis, though she is kinda hot.

Are you thinking of Andie MacDowell? They do kind of look alike.

Conspiracy to commit immigration fraud for fun and profit? Best use of AskMe ever. I wonder if it would still be illegal if the theoretical couple in question fell in love and still decided to stay married even despite money having exchanged hands. I smell a blockbuster!
posted by Tommy Gnosis at 10:06 AM on December 29, 2005

OK, just for the sake of argument:

Let's say you make $50/hour. Well, let's say it anyway.

You'll have to spend about 10 hours gathering documentation, filing out forms, and doing other paperwork.

You and the lucky roommate have to go to the nearest DHS&NS office, during business hours. If you're not there when the doors open, count on it being an all-day expedition. Let's say you're not. Call that 8 hours.

If you are missing some piece of paper that the pipsqueak uniformed little tin god agent behind the counter thinks you need, you'll have to come back again. Let's say you are. Another 8 hours.

Oops, your fingerprints have expired. Don't ask me how; it's a government thing. You have to go back. 8 hours.

Now you wait. While waiting, you must maintain the appearance of being married to roomie, in case the Feds do a surprise inspection. If this involves sex, it doesn't matter to the Immigration; they don't have that.

You'll have to go back to the office at least once, for an interview in an office. Probably no big deal, but 8 hours more.

Well, it's been a long time, and the temporary Green Card has expired. You have to renew the application. More paper, and another trip to the office. Say 10 hours.

So far, you have "earned" between $500 and $600, and you haven't even got the G.C. yet.

That's if you aren't in jail, of course.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:07 AM on December 29, 2005

Tommy Gnosis, that was Green Card, starring Gerard Depardieu and, in a bizarre twist, Andie McDowell.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:11 AM on December 29, 2005

posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:12 AM on December 29, 2005

One answer to this question, in real dollars, is something between US$ 5000,00 and U$ 20000,00 (or more, depending on many other factors, such as the number of months/years required to make this work nowaday). This is a bit outdated and just hearsay, I have no experience or interest in these matters.
posted by nkyad at 10:23 AM on December 29, 2005

Our interview was a snap--because it's dead obvious that we're in love. It was the rest of the process that was made difficult because of people like your friends. Months apart and much misery. Tell them thanks for me.

What your friend needs to do is decide how much jail time is going to be worth if the plan fails. I'd have to be paid a hell of a lot more to sit in jail than I would to go through with a fake marriage.

Your friend also might want to look up the fine structure for this, and get that put away ahead of time.
posted by frykitty at 10:24 AM on December 29, 2005

Marrying someone won't get you citizenship, regardless. The best you can get is residency.

And as for this:

OBCanadaAdvertisement: Immigration to Canada is much easier than to the US

I think the marriage route would be easier in the US. In Canada, well you wouldn't have to be married, common law is good enough, and you don't have to find someone of the opposite sex, that's true. But the potential partner has to agree to support you financially for 10 years, regardless of the outcome of the relationship. (So I don't think there's any requirement that you stay together, but if you don't, your partner still has to support you).
posted by duck at 10:33 AM on December 29, 2005

OBCanadaAdvertisement: Immigration to Canada is much easier than to the US.

But not by much, and Canada also has very strict requirements as to what constitutes a real marriage.

In Canada, well you wouldn't have to be married, common law is good enough, and you don't have to find someone of the opposite sex, that's true.

But you do have to legally affirm that yours is a relationship based on natural love and affection, providence photographic evidence or witness testimony of the duration and extent of your relationship, and have been co-habitating for at least one year if not legally married.

To calculate how much it would be worth to a person to be an American citizen, you have to know where they are coming from. Say at minimum wage, an American will make 10 times more than a Chinese person. Call that a difference of about $800,000-$1,000,000 over the course of a 40 year career. Then you have to deduct from that cost of living, taxes, and so on. Then you have the value of a green card. Adjust for Net Present Value and then take an appropriate commission, say 10%. I'd bet the $5k-$20k estimate above is pretty accurate, starting from someone at minimum wage to somebody more skilled.
posted by loquax at 10:39 AM on December 29, 2005

But the potential partner has to agree to support you financially for 10 years, regardless of the outcome of the relationship.

This is something else to consider in the US--though the requirement is 2 years here.
posted by frykitty at 10:40 AM on December 29, 2005

I've heard of amounts around and beyond the upper end of nkyad's figures for people who are essentially strangers marrying strictly as a business transaction (and, on preview, I'm talking about educated people with an expectation to make a good income by American standards, per loquax). Of course that's just hearsay. I've heard of amounts less than the lower end for people who are doing it at least partly out of friendship or altruism. Again, that's just hearsay. I have no first-hand knowledge about anyone committing or contemplating committing immigration fraud of any kind.
posted by TimeFactor at 10:46 AM on December 29, 2005

A friend of mine was asked if she'd be into this by a fella from Ireland. He was willing to pay $10k, I believe, in installments. I was one of the many friends who convinced her not to do it. She was feeling particularly desperate financially (huge student loans) and was considering it. This was 2 years ago in NYC.
posted by jdl at 11:01 AM on December 29, 2005

And as usual, my arithmetic stinks. My $500-600 should be $2500-3000.

Or ten years.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:07 AM on December 29, 2005

This is quite a common phenomenon within the Thai community in the US. From what I've heard the rate for a Thai person wishing to marrying an American citizen is about $2000 to $5000.

The higher end of the scale is for the services of a Thai-American person because a marriage between two people of the same ethnic background is easier to pass off to the immigration authorities. Further down the ladder are Lao-Americans because of cultural and linguistic commonalities with Thais. The lower rates will secure the services of an Central American. This information comes from Thais living in the Los Angeles area, rates may be different in other cities.

Marrying someone won't get you citizenship, regardless. The best you can get is residency.

After attaining residency status you can apply for citizenship.
posted by soiled cowboy at 11:26 AM on December 29, 2005

And just one more thing, IANAL but people crying "crime", "jail" and "fraud" are probably clueless. The page linked by jellicle above says only that if the INS determines/thinks your marriage is phony, you may be permanently barred from becoming a US citizen (if later you become eligible for the right reasons). It probably may get the non-national side of the arrangement deported, though.

And about the moral issue, who said love is a requirement for marriage? That is just the modern Western version of the problem. Mutual interest (either financial or something else) has been the real reason for most marriages for a much longer time and still is in many parts of the world today.
posted by nkyad at 11:28 AM on December 29, 2005

A friend of the family did this in canada. She was offered $10,000 by a man from India, half upfront, half after the wedding. She got the $5000, he came to Canada, he got arrested by Immigration Canada, sent home to India, and she got a criminal record and a big fine. And she didn't get the other $5000.

Caveat emptor.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:29 AM on December 29, 2005

Marrying someone won't get you citizenship, regardless. The best you can get is residency.

But residency gets you citizenship. Hold a green card for three years while married to a US citizen, and you can apply for citizenship (which should be basically a slow rubber-stamp unless you've committed a crime as a CPR/LPR). If you get divorced, the wait is 5 years.

The support requirement in the US is ten years or forty quarters of work, but it's not direct support. All it says is that if your (ex-)spouse goes onto some kinds of welfare / assistance, the government can come after you for the dough. But, it also expires if the spouse takes US citizeship, which is where it ends for most couples AFAIK.

It seems a pretty dumb thing to do overall. As for amount of compensation, that's easy: he gets half of her stuff and she gets half of his. They are going to be for real and no-shit legally married, and BCIS will want to see firm evidence that their finances have been mingled. Once the finances are intermixed, separating them again can be as messy for them as it is for any other divorcing couple.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:33 AM on December 29, 2005

nkyad, it is the American roommate who is going to get the jail time. The foreigner would get expelled, but the American would probably be prosecuted.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:37 AM on December 29, 2005

The Immigration Marriage Fraud Amendment of 1986, “provides severe penalties for entering into marriage to receive an immigration benefit such as a visa or permanent residency. Such penalties include fines of up to $250,000.00 and imprisonment of up to five years in a federal prison.

So any calculation must include at least:
plus (Annual Earning Potential x 5 Years)
plus Compensation for Lost Opportunities*
plus Compensation for Grief**
plus Bad Karma Surcharge***

*The opportunities lost during and after incarceration (i.e. opportunities lost due to a criminal record).
**Grief including (but not limited to) the shit your friend will put up with in federal prison plus whatever grief immigration and/or the federal government have in store for him/her.
***Bad karma earned by making life that much harder for Americans who really are in love with non-Americans.

As for street value, one article mentioned an organization that was arranging fake marriages for $60,000 per person (to illegal immigrants from China and Vietnam). These organized criminals are now serving sentences in federal prison, mind you.

Perhaps your friend should start by reading up on life in federal prison. Hopefully, he/she will realize that no amount of compensation is worth it.
posted by stringbean at 11:53 AM on December 29, 2005

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