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Wife Swap

2nd November 2015

When a client called to my office and asks me if the following scenario is possible according to immigration Law, I have to sit and think about it both ethically and practically.

Dean is an English young man on holiday in Miami, who gets a great job in moving furniture and gets paid ten times more than he would in Birmingham. As a British citizen, he doesn’t have a work visa and is on a three month tourist stay without a visa.

However, after a while working in Miami illegally is tough. He has to find excuses daily to why he can’t find his social security number or where is his driving license or even answering to his Nan, why can he fly out to visit her over Christmas back in England.

The truth is he has extended the validity of his tourist stay and cannot extend his stay. As an English passport holder, he could fly to America for 3 months without having an official B1-B2 tourist visa place in his passport. Unfortunately hindsight, he thinks he should have made that effort because at least he could have extended that visa. With no visa to extend he cannot stay any longer in the US and certainly not work.

But you know what, he thinks to himself, who is ever going to find out. I get paid in cash, I never met my landlord, I can live this way for month’s, even years. Slowly though his illegal status creeps up on him and his bank manager closes his account suddenly and his checks bounce and he can’t even renew his Florida Driving license.

Sitting in a bar one night with some friends, he spills the truth, to an unexpected response. They wriggle up laughing and don’t know how he didn’t come to them first.  “Dude… (American for “mate”)  we’ll sort this out tomorrow- are you crazy -no one lives like this’ how much cash can you sort out dude?”

Dean’s astounded- he thinks he is seriously similar to a fugitive who’s about to be courted off in an orange jumpsuit and his work mates are pounding their fists on the table laughing at how stupid he is?

The next day Dean was told to meet Jason outside the Miami City Hall on 3500 Pan American Drive, in a clean shirt and with $8000 in cash. That’s all he had, but he did it and lo and behold he met Cindy- She hardly spoke to him but just asked if he had brought the bag? He handed it to her and she said – come on let’s get this over with.

Next thing he knew “Congratulation Dean and Cindy!” Jason took photos and Cindy was squeezing his hand and kissing him like she knew the script before me.

He only saw Cindy twice again at the USCIS officials immigration office where they had sat for 2 hours in a local diner prepping their lives “together”- “you sleep on the right side of the bed”what’s your face cream called?” “Where did we meet again?” “ Why did you never meet my mum?”

Jason had hired an immigration attorney who specialized in US immigration Law in the State of Florida, paid him legal fees and told him a beautiful love story to apply for a fancy named long term residency visa in the United States. It’s called a L.P.R. which stands for Legal Permanent Resident or otherwise a Greencard.

And would you believe – 3 months later, Dean received a work permit and even got a travel permit which meant he could go to visit my Nan back home!

This was incredible- Dean had lied to an official immigration office, Dean had paid an American to “commit fraud,” Dean had endangered her from a $250,000 fine and even jail time and risked deportation himself – but Dean was free and after 3 years “physically living a lie as Cindy’s husband until he raised his hand to swear at inauguration of his American citizenship .

No faster than he got his passport did he file divorce against Cindy and left the United States. What a huge effort but well worth it because on the flight he met a lovely girl who lived around the corner from his Nan, and fell in love- real love and guess what after 2 months of them tying the knot he married Jane and moved in with her.

But life in Birmingham cannot bear the life in the Keys, not the weather, the music, the vibes, the spicy Caribbean food or the income. Jane was soon pregnant and so, familiar with the I-130 family relative green cards forms, Dean took Jane down that same path that Cindy had coached him many years back –  But this time for real. —-

Forward 10 Years-

To the phone call in my office from Jim.

“Hello, I am enquiring about applying for a green card to live in the United States with my wife Sarah.

My best friend Dean has lived in Miami for 10 years or so and has a huge real estate business and a beautiful family.”

“Sir, I don’t quite understand how I can help you here?

Are you or your wife American citizens?”

“Ah yes, Dean my best friend has agreed to divorce his wife Jane, and I have agreed to divorce my wife Sarah. After we get divorced we’ll swap partners and I will marry Jane and Dean will marry Sarah, is this a possible? Then Dean will sposnor Sarah as his new wife and jane can sponsor me as her new husband?

As an attorney can you represent us on behalf of the USCS Immigration and the American Embassy to live in the United States legally forever?”