Marrying for a green card? Don’t use Craigslist

How often does someone marry an American to get a green card? Well, about as often as George W.Greencard_2
Bush says, "Uh…" But most people go about it fairly discreetly. They profess their undying love to an unsuspecting American or, if they’re really desperate, wave hundred dollar notes in front of his/her face at a nightclub. What they don’t do is place an ad on Craigslist, as a Russian woman, Yuliya Mikhailovna Kalinina, did.

In late 2005 and early 2006, Kalinina allegedly posted
eight advertisements on Craigslist saying she wanted to marry a U.S.
citizen solely to obtain permanent resident status, according to
federal prosecutors.

offered her would-be husbands up to $15,000, prosecutors said. The ads
purportedly read: "Green Card Marriage — Will pay $300/month Total:
$15,000" and "This is strictly platonic business offer, sex not
involved. NOT required to live together." [Link]

Did she really need to advertise on Craigslist? Couldn’t she have just picked up a guy on a downtown street corner? It would have a lot of cheaper. Most guys hanging out on the street corner would marry you for as little as one beer a day. They might not even complain about the "sex not involved" part.

Of course, by advertising online, Kalinina attracted a more refined man. His name was Benjamin Claude Adams and he thought he had won his version of the green card lottery.

Adams responded to Kalinina’s advertisements in January 2006 and agreed to enter into the sham marriage, prosecutors said.

month later, the pair were married in a ceremony performed by
Kalinina’s live-in boyfriend, Dmitri Chavkerov, an Internet-ordained
minister, prosecutors said. Later, Kalinina allegedly leased a new Ford
Mustang for Adams. [Link]

Oh, I see what happened: She married him for a green card. He married her for a green car.

I also know what Dmitri was thinking when he agreed to perform the ceremony: "She marry him. She get green card. I marry her. I get green card."

Alas, the plan failed and poor Kalinina and Adams have been sentenced to prison terms of four months and two months respectively.

Kalinina, who faced up to
five years in federal prison, could be deported after she is released
because she is a convicted felon. [Link]

Don’t be surprised if she places another ad on Craigslist: "Green Card Marriage — Money not involved, just lots of sex. 300 times/month Total: 15,000."

Photo by Elke Sisco

If you enjoyed this piece, you'll love Melvin's novel Bala Takes the Plunge, available in North America through and You can also find it at major bookstores in India and Sri Lanka or online at FlipKart, IndiaPlaza, FriendsofBooks or other sites. A number of readers have written reviews of the novel. An excerpt of the novel can be read here.


  1. Peter Piper says:

    Actually what she did is so much more honest than the usual ‘scam’ where a foreigner dupes an American into marrying them, then waits the required two years and divorces as soon as she/he has the green card in hand.
    A more recent twist on this is that some people are abusing a provision of a newer law allowing them to bypass the time requirement by faking some type of abuse. Abuse victims get a fast track to a green card.
    These people are completely unscrupulous (exactly the kind of people we would hope to keep out of the the US), but they nearly always get their green card. One problem is that it often ends up wrecking the life of the US citizen spouse.
    See: (Stories section) for more info.

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