Marriage for Papers Scam: A Guide For International Students

Marriage for Papers Scam: A Guide For International Students's photoBy Ernest Emeka
Thu Aug 03 2023
Marriage for Papers Scam: A Guide For International Students

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Olufemi was in trouble.  His student visa will expire in two months, and he has no plan to leave the United States.  Confused, he met Aron, a notario, through an acquaintance who promised to help him for $15000.  Aron operates a large-scale "sham marriage" business from a brick-and-mortar office in California.

He called home and explained his predicament.  No one wanted him home because of shame.  Olufemi has not done anything meaningful since he arrived in the United States.  They sold a choice property at Allen Avenue, Ikeja, to buy him a fraudulent marriage.

 A wife with Jamaican roots was found for Olufemi within a few days after making the payment.  Aron assisted with submitting fraudulent immigration and marriage documents; then, there was a stage of fake marriage at a chapel and strangers.  Aron took photos of the day for later submission with immigration petitions.

Marriage for Papers Scam: A Guide For International Students

Read: US Study Abroad Guide for International Student

There was no happy ending for Olufemi.  The marriage lasted for six months before he was deported home.  Marriage fraud is a serious crime in any part of the world for migrants.  Immigration marriage fraud is a booming underground industry with a 'bold' face online.  You can find newspaper or online ads in countries like India that promise an instant marriage, back-door access to a full-time job, and a fast track to citizenship.

In the United Kingdom, half of all marriage fraud immigration now involves people who first entered the country as students.  Getting marriage as an international student might work in favour of many, but it can be tricky business.  For instance, some argue that life in the UK is easier for couples than for single people. 

This is because “One spouse will study and can only work 20 hours weekly, which is [around] two shifts for most jobs per week, while the other spouse gets a work permit to work as much as they like.”

International students get attracted to the financial stability and pathway to citizenship associated with marriage abroad.  However, changes in their visa status, uncertainties about the marriage future, and long immigration processes could be some of the challenges to consider.

Unlike legal marriages, marriage for papers scams could destroy your future abroad.  While the process is fast, the result is not worth it. 

Getting Married as an International Student in the UK

When you legally get married as an international student in the UK, you can convert your student visa to a spouse visa upon its expiration.  With a spouse visa, you don’t have working restrictions and can achieve financial stability at a higher chance.

In addition, you can travel out of the United Kingdom as long as you don’t exceed a stay of 90 days, which may be noted in an application for settled status.  After five years on your spouse's visa, you can apply for indefinite leave to remain.

Unlike a fake marriage, international students on a Tier 4 student visa must sign a legal statement or “giving notice” at a local register office to show their intention to marry (29 days before their wedding ceremony).

In addition, the student must have lived in the registration district for the past seven days. 

 You must prove the following:

·         Have reasonable funds

·         Evidence that your relationship is genuine

·         Able to speak English at an acceptable level

·         Have acceptable accommodation in the UK

Getting Married as an International Student in the USA

International students on an F-1 visa can get married to a US citizen.  However, students must file the appropriate forms with USCIS before their F-1 visa expires.  Adjustment of Status is the process of applying for a marriage-based green card to stay and live legally in the US with a spouse is a process. 

A 90-day rule applies to getting married, which allows immigration officers to determine whether or not couples are truthful about their marriage.

Read: How to Get Your First Job as an International Student: A Guide

Forms that need to be filled out are:

1.    The family sponsorship form or Form I-130 (officially called the “Petition for Alien Relative”) 

2.    The green card application or Form I-485 (officially called the “Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status”)  


When an international student falls in love with a citizen, and they want to get married, a valid passport and a birth certificate are enough to prove the student’s identity.  However, marriage does not change immigration status, while obtaining a green card is more complicated.  

What is the Penalty for Marrying a Green Card?

You can face prosecution, imprisonment for up to five years, fined of up to $250,000, and deportation.  United States citizens may also face fines, jail time, and potential deportation. 

Getting Married as an International Student in Canada

Can I get Married on a Student Visa in Canada?


 As an international student at a Canadian university, the marriage procedure will almost be the same for a marriage between two Canadian citizens.  However, 

1.    You may marry a person of the same sex or opposite sex if you are above 18.

2.    For those under 18 years, you need to produce a certificate of consent for the marriage from your parents or Guardians.

3.    Marriages should be voluntary and not forced.

4.    Both partners will have to be present in Canada.

In most Canadian provinces, marriage procedures are conducted by authorized authorities in either a religious or civil marriage ceremony.

Forms Required To Be Filled For Marriage

1)    Banns: Traditional religious rituals are done when for the first time couple.  The full name for banns is "publication of banns, ”  which the church to declare a couple's intention to marry the public

2)    Marriage license: The application for a marriage license is valid for three months and even 30 days in some provinces

The list of acceptable documentation:

1.    A valid, current passport

2.    A Canadian citizenship card

3.    A valid driver’s license

4.    A government-issued birth certificate indicating any change of name in the past

5.    A record of immigration

Is Marriage Fraud a Serious Crime?


Marriage fraud is considered a crime.  Different countries have rules binding on marriage, and a divergent can land you in jail.

Read: Health Insurance for International Students: A Guide

A fraud marriage happens if:

1.    A citizen is either paid to marry someone from outside the country and get a green card.

2.    Marriages are arranged through mail-order bridal agencies where both the alien and the citizen know it is a fraud.

How the legitimacy of a marriage is considered::

Whether or not both people share the same religion and language

1.    Financial records of both the partners

2.    Any assets they share

3.    If they have lived together and for how long

4.    Whether they’ve gone on a vacation or celebrated important events

5.    If they have children or are planning to have them

6.    Whether they have any marital problems or arguments.

How Does the USCIS Identify Marriage Fraud?

The USCIS works with multiple affiliated agencies, including ICE and NVC, to prevent marriage fraud.

 In conclusion, don’t pay for a fake marriage that would put you in trouble Learn to explore different options before signing for a life of doom abroad.


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