“My BFF Is Being Exploited For a Marriage Visa and It’s All My Fault!”

Last August, a friend of mine visited from out of the country. Part of his stated mission for visiting the US was to “find a wife” so he could immigrate to the US. Toward the end of his stay, I made a mistake I’ll probably regret forever: my husband and I introduced him to my single, lonely best friend with the half-serious pretext that he could pay her for marriage (she is a non-working college student so we figured she could use the money, and she also desperately wants to leave her parents’ house.) Needless to say, two days after they first met they were “in love” and had decided to get married, no purchase necessary. They spent his remaining week and a half together, and immediately after he left she filed for their marriage Visa.

My best friend is wonderful. She’s intelligent, artistic, thoughtful and kind. But she is naive due to inexperience, and she does not love or appreciate herself. I truly feel that he has exploited this. I spoke to her in the beginning about the importance of taking things slowly, and I questioned her about whether or not she thinks he might be using her. She refused to consider anything other than a fairytale ending, and stated something to the effect that I’m just jealous because my marriage is “crappy”— which couldn’t be further from the truth.

I’ve stayed out of it since that conversation for the sake of our relationship, but their Visa is due to be finalized shortly and it’s heavy on my mind. She bought herself a $20 “engagement ring” from eBay since he wouldn’t buy her one. She visited his country to meet his family and the two fought much of the time; he had been watching porn while she was there and she was insulted. He also advised her that she needed to lose weight, grow her hair longer, and shave her “mustache,” all of which she has been working on per his request. It also troubles me that he has a Facebook that exists only to enable him to comment on her statuses; he has no other friends than her, my husband, and me. His brother has one and has hundreds of friends so I really don’t think it’s a cultural thing. The entire course of this relationship has been miserable for her, but she is so determined to make it work that none of it matters.

It is worth noting that she still lives in the same bedroom in her parents’ house that she lived in when we were in elementary school, and that this is where the two plan on living once married. This is her first relationship. She is 21, he 23. Her fiancé does not have any sort of degree or trade skill, and we live in an area with one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. Her father has just recently agreed to sign sponsorship documents, accepting financial responsibility for her fiancé for as long as he remains in the United States. Additionally, there has been talk of having children.

I know part of life is accepting the things you can not change, but I’m having a horrible time letting this go because I feel responsible for putting her in this crappy situation, knowing she doesn’t have the self-love to recognize that she deserves a man who will marry her, no strings attached. They also may be asking me to give a statement to the government validating the relationship and I don’t know what to say. Any advice? — Visa to Disaster

Wow, you really screwed up on this one, didn’t you? I’m sure you’ve beaten yourself up enough already, so I will restrain myself from asking what the hell you were thinking introducing what sounds like a pretty smarmy guy to your young, naive, insecure BFF. The damage has been done and the best you can hope for now is that somehow your friend comes to her senses before the marriage happens, or the government intervenes and disrupts this marriage fantasy. Hmm, how might that be able to happen??

I know! You could agree to give a statement to the government and then tell the officials the truth! Tell them that you knew this guy before he met your friend and that he told you he wanted to find someone to marry so that he could get a visa to immigrate to the US. It may not be enough to prevent the wedding, but it could at least provide enough reasonable doubt for officials to look into the relationship further. Maybe it would buy a little time, too — time in which you could speak to your friend’s family about what you know. Perhaps your friend’s father wouldn’t be in such a hurry to financially support this foreigner if he knew what his real intentions were with his daughter.

Yes, by butting in further, you run the risk of alienating your best friend. Maybe forever. There’s a chance that if she finds out you “sabotaged” her marriage, she’ll never speak to you again. But weigh that risk against the one where she stays in her childhood bedroom with this man, marries him and has a baby or two, goes on welfare because neither of them can get a job, and then her deadbeat, controlling husband runs off with some stripper he meets down at the Pink Cadillac some Saturday night, and your friend’s left with a broken heart, a shattered ego and a couple extra mouths to feed. Which is the risk you can live with in better conscience? The choice is yours. This is a mess you are partly responsible for. The least you can do is try to clean it up a little before it gets worse.

*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.


  1. Wendy all I have to say on this one is your hit the nail with the hammer on the head.

    1. fast eddie says:

      Wendy said it perfectly. Give me his name and address and I’ll report him the INS. Couldn’t care less if she doesn’t speak to me again.

      1. The INS doesn’t exist anymore, it’s called ICE now

      2. Skyblossom says:

        Immigration is now part of Homeland Security.

      3. fast eddie says:

        Correction noted, thank you both.

  2. ReginaRey says:

    I agree with Wendy – Since you know for a fact that this guy is using your naive friend to gain citizenship, I think the best thing you can do is to report him. You will almost certainly lose your friend, the relationship with her family, and will probably be embroiled in the legal (and other) ramifications for quite some time. If I were you, I would accept all of those consequences as the price you willingly pay for atonement.

  3. I agree-to a point. I mean, it probably is a good idea to report him (because he obviously is not sincere about his feelings or the relationship), but people got to take responsibility for their own actions at some point. It’s not like the LW made the guy ask her friend to marry him, nor did she make the friend say “yes”. She’s tried many ways to warn her friend, but it sounds like the friend just does not want to listen.

    I’ve been that friend before. I’ve had friends who have been that friend before. People can be stubborn as fuck. In the end-her friend is an adult,and if she is so adamant about doing things her way and not considering looking at the big picture, even after LW intervenes with immigration and a talk with friend’s parents, then it’s time to let the friend make her own mistakes.

    That’s just my opinion…

    1. I agree with you, the friend definitely is an adult that should take responsibilty for her own actions, but sometimes when you see someone you love going straight downhill (& knowing you kind of initiated it) you have to take drastic measures. Her friend is clearly very immature & isnecure (as she stated) & if the LW has the opportunity to step in, I think she’ll walk away with a better feeling knowing she at least tried to do something.

    2. I agree COMPLETELY. I don’t understand why the friend is at any fault. She shouldn’t be blaming herself for anything! That girl is an adult (technically) and should be able to make her own decisions. If any secondary party is to blame, what about the father? This isn’t an exchange student he’s sponsoring, it’s his future son!

      I can’t understand any of this at all. LW should go easy on herself. And I hope the girl comes to her senses. And yes, I definitely think he should be reported.

      1. I have to admit, I don’t usually make light of serious situations, but you had me at “stubborn as fuck”. LOVE IT!

  4. Write the letter!! That’s pretty much the only option left. Wendy’s right, there’s a high risk you’ll lose her, but at the end of the day, friends come & go…It’ll hurt, but you’ll have a clear conscience knowing you tried to fix what you messed up & maybe even save her.
    If she does confront you tell her that even though she can’t see it now, you did it because you love her and only want what’s best for her & you feel very guilty for initiating this whole thing in the first place. If she is truly your best friend, she will understand after the initial anger period & realize what you did for her.
    Just learn from this mistake, stop beating yourself up, and take action! Write that letter & then talk to her parents! Do it before it’s too late! The possible consequences do not outweigh you’re friend’s very possible doomed future.

    1. Well, not to close your window of opportunity, but that letter that she’s talking about goes to the couple first and they submit it to immigration themselves, so it might now work out exactly as Wendy was thinking. I suppose she could go ahead and write it that way just so that her friend can see that she is serious about her warnings. Unfortunately, in the end I agree with the people who say that the LW’s friend is responsible for her own choices.

  5. You should also be aware of the legal ramifications of falsely vouching for the relationship. You obviously don’t approve, so why not tell her you can’t vouch and would be forced to reveal what _you_ believe his true intentions are?

    The other option is to approach this from the dad’s side. I’m having a hard time understanding how he is okay with this and willing to financially support and house the couple. This leads me to believe he either a) doesn’t fully understand the situation, or b) he truly is okay with this guy and there is more to their relationship than what you have witnessed. Or I guess c) he is a complete and utter push over and gives his daughter whatever she wants. But given he appears to be the glue that is going to hold his marriage together, HE may be the best person to be able to prevent this from going through.

    Prepare to lose your friend. It’s likely going to happen either way. Option A you don’t say anything and you probably distance yourself from the couple because of your disapproval in the whole situation or you don’t hear from her much because she’s sucked into a shitty marriage. Or option B you say something, dissolve the marriage, and your friend hates you. Option B is the truly benevolent act. You could be saving her life even though she’ll hate you for it.

  6. elisabeth says:

    But wait, *has* the LW confronted her friend about this at all? I may have missed something, but it doesn’t sound like the LW has made an effort to appeal to her friend beyond the initial name-calling argument (anyone else wondering if the “crappy” marriage comment struck a chord?). I’m not sure it’s the best idea for the LW to make her statement and basically blindside the unfortunate bride without another attempt at peer-to-peer communication first. =/ That’d be a big blow.

    I do agree it’s an unfortunate situation all around. I just think there might be better ways for the LW to take responsibility before decrying the marriage to the government.

    1. It was the friend that implied the LW’s marriage was crappy when she tried to talk sense into her, not the other way around.

      1. elisabeth says:

        I did understand that, but the LW is so quick to say that that’s not the case, maybe it struck a little deeper than she let on? Of course, it’s hard to tell from a letter.

      2. That’s true; it is a possibiliy. Since her best friend is 21, she must be somewhere in that age range so she also got married young. Given that this fiance guy is so out there, I’m not sure I have too much faith in her perception of what a good relationship is. 😛 And either way, the main problem is her best friend’s exploitation.

        My two cents is that she should talk to her best friend, and if she can’t see the light of day then… she’s an adult. They’ll get divorced quickly enough? Wow, I’m depressing today.

      3. eh, it’s a short letter. you can only get so many details in. this letter isn’t about her marriage so of course she’s going to dismiss a comment about her marriage

  7. Golden_Key says:

    I agree that you should try to do what you can by telling the truth to the government officials. You will only continue to feel guilty if you don’t do everything within your power to prevent this. However, at the end of the day, it’s your friend’s decision, and you will have to let go at some point. Trust me, I know…I had to watch my oldest friend (I’ve known her since I was three) get engaged our freshman year of college, break up with the guy, get married to another guy right after our junior year of college (whom she had known for a total of six months and been engaged to for about three of those months), get pregnant, have a miscarriage, get divorced (he was an emotionally abusive psychopath) within a year of them getting married, and be married again to yet a different guy by the following July (this last summer). Although none of this was something I had anything to do with, she is so sweet and naive that I still feel like I should have somehow known to help her or tried harder, but we haven’t lived in the same place in over a decade and I didn’t know how to approach her. At least you have a way to possibly help your friend before her life gets really screwed up. Try to help–you will feel better, even if you lose your friend.

    I guess I’m also curious as to why this guy wanted to marry someone to stay in the country rather than getting a green card (and thus a job, so he could support himself rather than relying on your friend’s father) or a student visa (so he could attain some trade skills and/or a degree, since you said he has neither). That is seriously messed up, IMO.

    1. ReginaRey says:

      In response to this: ” I guess I’m also curious as to why this guy wanted to marry someone to stay in the country rather than getting a green card (and thus a job, so he could support himself rather than relying on your friend’s father)” – Because he’s lazy, and doesn’t have the moral compass to feel shame for anything that he’s doing.

    2. I’ve worked with international students and workers. I don’t know where you’ve been but it’s not that easy to get a green card OR a job as a non citizen. In order to get a green card someone has to sponsor you- either immediate family or a job. Sponsoring you means that they have say they’re going to support you financially, among other things. But in order to get a job the company that’s hiring you has to be willing to do all the immigration paperwork for you to help you get that work visa (which can take up to 5 years and the person can’t leave the job while their company is doing the paperwork for them) AND they have to prove that there isn’t an American citizen capable of doing the job/has the qualifications to justify hiring a non citizen. In addition, countries are only allotted a certain number of work visas, etc each year. Some countries have higher immigration to the U.S. than others and if he’s from one of the higher immigration countries, there would be A LOT of competition. Also he’s probably not doing the student thing because he either can’t get accepted OR doesn’t have the money. In order to get a student visa you have to show that you are financially able to pay for school and living expenses for one year, like money in the bank- which for most places is going to be AT LEAST $40,000 a year.
      And immigration restrictions are getting tighter all the time.

      1. ReginaRey says:

        I’m not sure any of that justifies him taking advantage of a naive girl and her family.

      2. I wouldnt say it justifies it either, and I dont think thats what camille is saying either. Its just its not as simple as him being too ‘lazy’ to apply for a green card or something.

      3. ReginaRey says:

        I guess I just took from the letter that his intent and priority was to find a wife, not try to get a job and go about obtaining a green card in a legal way. I’m just completely sketched out by this dude, and am having a hard time being objective after what the LW said about his character. Then again, there’s only so much we can know from her.

      4. Maybe not “lazy” specifically, but something along those lines. Unless he’s some sort of refugee, he’s capable of waiting the time it takes to try to get a green card. Yes, if you try and can’t get one or if it takes a lot of paperwork and time, it sucks, but to have no plans at all to do that and to immediately decide to defraud the government and take advantage of a young woman, I’d say is pretty close.

      5. Golden_Key says:

        I wasn’t trying to imply that it would be easy for him to get a green card or student visa, or that he is lazy for not doing so–I have known people to do both, and when I was younger, my father helped a friend obtain a green card, and yes, it took quite a long time. But because it may be difficult or even impossible for him to get a green card or student visa in no way justifies him taking advantage of the LW’s best friend. The LW mentioned that he was visiting the U.S. to find a wife, and that is what I take issue with. Perhaps he has tried other avenues and failed, but if he hasn’t tried those, I think he should have tried those first. I also think marriage should not be something that one party is manipulated into, which is what I believe to be happening in this case. That is all I meant to say–I don’t even mean to say that I agree with our immigration laws and policies, because I don’t. Hopefully that cleared up my position a bit.

      6. Skyblossom says:

        I don’t think anyone is saying it’s right for him to do what he’s doing, just the reason that he’s doing it. It’s the easiest path to permanent residency. Unless you get married it’s almost impossible to legally work in this country. The other option is to get a family member who has already gotten citizenship to sponsor you. This guy is scum.

    3. Skyblossom says:

      Because it is difficult to get a greencard even with an advanced degree and this guy really has no job skills. If you’re married you can go through the process and it’s almost automatic to get the greencard. Then you have to wait a set number of years (I think it’s three) and then you can apply for citizenship. After getting citizenship he could dump the wife and her family and go his way because he wouldn’t need them anymore.

  8. I kind of agree with you. I don’t really think it was the LW intention for her friend to fall for this guy & blaming her seems a bit harsh. The friends seems to be insecure and unfortunately this RB (rat bastard) preyed on that. I think that maybe she should try to speak to her once more and then if her friend is still determined to marry him wish her well & tell her that she will not be able to vouch for them.

    1. I stand corrected it was her intention for friend to make money off the RB.

  9. spaceboy761 says:

    I’m not sure about the feasibility or effectiveness of the ‘letter to the government’ plan since I have zero experience with visa laws, but it might be a good place to start. I would round up whoever is on-board and stage some kind of an intervention. If your friend subsequently hates you forever for breaking up her “marriage” ,then so be it. If the LW truly loved her friend, she would be willing to do whatever it takes to make sure that this marriage never takes place, even if that means sacrificing the friendship itself. That’s what love does.

  10. LW, unless you want to put your BFF in jail, don’t report her to the authorities. LW’s friend is just as guilty as her future husband for defrauding the government. He will probably be deported, and I don’t know what will happen to the father, since he will sign the sponsorship documents.

    You should just decline to write the letter, and maybe have a talk with her dad as to why you are not agreeing to his daughter marrying your friend.

    1. I think it could be presented in this way to the government: the girl’s intentions are sincere, but the man’s intentions are not. Therefore, the only person purposefully defrauding the government would be the man. And, anyway, that is a relatively accurate assessment of the situation. The man has a great deal to gain from the union, the girl not so much (in terms of tangible advantages). The girl probably does “love” him, in the same way I “loved” my crappy high school boyfriend. The girl is not thinking straight, but I don’t think her motives are profit-driven, so to speak. I realize that regardless of the way the LW presents it to the government, there is risk. I actually think she should consider her legal situation: couldn’t it seem like she orchestrated the whole thing?

    2. How is she guilty of fraud when she believes she is in love with him and they will have a “fairytail” ending? And we have no way of knowing what her father believes. I highly doubt any half-way decent father would knowingly let his daughter get taken advantage of this way. He’s probably only heard her side and thinks she’s marrying a guy she loves with all her heart and who loves her back.

    3. A friend of mine lost his house to the IRS because he didn’t pay his taxes. He couldn’t pay taxes because he is unemployed. Thanks to Uncle Sam, he’s now unemployed and homeless. So excuse me for not having complete trust in our government.

      If you get the authorities involved, you have absolutely no control over what will happen next. I wouldn’t be willing to take that risk. Even if the BFF doesn’t get thrown in jail, who knows what will happen to her next time she wants to get married.

  11. ArtsyGirl says:

    This is a sadly common story. Predators can often smell the desperate and it sounds like the LW’s friend probably smells like Thanksgiving dinner. Like other posters have mentioned sitting and calmly talking to the girl, her parents, and even the government is possibly the only way to stop this particular situation but I think even more worrisome is the fact that the friend would be willing to ignore so many red flags. If she doesn’t marry this guy, she is likely to wander into another toxic relationship down the road. After this is resolved, no matter which way that happens, I would suggest the friend seek some therapy.

    As for people who mentioned the guy getting a visa some other way, the US has a rule that only a certain percentage of immigrates from each country can move here each year. First world countries and trade partners have priority while third world countries only the best and brightest (which does not sound like this guy) are able to move here and that is after a lot of work and expense. I have two examples of people attempting to get visas here.

    1. My cousin is engaged to a guy she met in school who is from Italy. He has a masters degree in engineering, had a job lined up with a respected company, people willing to sponsor him, read and spoke the language – and still he had to enter into a lottery to get a visa. He did get it but it was a lot of bureaucratic red tape, and Italy is one of the priority countries.
    2. One of my friends has been in the country to attend bachelors, masters, and PhD programs from top universities for 10 years. He had spent his childhood in New Zealand, but was actually born in South Korea. Because he was born in South Korea he will not be able to get a visa even though he no longer holds citizenship with that country. He is planning on getting married to his long time girlfriend (even though they do not believe in marriage) just so he can stay in this country.

  12. Fairhaired Child says:

    I dont know how hard it is to get a marriage visa for the US, but I know that too get a marriage visa for England it is very difficult and they must have proof of constant conversations (phone bills,emails,aim etc) and show that both parties have traveled repeatedly to visit each other in each country. My friend got married to her husband who lives in England and it was extremely hard for them to get a visa for her to get married. They had to have a ton of records on paper of their relationship before she was able to move there for the wedding and to be able to apply for citizenship.

    Maybe its just easier for people to cheat the system to come into the US but its very hard to go the opposite way into other countries for sure. Maybe someone else can expand on this….

    Either way I think the LW should speak to the friend again, telling her how she was wrong to put her in that spot (place the blame on HERSELF and apologize for it!) and that she regrets introducing them but cherishes her friend so much that she knows that the friend deserves better. (Remember to say “I” not a lot of “You’s”) And the LW should speak to the family of her friend to see how they feel about it before telling them how she played a awful part in dealing her friend this hand that could lead to a very miserable and controlling life in the future. See if the family would also go to the govt. and state how the marriage is a sham – and tell them that you intend to not support the marriage and to expose the guys intentions to the govt.

    1. Green_Blessings_Goddess says:

      They can get married without a problem, the problem will come most likely with the visa for him to stay being approved by the USA govt. Anyone can get married but they get a conditional 2 year marriage and have to prove they have a “bonnafide” marriage, similar to what your friend is going through in England, there is a process to it too, hopefully this one won’t fall through the cracks, I really feel for this lonely girl that is being taken advantage of, if her father won’t sponsor her that can help to put a monkey wrench in the plans, he needs to prove he has a sponsor that will support him before he can get the visa.

  13. Yea, immigration is a bitch, and it works both ways. I’m an American trying to relocate to the EU and it is SOOOOO difficult. 🙁 I don’t want to marry my boyfriend just to get a work and residence permit… but I don’t want to break up just because I don’t have one either. Tough stuff 🙁

    1. ArtsyGirl says:

      Best of luck Jess – have you tried applying for a graduate program? Sometimes that is easier, and after you have established residency through school it is easier to get a visa for work.

      1. I’m in grad school in his country right now. They have new immigration laws coming into effect in July that make it easier for those who have gone to grad school in the country to get a work permit, so I’m hoping that’s the ticket. fingers crossed!

  14. Anne (I Go To 11) says:

    I agree, to a point. Unless the friend has some sort of developmental issue that affects her comprehension abilities, she’s an adult and therefore is capable of being responsible for her own actions. LW, you may have introduced her to this guy, but how were you to know your friend would actually go through with this to the extent she has?

    It’s not funny that you knew he wanted an excuse for a green card, and introduced him to your friend without letting her in on the “half-serious pretext”, but I’m sure you know that by now. So since you can’t change the past, you should forgive yourself for your mistake and try to figure out what you CAN change. Being honest about this guy’s intentions with the immigration authorities is one step in the right direction. The USCIS isn’t as dumb as people might think; if this wedding does go forward, he’s going to raise some red flags if he’s applying for a green card immediately afterward. They may subject the couple to an interrogation to see how well they REALLY know each other, so as to sniff out any fraud. And for those wondering why this guy doesn’t get a work or student visa or find some other way to become naturalized, it’s because it’s considered a “fast track” to naturalization to get married to a US citizen; one reason why is because there are no annual quota restrictions this way. I found some more basic info on this issue here: http://shusterman.com/greencardsthroughmarriage.html

    LW, my advice is to let your conscience be your guide here. Disney mantras aside, it’s a tough situation, and I wish you the best of luck. As others have pointed out, there’s a possibility you’ll lose her as a friend. But it’s better than seeing her get hurt any further, no?

    1. Skyblossom says:

      There is always an interview with both spouses when someone applies for a greencard through their spouse. Usually the application does occur soon after the marriage because most couples need the spouse to be working and visas have time limits and if you’ve spent most of the time that they were here getting to know them then their visa is running out by the time you decide to get married.

      The application includes fingerprints and an extensive background check. They examine the marriage liscense to make sure there was a legal marriage and they interview both husband and wife. They are more apt to see the marriage as real if it occured in a church (like the Catholic church which doesn’t recognize divorce) and you invited your family, especially extended family. They will look at the amount of time the couple spent together before agreeing to marry and get a feel for the marriage. They don’t hesitate to turn down applicants that they don’t believe, I’ve personally seen this.

      1. yep i believe they ask for pictures of the couple from vacations, holidays, etc. i think this marriage would be under strong suspect even without the LWs testimony

  15. Yikes, with friends like this, who needs enemies? Setting your BEST friend up with a sleazy exploitative guy who made his intentions VERY CLEAR was a crappy move.

    1. Green_Blessings_Goddess says:

      she sounds more like a frenemy than a friend. Why introduce someone like this whom has stated his despicable intentions outright from the start and introduce him to an insecure lonely girl so he can use her.

      There are people that do meet and fall in love and those situations are although few do happen but this one is clearly not that.

  16. DaisyJorts says:

    How can the LW even be friends with a guy like this? He sounds like such a shady gaga. I’d say do everything in your power to stop this from taking place, dump the sketchy guy ‘friend’, and take your girl friend out for a cocktail and show her she IS worth real love.

    Also, I am shocked that the girl’s father is perfectly fine with supporting a stranger in his house, especially when they have no intention of working. Dysfunctional much?

    1. Skyblossom says:

      It sounds odd to me too. My dads would try to stop their daughter from marrying some guy she got engaged to after only two days and couldn’t see much after that point because he lived in another country.

      1. Skyblossom says:

        I meant to say most dads would try to stop their daughter.

  17. RoyalEagle0408 says:

    I’m wondering why you were friends with this guy in the first place. Also, I agree with reporting him, but do try to emphasize that your friend is naive and most likely being manipulated into this marriage to try to save her from getting into trouble.

    And honestly, if you lose your relationship with your friend, that’s just the price you might have to pay for the mistake you made. Maybe she’ll see the guy for what he really is and will appreciate being rescued. In the end it’s really about what you can live with.

  18. I think the LW’s friend is of the opinion that, if she doesn’t marry him, she’ll never get another shot at marriage, and I find that to be a tragic thing, especially so in someone so young. She will be very hard to convince to not marry him, since so much, to her, depends on the validation of a marriage, so she’ll excuse almost anything and won’t see the light until it is too late.

    Thus, I agree that, if the LW wants to fix what she has created, she needs to be honest with the government – it’s not only the right thing to do, it’s the legally required thing to do. She can be completely honest without in any way getting her friend into trouble. I am quite certain that her friend is not the first person to ever be duped into marrying someone in order to get a visa, and in fact likely won’t even be the first person that day which the official has had to deal with, and the feds are not going to do anything to someone who was misled and taken advantage of.

    I also feel the LW needs to tell her friend of her intention and should, as others have said, talk with the father and present that which she presented to us.

    1. SpyGlassez says:

      I saw an aspect of this, too (RE: thinking she won’t have another chance) and you’re right; it is terribly sad.

  19. Green_Blessings_Goddess says:

    You really did screw up Visa to Disaster, you can start by doing several things, #1 Contact the local immigration office and tell them what you know and give a statement. #2. Talk to her parents about what you know, they may be mad at you but better they find out before hand than after.

    #3. Just because they get married doesn’t mean he will automatically be able to stay, the INS will do a check into the marriage and if it is not seen as bonnafide, they can/will deport him.

    Talk to her parents and her again, this train wreck may already be in motion and too late. I have to ask you why were you so mean to your friend whom you knew is insecure and lonely to introduce her to a pariah that wants to take advantage of her? You sound more like a frenemy than a friend and I really hope this nastiness you inflicted on your friend comes back to you times 3. This is not nice.

    If you can talk to her dad and he will withdraw his sponsorship, maybe they can not get the visa, there are options but it sounds like your friend thinks this is the fairytale she’s been waiting for.

    I saw this a lot when I was 18, a 300 lbs woman with an immigrant that was illegal using her to make her think he loved her so she would marry him and then after he got his visa he would dump her, this is so commonplace today, another person that did the same thing, got the visa after 5 years of being married and then magically it was time to get a divorce.

    This was terrible thing you did to your “friend”. Shame on you!

  20. I agree with what Wendy and other commentators have said as far as being willing to lose the friendship in order to do what is right for your friend. Talk to the friend directly, talk to the dad, talk to immigration (assuming it won’t get your friend in trouble, which I don’t think it would since she has altruistic motives.)

    LW- you feel horrible about setting this situation up and I understand that. Ultimately though, it isn’t your fault that your friend is so insecure/desperate as to allow a relationship like this to exist in the first place. Honestly, if it hadn’t been this guy, it would probably be someone else just as bad, if not worse. People should love their friends and do what they can to help them, but at the end of the day, your choices and your life are your responsibility. So do what you can to salvage the situation now LW, but know that it isn’t ALL your fault.

  21. BoomChakaLaka says:

    Since the LW and friend have been friends for years, why doesn’t she just tell her the truth? That they told the sneaky guy he might find someone, set the two up, and voila? Why doesn’t she stress that the guy is not good enough. Then and only then, if the friend isn’t willing to listen she should butt out. But I feel like reporting the guy might be a bit subversive and could potentially do more damage than help.

    1. elisabeth says:

      Exactly. This is the LW’s BFF, and regardless of her mistake, doesn’t she owe it to the BFF to muster up the courage to talk to her friend FIRST, before reporting them or writing a letter or anything that would be seen as a huge slap in the face?

  22. AnitaBath says:

    I don’t know, this just seems so invasive and forceful. What if it leads to even more drastic measures? What if she’s so determined to be with him that SHE moves to HIS country? I guess it’s kind of unlikely that would happen if the guy is aiming for a visa, but you don’t know how his mind works, and he might keep her around, treat her like shit, and exploit her for his future visa purposes.

    You might look into visas more. It’s not the like government is naive when it comes to things like that. They’re going to see they’ve hardly been together at all, they’re probably going to be suspicious anyway. Declining to vouch for them might be all it takes? I have a friend who just went through stuff like that. I think she was having some immigration problems anyway (from China, even though she’d been in the US for almost a decade) when she got married (to a guy she loved and had been with for a year). It’s almost 2 years later and they only finally got it sorted out, but they had to make tons of trips to see a judge, they had to show all kinds of things, like they had a joint bank account, the marriage license, pictures from the wedding, etc. I don’t think him getting a visa is just as easy as marrying an American?

    1. AnitaBath says:

      I’m kind of ignorant about immigration, but the more I think about it, it might not have been her visa my friend was going for. Renewing it? Citizenship maybe? I feel bad I don’t know, all I know is everything is okay now!

  23. WatersEdge says:

    Well, I think that the LW is being unfairly trashed for introducing her friend to this man. I doubt that the LW ever saw anything like this occurring as a result of her actions. Live and learn- don’t put vulnerable people in situations where they could be exploited. This probably makes me a jerk, but I wouldn’t want to be friends with someone who was so weak and had such low self-esteem. But then again, I like a drama-free life.

    The friend is an adult and she can make her own decisions. If she chooses to stay with a man who only wants a visa, who is unemployed and has no prospects, and with whom she does not get along, then that is her choice. You’ve told her how you felt about it and it’s sad that she doesn’t think that she deserves any better. As for her father- I wouldn’t bother telling him. Where do you think the friend got the idea that she can’t do any better, anyway?

    I think that you should tell the authorities. Not to protect your friend (because guaranteed she will go out and find some other loser to ruin her life; she seems like she needs to learn her lesson the hard way) but because you need to protect yourself. You know that he is taking advantage of your friend to defraud the government. I have a feeling that this guy will not get his visa even after his marriage because it’s a sham and they see right through this type of thing.

    Tell the authorities what you know. Don’t collude with these people. My honest opinion is that if you need to watch your friend like a puppy to ensure that she doesn’t make terrible life choices, then it’s probably not a rewarding friendship. Ditto for the loser looking for the visa. I’d tell the authorities, and stay away from both of them, at least until she gets her life together a bit.

    1. You said what I was trying to say (above) but more eloquently! Agree!

  24. fallonthecity says:

    Ugh. Look, I know immigration policy in this country is borderline ridiculous, and I have international friends who have busted their asses to be able to live in the US. I don’t really feel sorry for people like this guy, though (why are you friends with him, again?!). The US doesn’t need to import a sleaze bag like him — we manage to grow plenty of our own, thank you.

    I think the other comments have covered what you should do to try to prevent this marriage… you have to go to the government, and you have to be prepared for the possibility that your friend will never forgive you (although I think she will, in the long run). And, seriously — stop associating with this guy, he is obviously not good company to keep!

  25. Visa to Disaster says:

    Hello, LW here. I apologize, I’ve omitted some details and was unclear on others.

    1. My friend was perfectly aware from the beginning that he was trying to find someone to marry. The initial contact went something like, “hey, wanna get married for money? hahha just kidding” but they met and “fell in love” anyway. She was aware of his “find a girl to marry” mission from the get-go. I knew she was naive, but I couldn’t fathom her being this naive.

    2. Her fiance is someone I’ve known l for years and in all other respects he is a stand-up guy. I never would have expected this of him. He did state he would prefer a real marriage, though he did hint that may be to pass it off on his family.

    3. Early on in this relationship I did meet with her mother with whom I have a relationship as well. I told her about everything, the facebook, the initial pay to get married idea, all that. I even told her that my friend would approach her and her husband for sponsorship. Her mother said then that they wouldn’t, but she refused to step in in any other means. She seemed on board with the whole idea, frankly. I feel bad for my friend because I really think her parents are either a) totally spineless pushovers, or b) of the persuasion that this is their daughter’s only shot at ever getting married, which is insane.

    4. The conversation I had with my friend was much more in-depth, and I did specify that I truly think he’s using her, but she didn’t care what I thought. Ever since that conversation she has taken steps to avoid me. Other friends of hers feel the same way as I do but won’t step in for fear of her cutting them out as she did me. I said to her I would understand if she didn’t want to be friends with me for saying so, but I told her I thought this all was a horrible idea.

    I do know they talk a lot, and to some extent he can pull off that he does care for her to some degree, but he would not be marrying her if there was no visa involved. That disturbs me, but she doesn’t seem to mind.

    1. Hi Visa to Disaster, and thank you for replying.

      I think, really, that all you can so is mention whatever your conscious tells you to when you’re interviewed. You were upfront from the very beginning with her, you’ve tried to tell her and her family, and at this point it’s not really as though you are to blame. Yes, you introduced them, but you were never at any point deceitful, you thought he was a good guy (and likely still do, aside from whatever comes of this), and your best friend refuses to listen to you. It’s not as though you tricked her.

    2. WatersEdge says:

      As I said above… Is this girl really someone you want in your life? There are plenty of nice people out there who have their acts together who you can spend time with. People who inspire you to be better, and who don’t make you feel like you have to clean up their messes and possibly involve the government.

      If they both insist that they are “in love”, I don’t know that there’s much that you can do. You can tell the authorities that you are suspicious of his intentions because of previous comments he has made. I think they’re gonna figure it out and deny him the visa in the end either way.

    3. ArtsyGirl says:

      I blame the romance novels and Disney for these types of situations. If your friend was in England I imagine she would be a Harry Hunter.

      Regarding the situation it sounds like you have done everything in your power and now all you can do is stand by your friend and give her love and support when the relationships crashes and burns.

    4. It’s clearly too late for you to do anything. You’ve talked to everyone involved and they have decided not to heed your advice. I think at this point all you can do is tell your friend that you do not intend to lie to the government for her and leave it at that. If homeland security calls and asks you questions about them, just be honest in that you don’t think his intentions are completely honorable, but your friend says she loves him. Time to wash your hands of this guilt and move forward.

  26. I didnt’ have a chance to see if anyone else was disturbed by one little detail in LW’s note that bugged the hell out of me: “…my husband and I introduced him to my single, lonely best friend with the half-serious pretext that he could pay her for marriage….”

    Half-serious? Really? Does that mean you partially thought this would be a good idea? That’s not what a friend does for another friend. LW and her husband, after they tell INS what they know, owe their friend a very big apology and explanation for helping create this mess.

    1. Visa to Disaster says:

      It was a totally stupid idea, but we were thinking we’d have a laugh, joke about it, and then nothing would actually happen.

      1. I believe that you didn’t actually expect what ended up happening to happen. You’re not responsible for all the things that happened afterwards. Your friend, naive that she is, is still a legal adult and should be able to take responsibility for her decisions and actions. I am certain that, if you realized how gullible she was then, you’d never have made the introduction.

      2. WatersEdge says:

        I agree- I really don’t think you’re to blame in this scenario.

      3. Does the friend know? I feel for all of you involved – the friend especially. You have to tell the friend and INS everything. Good luck to you all.

  27. I have had a very similar situation. My old roommate/ ex bff was canadian and wanted US citizenship so she married a boy who went to college with us. They had only begun hanging out a month before and she was very wealthy so she paid him off. I told her I didn’t think it was a good idea for legal reasons and because he was drug addict and was openly gay. I don’t think there is anything wrong with being gay but he had a boyfriend and tons of photos of them up on facebook and a history of being interested in only men, so I did not see how they would not be caught. I handled the situation poorly and told the girl I would not go to their wedding and would not lie if I had to do a government interview. I spoke to lawyers about it and was advised that if I lied in an interview I could be sent to prison for aiding a fraud green card marriage. I did lose that friendship. It has been a year and she still hates me, even though we had previously lived together for over 3 years and were extremely close.
    My advice is to talk to your friend who needs the visa. I understand it is hard to find a job here and school is almost doubly expensive for foreigners. You should ask him if he is only marrying your friend to be a citizen and tell him that you care about your friend more than his citizen status. Then you should urge him to talk to your friend. You don’t know if they have already discussed this and she still wants to marry him. I would not get involved further. Let your girl friend know you don’t agree but that you will support her if anything goes wrong. I would not send a letter to the government or try to screw them over. That could put both of them in prison with a very expensive bail and the foreigner would never get to enter the US again.
    Make sure both your friends know the risks and then just be a support system. Sounds like your girl friend will need that. It is their decision.
    * sorry if I am not correct on all laws/fines. I spoke to a lawyer about it two years ago and things might have changed/i may remember incorrectly. If there is a mistake feel free to correct it but please don’t be rude about it! Thanks 🙂

    1. what happened with your friend? Did she get the visa?

  28. Dude. As someone who has spent the past year and a half dealing with the visa process, her telling the government that this guy is just in it for the visa will TOTALLY prevent him from getting one. DO THAT PLEASE, friend. You owe it to this poor girl.

  29. Calliopedork says:

    Oh my, I actually know someone this recently happened to. She met a man from ghana who was here on vacation, fell in “love” with him then married him, he got a short visa (2years I think) and they moved in together. During the time he had the visa he rarely worked and she supported him. He convinced her that it was a good plan to have a baby then rather than wait because it would make it easier for him to get full citizenship. Right after their son turned one the husband applied for and got citizenship(after alot of paperwork and filing fees). One month after his citizenship was approved she was telling me about how his personality had changed, he was mean to her now and ignored their son. Now she is a divorced single mother and he is dating an 18 year old.

    1. That’s so sad! 🙁

  30. Theenemyofmyenemyisagrilledcheesesandwich says:

    I have no constructive advice on this one. I just think it’s hilarious when people light a stick of dynamite and then act surprised when it blows up. Come on, people!

  31. caitie_didn't says:

    Yikes, what a crappy situation. Lw’s friend is chronologically an adult (although her emotional age seems debatable), so she can make her own decisions. That means that it’s not *really* the LW’s fault that her friend is now in this situation. From a moral standpoint, though, I think the LW is obligated to contact immigration and explain the scenario or give them an official statement as necessary.

    And it makes me really sad to think of the LW’s friend, whose own parents believe this is her only shot at marriage. I doubt there will be a friendship left after this, but I hope someone encourages this girl to get some therapy.

  32. The letter writer is being very fairly trashed. She caused the problem, with intent to defraud the government and involve her bff in a profitable fraud. In her own words:
    “my husband and I introduced him to my single, lonely best friend with the half-serious pretext that he could pay her for marriage (she is a non-working college student so we figured she could use the money, and she also desperately wants to leave her parents’ house.)”

    So — her only complaint seems to be that her bff fell in love with the overseas friend, rather than just agreeing to a sham marriage for money. Exactly how does one try to bring about such a sham ‘half seriously’? I suspect LW’s real concern is that she may be found legally liable as the one who proposed a sham marriage to her bff. LW definitely seems like a nasty piece of work.

    1. Not only do I think you’re being unduly harsh, but there’s no way the LW would be found legally liable because she introduced the two of them.

      1. She’d certainly be liable if she was the one who proposed a sham marriage in introducing the two of them.

      2. Um, no. Introducing one friend to another and mentioning they should get married isn’t in any way going to subject her to any sort of legal liability for those friends actually getting married for visa purposes.

        Of course, I could be wrong, so I welcome any valid evidence to the contrary.

        *commences holding breath*

    2. Visa to Disaster says:

      If you saw the posts I made clarifying my letter, you would see that the concept was a joke. No one ever expected anything to come of it. It was “half-serious” because my husband and I thought they might actually make a good couple. My two friends both seem like otherwise normal, healthy people. Had I any idea my “bff” would go batshit crazy I would have gone to any length to keep them apart. Poor judgment? Maybe. But I think it’s mostly just people losing their damn minds.

      Apparently the plan in case their visa is denied is she will move to his country. We’ll have to see whether that actually happens.

      1. caitie_didn't says:

        oh that makes me sad that she’s planning on moving to his country. I hope he’s not really as controlling and manipulative as he sounds in the letter (although I’m having a hard time picking up any of this dude’s redeeming qualities, here) because depending on the culture of the country, she could find herself in real trouble. Not to mention you know, not speaking the language, having a job etc.

      2. That doesn’t ring true. If you thought they would make a good couple, why are you now upset that they are a couple? How is it going batshit crazy for your bff to fall for a guy that you thought a good match for her. You start by saying you knew this guy wanted to marry for a visa and you suggested your friend, whom you knew to be younger, shy, very inexperienced, and vulnerable. Nothing could come of it, unless they married, since he’d be out of the country quickly. So why introduce her to a guy you knew was in ‘predator’ mode? You further said ‘half joking’ that this would be a good deal for her, because the guy would pay her enough that she could move out of her parents house and pay for schooling. So, why does this guy suddenly have no money?

      3. Visa to Disaster says:

        Obviously, you’ve never heard of long distance relationships. It would be one thing if they met and decided to enter a relationship, visit one another, take things slowly, etc. But they had to jump straight into “we’re getting married” effectively from day 1. That is my problem, aside from the general sketchiness around him.

        Frankly, I never thought of my friend as desperately lonely until after the fact. She had always seemed pretty confident with her relationship status. It’s only her actions in clinging to him that made me realize how sad she really was. Hindsight is 20/20, as they say.

        Also, as I said before the arranged marriage thing was a joke. “Hey, wanna get married for money? Haha just kidding.” Those were the exact words. I didn’t know it is illegal to make a bad joke. As another commenter said above, jokes like that are common because it is practically the only way to immigrate to another country unless you’re a doctor or something. Had they actually taken the arranged marriage thing seriously I would have sat them down and asked, “are you kidding me?” Frankly, I think it all comes down to my hubby and I trying to be matchmakers when neither of these people were in positions where they should be made matches! That was our fatal error, and I’ll accept responsibility for that. For me, the more I think about it, the biggest red flag is not that we made that bad joke, but that I know he really wants to immigrate to the United States and he has tried several times to no avail. I think he does care for my friend, and may even actually love her at this point, but I can’t shake from my mind the fact that he really, really wants to move here. I wouldn’t be able to trust a guy who might have ulterior motives like that, but apparently she can.

        The guy is very thoughtful, generous (really), and funny. He took her to Disney while he was here, so there are redeeming qualities about him that I didn’t mention because the red flags were more pressing to me at the time. I do sincerely hope it works out for them and part of me does think there is a shot. Like I said, my husband and I always thought they would get along. We have talked about maybe allowing them to live in a spare room in our house so they aren’t forced to deal with the stress of living with her parents, and since they are a fun couple we enjoy spending time with, but we’ll have to see what happens. The jury is still out on that; that could end up being a disaster. If they do go through with it, I’d like to try to support them as best I can.

        Anyway, the bottom line is that she is an adult, and she is free to make her own decisions and learn from them as needed. I’m not going to go out of my way to sabotage them, especially since that could potentially cause her to leave her entire support system and flee to another country. I haven’t even talked to my overseas friend to hear his side of things since he left, so it’s very easy for my mind to create this narrative in a state of panic. Yeah, he’s not perfect, but, other than Oldie, who is?

      4. Well said. Also, thanks for the added details. 🙂

      5. I do have to say that if you’re writing a letter to Wendy NOW, you may definitely be writing one to her if the couple moves in with you. Seems like bad news waiting to happen. I think you’d do best to just stay out of it. What if their relationship goes south? Or you find that it seems like your friend really DOES just want to marry her for a visa? How would you feel to have them both in your house. Extra drama that you can’t get away from.

      6. On the plus side, you could stream it all live and make some money off of it.

  33. Have you told her how he was out to get a visa by way of marriage yet? It sounds like you were sort of beating around the bush with asking if she thought he was taking advantage. Sometimes you just have to be direct and tell her, he came looking for a wife to stay in the US, and if you have any IMs or emails with him wording things that way, then you should send those to her. But be warned, she isn’t going to be happy with you for a looongg time

  34. Ok first off I don’t think the LW deserves that much blame. If the very first time you met someone, you knew he was looking to get a green card, then you had to willfully ignore that in order to begin a relationship with him. Plus, I don’t think making a joke like that is a big deal. I had a boyfriend from a Latin American country who would make jokes about how he was going to marry me for a green card. But we both knew it was a joke! And if the original suggestion was for them to both be aware that the marriage was a sham, and for her to get some money out of, that is not nearly so bad as what has happened with the girl getting totally duped.

    I would say that the LW should give it at least one more shot trying to talk about it with the girl, her parents, and the guy. It’s worth a try. Don’t in any way help the legal process, for your own protection, if nothing else.

    I kind of suspect, though, that even if his plans to get a visa fail, it is probably too late for your girl friend. She has already fallen for him, and she’s going to try to make it work even if they can’t get his green card. I think it’s unlikely she will be persuaded by anyone or anything.

    1. Their both being aware of the scam and her getting money out of it is only not as bad as her being duped, if you view committing a felony to be ok. To me, it makes all four of them appear to have very questionable characters. It is also not trivial for shy friend. What sort of relationship life is she going to have with guys who are actually interested in her, if she is already married to a sham husband, and with the worries about being arrested at any time?

      1. I didn’t say it was ok, I said one was worse than the other.

        In the original suggestion, the shy girl would not have been emotionally invested and everyone would have been on the same page that the marriage was fake. But no heartbreak, more of a trade. Shy girls gets some money, foreign guy gets his visa. And that’s only if she agrees to the situation. Breaking a law, yes, but no one is being victimized.

        Instead what happened, which the LW did not expect, is that the foreign guy has tricked the shy friend. She thinks she’s in love with him and goes along with the sham marriage because she has been manipulated into thinking it’s real. She’s going to screw up her life plans and end up heartbroken. The law is broken in both cases but in this case, the shy girl is being taken advantage of. Why is that not worse that the first case???

  35. sobriquet says:

    I agree with Wendy and most of the comments.

    The tragic part of all this is that if she doesn’t marry this guy, she will more than likely end up marrying some other deadbeat. Possibly an even worse guy (abusive, drug addict, etc). If the visa does work out (which is doubtful), at least you know that the foreign friend is a “stand up guy.” I’m not sure how… he seems pretty terrible… but I assume he is not physically abusive and will hopefully work hard to find a job. The visa will likely be for only 2 years. A lot can happen. Maybe she’ll come to her senses and end the marriage or maybe her dad will stop sponsoring him.

    And at this point, I’m not sure you can call your friend intelligent, thoughtful, or kind.

  36. Except….if she reports them, then the friend and the finance could be fined extensively and/or go to jail for marriage fraud. This isn’t just like a bad Sandra Bullock movie, it is an ACTUAL crime to falsify marriage for this very reason. And now, LW will have introduced the two under the pretense of faking a marriage, then ratted them out exposing them to serious legal consequences. That is not the ideal way to save the situation or make her feel better.

    My advice? Make sure the friend understands that falsifying a marriage is a serious crime. Apologize for downplaying the severity of the situation. Then letter writer…mind your own business and BUTT OUT before you cause any more trouble for this woman. That would be acting like a true friend.

    1. caitie_didn't says:

      Disagree. True friends tell you when you’re being an idiot, regardless of whether or not you’ll be mad at them for a while or even indefinitely.

  37. i dont know if anyone has said this yet… but what about sitting the friend down and breaking her heart by telling her that her “fiance” has directly told the LW that he intended to marry just for a visa? then tell her that she isn’t going to write a letter for them, she is actually going to write a letter to immigration telling them that. and then tell her parents the same thing. thats all you can do at this point, right? let the truth out.

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