Episode 8: I Said Good Day! – Student Visas and the Marriage Based Green Card Sponsorship Process with Fez from That ’70s Show

In this episode, Shai and Roderick hang out with the gang from the television comedy, That ’70s Show. They focus on Point Place, Wisconsin’s favorite foreign exchange student, Fez, played by Wilmer Valderama. In addition to exploring Fez’s obsession with candy, the immigration principles they will cover include: F-1 Student Visas, the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program, and the Marriage Based Green Card sponsorship process. Plus, Shai and Roderick reminisce about their favorite high school jobs.

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Show Notes

Welcome to this episode of Hasta La Visa, Baby – a podcast that takes a deep dive into US immigration law and its relation to fictitious characters in television and film!  Host Shai Dayan is an immigration attorney with Gibney Anthony & Flaherty, and he is based in Los Angeles, CA.  He is joined for this episode – as for all other episodes! – by his New York-based friend and colleague, Gibney Anthony & Flaherty immigration attorney Roderick Potts.  Together, Shai and Roderick demystify immigration law by focusing each episode on a particular work featuring a foreign national living in the US.  They discuss the show or movie, zeroing in on this character to speculate on his/her visa status and possible problems associated with living in the US, and to summarize a hypothetical law consultation with the character.  The only rule: each episode assumes the character lives in a modern-day US!

For this episode, Shai and Roderick focus on the comedy from the late 90’s and early 2000’s: That ’70s Show. After summarizing the premise of the show and running through a few fun facts about it, they shift their attention to the character known as Fes, who is a foreign exchange student whose country of origin is never revealed. His name, Fes, stands for “foreign exchange student”, and eventually marries his friend Eric’s sister so he may apply for a green card. His visa status is addressed on the show multiple times and his accent is exaggerated so audiences can’t determine his own country.

The first visa Fes qualifies for is the F-1 student visa, which allows a foreign national to enter the U.S. to study at an approved institution. These students can’t stay permanently in the U.S. The J-1 exchange visitor program is another visa Fes would have qualified for. This allows high school students to travel to the U.S. to study at an accredited public or private high school and live with either an accredited host family or boarding school. Based on the fact that we know Fes lives with a host family, he almost definitely has a J-1 visa.

Once a couple is legally married, the citizen spouse files an immigrant petition on behalf of the non-citizen spouse, who meanwhile can file a green card application. The couple must prove a marriage is legitimate, financial stability reports and that the non-citizen spouse entered the U.S. legally. Immigration officers commonly feel that the co-mingling of finances is a telling sign of a good faith marriage. It appears on the show that Fes and Laurie were only married so that Fes could get a green card.

Based on this, Shai and Roderick would have no grounds to represent him and would urge him to file for a green card. Then, they run through the severe consequences Fes would receive. The episode wraps up with a few final takeaways from the show on everything from how the characters have so much leisure time and how the confusing love triangle of every character.


Learn more about the F-1 student visa.
Learn more about the show featured in this episode: That 70’s Show.
Learn more about Shai Dayan, Roderick Potts, and Gibney Anthony & Flaherty, LLP.
Connect with us at hastalavisa@gibney.com.
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