Lying to Immigration
Under Section 212 (a)(6)(C)(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act , a foreign national is inadmissible to the United States if he or she willfully or fraudulently misrepresents a material fact to a consular officer or DHS official (e.g. in answer to an immigration interview question) in attempting to, or in obtaining a visa, or documentation, admission into the United States or other benefit under the Immigration and Nationality Act.
Visa or Immigration Fraud
A foreign national makes a fraudulent statement when he makes a false representation of a material fact with knowledge that the statement is false and with the “intent to deceive” a consular or immigration officer. Fraud also requires that the immigration or consular officer believed the misrepresentation and acted upon it. See Matter of G, 7 I & N 161, 1956.
Material misrepresentation on the other hand merely requires a willful misrepresentation. A statement is material if the U.S. official might have found the foreign national inadmissible if the official knew the truth. Unlike fraud, misrepresentation does not need a finding of “intent to deceive” the U.S. official or that the official believed or acted upon the misrepresentation. See Matter of S and B-C, 9 I & N 436, 448-449 (A.G. 1961) and Matter of Kai Hing Hui, 15 I & N 288 (1975). Therefore a person may be found to be inadmissible under INA 212 (a)(6)(C) (i) even though his conduct does not rise to a finding of fraud.
A finding of either fraud or misrepresentation makes an alien inadmissible under INA 212 (a)(6)(C) (i). Most cases involving inadmissibility under this ground involve misrepresentation and not fraud because fraud is often more difficult to prove. The penalty for fraud or material misrepresentation is lifetime ban from the United States unless the foreign national can get a hardship waiver. Additionally a foreign national who makes fraudulent statements or use fraudulent documents (e.g. using a passport and visa issued to a family member) to get admission into the United States may be subject to criminal prosecution and imprisonment. The foreign national may also be subject to a civil document fraud order by an administrative law judge for making or using false documents, or using documents issued to other persons. A foreign national using fraud or misrepresentation to enter or seek unlawful entry into the United States may be fined or imprisoned or fined and imprisoned under 8 U.S.C. 1325(a).
A misrepresentation is a statement or assertion which does not match the facts. A misrepresentation can be oral, in written application or in submitting evidence which has false information (e.g. presenting false immigration documents to border patrol to gain admission into the United States). Misrepresentation requires some affirmative action on the part of the foreign national. Silence or a failure to volunteer information does not necessarily constitute a misrepresentation.
A misrepresentation may also be found where a foreign national conduct is inconsistent with representation made at the time of a visa application or admission (e.g. a person admitted in B2 status who applies for adjustment of status within 3 weeks of admission as a tourist)
For an alien to be inadmissible under the Immigration and Nationality Act on the grounds of misrepresentation he must have
- Made a misrepresentation
- The misrepresentation must have been willful
- The fact misrepresented must have been material – the foreign national might have been found inadmissible if the truth facts were known to the U.S. official, and
- The alien used fraud or misrepresentation in attempting to, or in obtaining a visa, or documentation, admission into the United States or other benefit under the Immigration and Nationality Act.
Misrepresentation by an attorney or other agent – The “It was not me” defense
If foreign national can be charged with a misrepresentation even if an attorney or (e.g. a notario) made the misrepresentation in a visa or immigration application., provided that the foreign national was aware of the action. Oral statements made on behalf of the applicant similarly do not shield him or her from misrepresentation, if he or she was aware of the misrepresentation.
Timely retraction and hardship waivers
A timely retraction of a fraudulent or willful misrepresentation is a defense to this ground of inadmissibility if the retraction is voluntary and without delay.
A narrow waiver may also be available from the Attorney General under INA 212 (i) to an immigrant who is the spouse, son or daughter of United States Citizens or a lawful permanent resident, if the applicant can prove that the refusal of admission to the United States would result in extreme hardship to the spouse or parent.
In the case of a VAWA self-petitioner charged with inadmissibility under INA 212 (a)(6)(C), the waiver provision has broader. The self-petitioner must present evidence to prove that refusal of admission to the United States would cause extreme hardship to him or her personally, or the his or her United States citizen or lawful permanent resident parent or child. One of the most important thing to know about hardship waivers is that they are discretionary and are not obtainable as a matter of right.
If you have any questions please speak to a qualified immigration attorney. Feel free to email me at email@example.com. I also urge you to subscribe to this blog or the RSS feed so you can see when new articles are posted.