Does age matter in love and in immigration?

by Emmanuel S. Tipon, Esq.

“Age does not matter, When you love each other.” – May Ann M, a 25-year-old virgin who married an 85-year-old Ilocano.“Age is just a number. It’s totally irrelevant unless, of course, you happen to be a bottle of wine.” – Joan Collins.

“Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” – Mark Twain

The biggest age difference of a married couple was 63 years. Gertrude Grubb Janeway, who was born on July 3, 1909, was 18 when she married 81-year-old Union Civil War veteran, John Janeway on June 9, 1927, according to the Guinness World Records.

Among celebrity couples with big age differences are Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones (25 years) and George Clooney and Amal Clooney (17 years).

There is a 90-year-old Ilocano lawyer and a 19-year-old virgin of unparalleled beauty and insightful intelligence who could beat that record if he pops the question and the virgin says “yes.” That would be 71 years difference.

Will he pop the question?

As a lawyer, you should not ask a question of the opposite party unless you know the answer and the answer will be in your favor. The lawyer believes in love at first sight but as a good lawyer, he also believes in taking a second look ex abundante cautela.

The virgin belongs to generation Z (born between 1996 and 2010). Having been born during the internet age, they are very knowledgeable. They have many wants – to be close to home and family, to have fun and have funds, to be well-educated, and to work in good jobs. They are skeptical and seek people they can trust. They believe in equality.

The lawyer who belongs to the mislabeled “Silent Generation” (born between 1925-1945) is articulate and could cater to the reasonable expectations of a generation Z woman.

An 85-year-old man from Ilocos Norte who lived in California courted, won the affection, and married his 25-year-old townmate, an attractive virgin. There was a 60-year difference. He was a U.S. citizen and petitioned for her. USCIS approved the petition.

During the consular interview, the girl was asked why he married her husband despite the age difference. She replied: “Age does not matter when you love each other.” It was a perfect answer. There is rhythm. “Where did you learn that?” I asked the girl. “It came from my heart,” she replied. So, it is possible that there can be love between an 85-year-old man and a 25-year-old woman.

The woman is a millennial or Generation Y (born between 1981 and 1996). This generation is less inclined to have sexual intercourse compared to their predecessors when they were the same age if you believe Wikipedia.

However, the woman admitted that she and her husband had sexual relations on at least 5 occasions during their few months of marriage when questioned during an immigration court hearing. For skeptics who do not believe that men over 60 can have sexual relations, they probably are looking at a mirror.

She was placed in removal proceedings because her Form I-751 Petition to remove conditions on residence, which was prepared by a travel agent, was denied. Aliens whose marriage is less than 2 years before admission to the U.S. are conditional residents and must file a petition to remove the condition within the 90-day period before the second anniversary of the marriage.

USCIS said that she did not provide sufficient evidence to establish that her marriage to her spouse was in good faith. The Immigration Judge ordered her removed because of a lack of credibility with regard to her Form I-751. The case is on appeal.

A 90-year-old Ilocano, a U.S. citizen, married a 50-year-old Filipina tourist. USCIS approved her application for adjustment of status despite the 40-year age gap. They filed a joint petition to remove the conditions on her residence. The husband died before the rescheduled date of the interview. Immigration officers placed her in removal proceedings because her conditional resident status was terminated based on her failure to demonstrate that she entered her marriage in good faith. We established the bona fides of the marriage.

Immigration authorities added a new charge that she had lied on her visa application by writing the name of her deceased spouse in reply to the question “Spouse full name.” We argued that whether a tourist visa applicant is married or single is immaterial to the qualification for such a visa. The case was dismissed. We saved another Filipina from deportation.

Inappropriate to question age gap
Consular and immigration authorities have no right to ask why a female visa applicant married a man who is significantly older than she is. This question is inappropriate because it is an invasion of privacy. It could be considered age discrimination.

The question is irrelevant and immaterial because there is no law prescribing the age of the parties for obtaining immigration benefits. Officers ask it anyway because nobody stops them. I would object if I were the lawyer of the girl.

Immigrants should not be afraid of these intrusive and biased officers. Such officers will have a serious problem if a complaint is filed against them for harassment, invasion of privacy, discourtesy to women, age discrimination, etc.

Immigration officers have a stereotype of what constitutes a bona fide marriage – same ethnicity, same cultural and educational background, the man is a few years older than the woman, there is courtship, a marriage ceremony, honeymoon, cohabitation for a significant amount of time, and commingling of assets.

Test of bona fide marriage
The test of a bona fide marriage is whether the bride and groom intended “to establish a life together at the time they were married. The concept of establishing life as marital partners contains no federal dictate about the kind of life that the partners may choose to lead.

Any attempt to regulate their lifestyles in the guise of specifying the requirements of a bona fide marriage would raise serious constitutional questions. Aliens cannot be required to have more conventional or more successful marriages than citizens.” Bark v. INS, 511 F.2d 1200 (9th Cir. 1975).

Therefore, since any attempt to regulate the age difference of an alien who marries a U.S. citizen would raise serious constitutional questions, and since a 63-year-age difference between an 18-year-old American woman and a Civil War veteran is considered conventional and valid, then a 60-year or 71-year difference between an alien woman and a male U.S. citizen should likewise be considered conventional and valid.

Why young women marry much older men
A number of young women want to marry older men for security and stability. They believe that older men are usually established, have money, and can sufficiently provide for them, that older men are generally more trustworthy, protective, loving, caring and less likely to hurt them, that older men are less prone to having extra-marital affairs, and according to a beautiful mestiza who was involved with a man 20 years her senior – older men have more experience in everything including love-making.

was a Fulbright and Smith-Mundt scholar to Yale Law School where he obtained a Master of Laws degree specializing in Constitutional Law. He graduated with a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of the Philippines. He is admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court, New York, and the Philippines. He practices federal law, with emphasis on immigration law and appellate federal criminal defense. He was the Dean and a Professor of Law of the College of Law, Northwestern University, Philippines. He has written law books and legal articles for the world’s most prestigious legal publisher and writes columns for newspapers. He wrote the best-seller “Winning by Knowing Your Election Laws.” Listen to The Tipon Report which he co-hosts with his son Attorney Emmanuel “Noel” Tipon.  They talk about immigration law, criminal law, court-martial defense, and current events. It is considered the most witty, interesting, and useful radio show in Hawaii. KNDI 1270 AM band every Thursday at 8:00 a.m.  Atty. Tipon was born in Laoag City, Philippines. Cell Phone (808) 225-2645.  E-Mail:  Website

The information provided in this article is not legal advice. Publication of this information is not intended to create, and receipt by you does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.

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