Green card debacles like the one presented in “The Proposal” are common in movies and TV. Executive Margaret Tate (Sandra Bullock) is in a jam when she is threatened by the INS with deportation to Canada. The demanding boss forces her willing assistant Andrew Paxton (Ryan Reynolds) to marry her in order to keep her visa status legal.
We take a look at other deportation moments, pointing out the life lessons learned as often creative solutions may or may not turn out as intended. (Kerry Hayes / Associated Press)
Gerard Depardieu (remember when he was a sex symbol?) and Andie McDowell (remember when she was relevant?) marry so he can stay in the country and she can get a great apartment. When the INS pokes its collective nose in, the odd couple (she’s a neat freak and he’s a slob... and French) realize they really do love each other.
Lesson learned: Know your partner. Spend a few minutes exchanging facts, and the INS might not be able to successfully discredit your sham marriage.
Meg Ryan, in pursuit of a wayward fiance, chooses Kevin Kline to be her French pretend boyfriend. He’s actually a jewel thief, and uses her to smuggle a stolen diamond necklace. Along the way, the two fall in love.
Lesson learned: Need a cover story? Find an American. Our bluster and righteous indignation can wear down foreign authorities, covering your crime.
When Antonio (Tony Shalhoub, pre-detective) faces being sent back to Italy, Helen (Crystal Bernard) steps in to marry him. It works... except that the marriage contract stipulates she must wait a few years before getting a divorce.
Lesson learned: Read the fine print. A quickie sham marriage sounds appealing, but be sure you can get out of the deal when the INS is off your back.
Jack (Sean Hayes) agrees to wed Karen’s (Megan Mullally) sharp-tongued maid Rosario (Shelley Morrison) so she can stay in the country and in Karen’s service. The couple then occasionally act like theyre really married.
Lesson learned: Even in marriages of convenience, affairs can be a killer.
Latka Gravas (Andy Kaufman, left), our favorite garage mechanic, needs a woman. Some suggest a call girl, but he needs the woman to marry him to stay int he country. Eh, same diff. Vivian is called, and the Rev. Jim Ignatowski presides over the ceremony in the taxi garage. The marriage didn’t last, and Latka ended up with Simka (Carol Kane).
Lesson learned: Sometimes the relationship doesn’t last, but call girls are usually there for you.
In season two, we learn that Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) married her friend Duncan ( Steve Zahn), a gay Canadian ice dancer who needed a green card. He then seeks her out to get a divorce -- and informs her that he’s actually straight and was just in denial about it.
Lesson learned: Green-card marriages are so easy and worry-free that you don’t even have to tell your friends about them.
A young Polish woman is jilted by the English doctor who had promised to marry her, so what’s a girl in need of a green card to do? She proposes to one of the doctor’s patients, who happens to need the money to pay off a mob debt.
Lesson learned: When considering all candidates for international matrimony, remember: Crooks are citizens too!
A Chinese American landlord has a gay partner, but decides to please his parents by marrying his female tenant Wei-Wei, who needs a green card. When the ‘rents hit America for the wedding festivities, however, the ruse reaches new heights.
Lesson learned: Seducing and subsequently getting pregnant by your in-name-only spouse is one way to secure the marriage and also please the grandchild-hungry older generation.
Susan Mayer ( Teri Hatcher) would have gotten hitched to husband No. 3 had her nuptials to Canadian Jackson Braddock (Gale Harold) worked out. Jackson’s student visa was set to expire, but Susan was ready to marry him to help him stay in the country. Unfortunately, immigration officials took him into custody before they could say “I do.”
Lesson learned: Even with the best intentions, some things are not meant to be.
Jesse Werner’s ( Christina Applegate) on and off again relationship with neighbor Diego (Bruno Campos) never quite gets a happy ending even after two deportation scares for Diego and two failed marriage proposals. Diego ends up wedding someone else at the end of season two after Jesse realizes he was the guy for her.
Lesson learned: Deportation or no deportation, don’t take good things for granted.
Waynes (Mike Myers, left) relationship with Cassandra Wong (Tia Carrere) goes down the tubes when the aspiring rocker takes off with her producer Bobby Kahn (Christopher Walken). Little does Wayne know that despite trying to prove himself to Cassandras dad (via Kung Fu movie spoof moves), Mr. Wong is secretly plotting to marry off his daughter to Kahn to gain green card status.
Lessons learned: Children and their love lives make great pawns when trying to trick INS.
Laurie Foreman (Christina Moore) comes to Fezs (Wilmer Valderrama) rescue in season five after hes arrested and faced with deportation. The two enjoy a one night stand at the lake and then take off for a quickie wedding. Despite giving Red a heart attack and Laurie going on their honeymoon with someone else, the two survive an INS visit and Fez gets his green card.
Lesson learned: Sometimes your best friends promiscuous sister is the best route. She gets to be rebellious and you get your green card.
Luis, the buildings superintendent, has been threatened by the INS with deportation. Pam needs cash to pay the IRS. A solution presents itself. Martin (Martin Lawrence) and Gina (Tisha Campbell) pictured.
Lesson learned: Never marry for money, especially only $5,000. Always ask for at least $500 more.
David (Brian Austin Green) puts out a personal ad on his radio show and ends up meeting a new girl named Claudia (Christina Fredlund). Unfortunately their romance is cut short when she announces shes moving back to Venezuela because of an expired visa. David proposes, but she decides to leave anyway.
Lessons learned: Looking for a potential green card match? Check the personals.