Green Card for Turkey
BELGİN AKALTAN - firstname.lastname@example.org
In a Turkish ‘Green Card’, Ahmet from Antalya can play the role of Gerard Depardieu.The scene is in Antalya, the Mediterranean tourism hub of Turkey. Ahmet from Antalya’s “Üzümlü” village plays the piano very well and has a passionate affair with music. His rural background is no obstacle to his ambition for a career in impressionistic music. He is fat, has a big nose and long hair. His original village was burnt down by security forces in the 1980s, so his family had to migrate to Antalya’s “Erikli” – sorry, “Üzümlü” – well, some kind of fruity village.
Ahmet does not need a green card to stay in Turkey. He is a Turkish citizen and works as a waiter at a café downtown.
He is playing the role of Gérard Depardieu in the imaginary Turkish version of the romantic comedy “Green Card.” Now, who would play the beautiful, lovely and adorable Andie MacDowell? Shahla from Uzbekistan? Svetlana from Russia? Natalya from Moldova?
In the original movie, the screenplay features an American woman who enters a fake marriage with a Frenchman so he can obtain a green card and remain in the United States. The American woman also takes advantage of the fake marriage so she can rent an apartment in New York. At the end of the original film, the Frenchman is deported but the couple realizes they are madly in love with each other.
In the Turkish version of “Green Card,” it is a Turkish guy marrying a foreign woman so that the foreign woman can have a green card, residence permit, job, kitchen and five kids. It is always a Turkish guy marrying a foreign woman. It is seldom a Turkish girl marrying a foreign man. The Turkish DNA dictates only that.
At the end of the Turkish version of “Green Card,” Ahmet points a gun at his foreign wife, then at the top of the cliffs in Antalya – it is always the cliffs in Antalya – and is last heard saying, “You are my wife and you are my honor. You cannot travel abroad alone.” Which film was that? Like the end of the film “Gönül Yaras” (Lovelorn) (Google it!)? That’s how love affairs and/or fake marriages end in Turkey and that’s how films end in Turkey.
Why Antalya? Why “Green Card”? Why a marriage of convenience?
Because Antalya police recently formed investigative teams to track down foreigners who have entered marriages of convenience with Turkish citizens to obtain work and residence permits. Police said foreigners were frequently engaged in fake marriages to be able to stay long-term in Turkey, to be able to work in Turkey or to be able to prostitute in Turkey.
The teams visit the houses of foreigners married to Turkish citizens and prepare detailed reports on their conjugal relationships to uncover illegitimate marriages. There are four teams led by a chief officer (all of a sudden I imagine a team of Turkish police visiting my home to inspect my conjugal relationship; a shiver ran down my back.).
The Antalya police teams also inform foreigners of their rights and of Turkey’s laws and regulations regarding the status of foreigners.
What they are looking for is different from what we see in American movies or green card interviews. Nobody would ask Ahmet about what brand of deodorant or perfume or toothpaste his wife uses.
The teams also report on “the couples’ behavior toward each other.” Now, wait a minute, I again imagine – with a shiver down my back – how a police team could come to my home to report on me and my husband’s behavior toward each other? Oh, my God. Let’s skip this question.
Another inquiry the Antalya team will make is whether the couple has children. I wonder if the number of children is significant. Do one-child couples qualify?
Another inquiry is who lives with them? If it is the mother-in-law who lives with the couple, then the marriage is a true one. I am again imagining a team visiting my home. The report would go, “The husband is not here. He is working abroad. There are two British and Canadian citizens staying in the house. The only child the couple has lives somewhere else. Photos of a lost cat are everywhere. Too many books. This marriage is definitely false.”
This is again from a Doğan News Agency report by Ömer Erdem, “In the last three months, 20 fake marriages have been revealed and legal action has been taken against them. Their foreigners’ residence permits were canceled and they were given 15 days to leave Turkey.”
A colleague in the office right at this moment asked me for the phone numbers of these teams so that she could invite them to her home; deporting her husband in 15 days somehow seemed extremely tempting to her.