• Last updated on November 10, 2022

Green Card tells the story of an American woman and a French immigrant living in New York City who enter into a marriage of convenience for different reasons. Complications develop when Immigration and Naturalization Service agents seek evidence that their marriage has been undertaken solely to enable the immigrant husband to obtain his green card.

Green Card opens by introducing a young American woman named Brontë (MacDowell, AndieAndie MacDowell) who cannot obtain a lease on an upscale New York apartment unless she is married. At the same time, a French waiter named Georges Depardieu, Gérard(Gérard Depardieu) who needs a green card to work in the United States and become a citizen seeks an American wife so he can get that card. After a mutual friend brings Georges and Brontë together, the couple get married and then say goodbye to each other immediately after the ceremony.Green Card (film)Films;Green Card"Marriages of convenience"[Marriages of convenience];in films[films]Green Card (film)Films;Green Card"Marriages of convenience"[Marriages of convenience];in films[films][cat]FILM;GreenCard[02130][cat]FAMILY ISSUES;Green Card[02130][cat]CITIZENSHIP AND NATURALIZATION;Green Card[02130][cat]EUROPEAN IMMIGRANTS;Green Card[02130]Weir, Peter

The amicably estranged couple’s troubles begin when two Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) inspectors randomly, it is presumed, investigate them to determine whether they have satisfied the immigration laws concerning the green card and their lawful permanent residence. Audiences unaware of federal immigration regulations might see these government agents as intruders. However, the film makes it clear that the INS is obligated to investigate green card petitioners to deter fraudulent behavior.

As nearly a year passes by, both characters go through changes in their lives as they come together to learn more about each other’s habits and behaviors so they can make the INS inspectors think they have entered their marriage in good faith. Each of them must provide, as the law states, general and specific supporting evidence that Georges’s obtaining of his green card has not been fraudulent, and they must have a common residence. The rest of the film shows them trying to learn about each other. As they grow closer, they behave more deceitfully toward their friends and relatives. Georges knows, and the audience learns, that his ability to obtain permanent resident status can be lost if they are found out–and the law allows for his immediate removal from the United States and the possibility of his being permanently banned. Eventually, the government deports Georges. However, love wins out as the film ends, as Brontë prepares to go to France to join her husband, who is waiting for her.Green Card (film)Films;Green Card"Marriages of convenience"[Marriages of convenience];in films[films]

Further Reading
  • Bray, Ilona M. Fiancé and Marriage Visas: A Couple’s Guide to U.S. Immigration. 5th ed. Berkeley, Calif.: Nolo, 2008.
  • Gania, Edwin T. U.S. Immigration Step by Step. 3d ed. Naperville, Ill.: Sphinx; Sourcebooks, 2006.
  • Motomura, Hiroshi. Americans in Waiting: The Lost Story of Immigration and Citizenship in the United States. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.
  • Wernick, Allan. U.S. Immigration and Citizenship: Your Complete Guide. 4th ed. Cincinnati: Emmis Books, 2004.

Citizenship and Immigration Services, U.S.



French immigrants

Green cards

Immigration law



“Marriages of convenience”

Resident aliens

Yugoslav state immigrants

Categories: History