November 5, 2006

Atty. Emmanuel S. Tipon

10 badges of a sham marriage

“Sham” means fake, hoax, counterfeit purporting to be genuine. (Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, Vol. III, p. 2086). As they say in Ilocano: Sinsinan/

Immigration and consular authorities hate sham marriages. They will remove (deport) aliens or deny visas to aliens who are involved in sham marriages. You report to them that you know of a sham marriage and they will investigate it right away if you provide names, addresses, and telephone numbers of the parties involved. If the alien is already in the U.S., you must make your report to both the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (U.S. I.C.E.). If the alien is still in the Philippines and has not been given a visa, you must make the report to the U.S. Consulate in Manila.

Here are the 10 Badges of a Sham Marriage:

1. No consummation. If you do not know what “consummation” is, here is an incident that happened in San Francisco.

A couple was seeking adjustment of status for the husband to become a lawful permanent resident.

The officer asked the man: “Was your marriage consummated?”

The man, a GI (Genuine Ilocano) turned to their lawyer asking: “Ana’t cayat na nga saoen ti ‘consummated’ “? (What does she mean by consummated?)

“Nagyala kayo kano?” (Did you have sexual relations with your wife) the lawyer, also a GI, whispered to him.

“Oh yes,” he beamed, “we consummate our marriage every night.”

“Sir, you can consummate your marriage only once,” said the officer.

“I don’t know about you ma’am, but in our case we consummate it every night.”

The lawyer nudged the man and told him to cut it out.

The officer, a husky, stern-looking woman, and most likely a spinster, was unsmiling.

She approved the petition. Months later, the wife called the lawyer and complained that her husband was no longer consummating their marriage and threatened to report him to immigration. The lawyer advised her to make herself desirable.

The lawyer called the husband and told him what the wife was planning to do. The husband complained: Casano met manong ket toppo toppol met (How can it be, elder brother, she has plenty of missing teeth).

The lawyer retorted: “Ana’t connection ta toppol na ken pinagsex. Ikidem mo lattan.” (What is the connection of missing teeth and sexual relations? Just close your eyes).

“Consummate” means “to complete (marital union) by the first act of sexual intercourse after marriage.” (Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, Vol. I, p. 490).

You can climb to the top of the Aloha Tower and shout in your shrill and liberal voice that sexual relations is not necessary for a marriage to be genuine and that marriage can be for companionship alone. How can you be a good companion if you are confrontational and have a shrill and liberal voice?

2. No cohabitation or very brief cohabitation.

3. No courtship before marriage. No dates. No love letters, etc.

4. No romantic relationship before marriage.

5. No pictures together. No documents in joint names, such as tax returns, bank accounts, rental agreements, car registration, letters addressed to couple as “Mr. and Mrs.”, etc.

6. No communications after marriage ceremony.

7. No holding out to relatives and friends that parties are married.

8. No familiarity with personal circumstances and intimate details about spouse, nor with names and personal circumstances of immediate relatives of spouse, nor about the home where the spouses claim to have lived together.

9. No common interests and absence of compatibility in age, education, social status, character traits, culture, etc.

10. No agreement or intention to establish a life together and assume the obligations of a husband and wife.

(Atty. Tipon is from Laoag City. He holds a Master of Laws degree from Yale Law School and a Bachelor of Laws degree from U.P. He practices law and writes law books. Office: 905 Umi St., Suite 201, Honolulu, HI 96819. Tel. (808) 847-1601. E-mail: Website: This article is for general information only and is not intended as legal advice.)

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Copyright 2006 Ilocos Times. All rights reserved.

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