By Hannah Rand
In a bid to root out bogus couples, immigration officials have resorted to asking husband and wives where they keep the takeaway menus.
The bizarre question is part of a series of simple queries that can stump the canniest of green card applicants, officials revealed today as they shed light on the tricks of their trade.
Other questions include: how they celebrated New Year’s Eve, who wrote the rent cheque and how much it was for, and the closest subway stop to the marital address.
The questions are reminiscent of the 1990 film, Green Card.
Gérard Depardieu and Andie MacDowell play a couple, Georges Faure and Bronte Parrish, who marry for convenience so the Frenchman can work in the U.S.
They are eventually caught out because Georges cannot remember the brand of face cream Bronte uses, despite the elaborate planning, which includes the ultra-romantic reason composer Georges fell in love with his uptight New Yorker spouse.
Because I begin to hear music again,’ he imagines.
Of course, in the film, Georges and Bronte ultimately fall madly in love but, in real life, the interrogating officials at the Stokes Unit in New York City say it is still the most mundane questions that trip people up.
‘Life is stranger than fiction,’ officer Barbara Felska told the New York Daily News.
Ms Felska remembers the case of a couple who claimed to sleep together every night but, when interrogated, the man had no idea there was an oxygen tank next to his ‘wife’s’ bed.
Sometimes the mix-up in answers are innocent so the unit will bring couples together to discuss any discrepancies.
‘We bring them together … and say, “Your wife told me that last New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2011, right before midnight you were at home watching the Times Square celebration,”‘ said Ms Felska.
SIMPLE QUESTIONS THAT TRIP UP GREEN CARD FRAUDSTERS
- What restaurant do you and your husband usually order take-out from? Where do you keep the menus?
- How did you celebrate New Year’s Eve last year, sir?
- How much is your rent? Who writes the cheque?
- What’s the closest subway stop to your marital residence?
‘[And we say back to them] “however, sir, you told me that you were at a party, with your friends from college.”‘
‘And then the wife is like, “Honey, you’re talking about two years ago!”‘ explained Ms Felska.
A spokesman at the unit also told MailOnline that questions are tailored to the individual couples, unlike regular citizen tests which have a standard 100 questions.
The type of questions involved are also frequently updated to allow for changes in living circumstances and conventions.
For example, most modern working couples spend little time together during the week, so the focus may be on Sunday activities instead.
Green cards are the certificate of permanent residency for non-citizens in the U.S.
They get their name because they were green in colour from 1946 to 1964 (and have since reverted back to the colour since May 2010).
According to the Department of State, 79,876 spouses were awarded green cards in 2010 (most recent figures).
Of which, 34,690, were conditional – that is, they applied to marriages that were under two years and would be followed up by the department.
For those who are caught out, the newspaper reports that marriage fraud can result in a three-year jail sentence.
But every year thousands give it a go because, due to a statute of limitation, someone who duped the system is in the clear once they’ve been a citizen for ten years.
Source : dailymail