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Internet Romance and Marriage Fraud
 

Many Americans befriend Algerians through Internet dating and social networking sites and these relationships often to lead marriage, or engagement.  While many of the marriages between Americans and Algerians are successful, the U.S. Embassy in Algiers warns against marriage fraud.  It is not uncommon for foreign nationals to enter into marriages with Americans solely for immigration purposes.  Relationships developed via correspondence, particularly those begun on the Internet, are especially susceptible to manipulation.  Often, the marriages end in divorce in the United States when the foreign national acquires legal permanent residence (“green card”) or U.S. citizenship.  In some cases, the new American or permanent resident then remarries a wife he divorced before, around the same time as entering into a relationship with a sponsoring American citizen.

Some of the signs that an Internet contact may be developing a relationship with an American in order to obtain an immigrant visa through marriage are:

  • Declarations of love within days or weeks of the initial contact;
  • Proposals or discussions of marriage soon after initial contact;
  • Requests to the American to visit the foreign national’s home country soon after the declaration of love or proposal;
  • Responses to messages from the American friend are along the lines “I love you/Sorry I missed your call,” or similarly one-sided conversations; 
  • Once engaged, married, or an immigrant visa petition is filed, suddenly starts missing scheduled appointments to chat or call.

While chat rooms, dating and social networking sites are great ways to make friends across international borders, the U.S. government urges Americans who meet foreign nationals on the Internet to take the time necessary to get to know them well before considering marriage keep in mind the signs noted above.   Entering into a marriage contract for the principal purpose of facilitating immigration to the United States for an alien is against U.S. law and can result in serious penalties, including fines and imprisonment for the American citizen and the foreign national involved.