Marriage itself is not Enough for Legal Residency in the US: American-Canadian couple spends first Valentine’s Day Apart

Marriage for Legal Residency: What is involved?

Valentine’s Day just passed, and for some couples, it might be difficult to find the time to spend together. Sometimes it’s because of work, conflicting schedules or even a shared disdain for the holiday. However, one can’t think of any good reason for a pair of young newlyweds not being able to spend to holiday together – unless they work at the United States and Canada border.

Democrat and Chronicle told the story this week of a couple, Matt and Heather Lopresto. Mr. Lopresto is from the United States, and Mrs. Lopresto is from Hamilton, Ontario – a Canadian citizen. They met in school in 2005 and hit it off, marrying recently in Canada.

They were under the notion that once married, Mrs. Lopresto would be able to gain United States permanent residence (Green Card) easily and be able to live with her husband in the United States. All was well and good, with back and forth visits until the day before their wedding in Canada. Mr. Lopresto was turned away at the US border when he said “marriage” was his reason for visiting. He had to scramble quickly to prove he had a job in the United States, a decent income and a place to live as well as that he definitely planned to return home – all on the day before his wedding. More border issues arose when each attempted to cross into the US again, albeit separately. Matt was told at the border that he could be charged with smuggling an illegal alien if he lived with his wife at home in the United States, and again he had to prove their relationship as legitimate. Their passports are flagged, and they are questioned every time they cross over the border, together or not.

Reasonably, the governments of both countries would want to ensure the marriage is legitimate. However, the couple was unaware of the paperwork, fees and required procedures for Mrs. Lopresto to become a legal resident of the United States.

Situations like this are why something as simple as an international romance can become a tangled immigration legal matter. At our office we often enconter such mishaps and  unfortunatly, the saying “love is blind”  oftten applies to the immigraton context.

When a cross-border marriage takes place, it’s important to consult an immigration lawyer to avoid delays

Matt and Heather would have been well served to have consulted with an immigration lawyer, in order to avoid their frustrations at the US/Canada border. They would have been fully aware of what they needed to file a US Spousal Petition to have Mrs. Lopresto well on her way to becoming a legal resident of the United States.

Michael Niren

About Michael Niren

Michael is a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. He is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Canadian Bar Association’s Citizenship and Immigration Section and the Associate Member of the American Bar Association. Read more

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