Your marriage track record may come back to bite you, immigration attorneys in New Jersey say, especially if you are using your marriage to support your claim for permanent residency. Elias Eid, a software engineer, has been living in New Jersey for the past several years, originally in the state on a visa. Eid is now facing deportation for fraudulently marrying a U.S. woman in an attempt to get his green card 15 years ago, even though he is now legitimately married with a child.
In 1999, Eid emigrated from Lebanon, moving into a home with his boss, Carolyn Pickett. They married later that year, and Eid applied for permanent residence, with Pickett as his sponsor. This petition was later withdrawn, and Eid and Pickett had their marriage annulled, admitting that they had only gotten married so that Eid could obtain his green card. In 2003, Eid married again, this time to U.S. citizen Gwen Packard-Eid. The couple has since welcomed a son. His marriage was considered valid and legitimate by immigration authorities, but Eid was required to file a new petition for permanent residency based on his earlier fraudulent marriage.
When Eid requested permanent resident status, using his marriage to Packard-Eid as proof of his claim, immigration authorities denied his petition. In Eid v. Thompson, the U.S. Court of Appeals upheld this decision, citing the country’s immigration laws. Under 8 U.S.C. 1154(c), immigrants who bid for residency based on a sham marriage to a U.S. citizen is banned from filing a future petition for residency. In Eid’s case, his first marriage and petition disqualifies him from using his current marriage to become a resident. This law also allows immigration officials to prosecute Eid for using fraud as a method to evade immigration laws and obtain a green card, as his scheduled deportation demonstrates.
In Eid’s appeal, he claimed that the law should be taken into account only for specific cases of intent to disregard the immigration marriage laws. In his case, he only wanted to remain in the United States; he had no intent to break the law. But the court ruled that the ambiguous language of the law does not make specific intent necessary in order to prosecute. According to the judges, any attempt to “enter into a marriage solely to obtain immigration benefits is sufficient” to incur penalization under the federal immigration law.
The appellate judges also discounted the claim of a “timely retraction” for Eid’s first withdrawn petition from his 1999 marriage. At the time he retracted the petition, immigration officials had already approved his request for permanent residency, and were in the process of questioning the couple and investigating the legitimacy of their marriage. Eid’s appeal was denied on all counts, and the court ordered him to return to Lebanon.
The New Jersey immigration attorneys at law firm Helmer, Conley, and Kasselman, PA, represent immigrants in this country on a visa or who are using their marriage to validate a petition for permanent residency. If you are trying to stay in the United States for any reason, contact an HCK immigration attorney for a free, no-strings consultation today.