Presumptive immigration marriage fraud

When a permanent resident obtained a green card by marriage which later ends in divorce, an immigration petition for a new spouse cannot be approved if filed within 5 years of obtaining permanent residence unless the permanent resident can prove that the earlier marriage by which he obtained a green card was in good faith. But the standard of proof of the earlier marriage is raised beyond that required when the permanent resident was issued a green card by that marriage.

Presumptive immigration marriage fraud – from permanent resident by marriage to immigration petition for a new spouse in less than 5 years

When a permanent resident obtained a green card by marriage which later ends in divorce, an immigration petition for a new spouse cannot be approved if filed within 5 years of obtaining permanent residence unless the permanent resident can prove that the earlier marriage by which he obtained a green card was in good faith. But the standard of proof of the earlier marriage is raised beyond that required when the permanent resident was issued a green card by that marriage.

If the permanent resident by marriage files an immigration petition for a new spouse within 5 years of receiving permanent residence by law (The Marriage Fraud Amendments of 1986) the former marriage by which he obtained permanent resident is presumed to have been entered into for immigration purposes without the intent to live together as husband and wife.

In this type of special circumstances marriage fraud is presumed based upon the earlier marriage by which the permanent resident obtained a green card, not the current marriage. The presumption of fraud based on the earlier marriage arises even if there was no finding of marriage fraud and the permanent established that the earlier marriage was in good faith, passed the immigration marriage interview and the joint petition for removal of conditions upon resident (I-751) was approved by USCIS.

What is presumptive immigration marriage fraud?

The Bureau of Administrative Appeals defines immigration marriage fraud as a marriage which may comply with all the formal requirements of the law but which the parties entered into with no intent, or “good faith”, to live together and which is designed solely to get around the immigrations laws. There is no requirement that the person be convicted of fraud. Presumptive immigration marriage fraud is a presumption of law applied to all cases where a permanent resident by marriage petitions for a new spouse in less than 5 years after obtaining permanent residence.

Presumptive fraud is about the earlier marriage

But with presumptive fraud a spousal petition for a new spouse within 5 years of obtaining permanent residence by marriage is enough for the adjudicator to presume that the first marriage was a fraud. The presumption however can be successfully challenged. The USCIS will issue a Notice of Intent to Deny giving the petitioner the opportunity to send evidence to show by clear and convincing evidence that the earlier marriage was in good faith. The rebuttal evidence is directed towards the earlier marriage.

A petition for a new spouse within less than 5 years alone is not unequivocal evidence of a sham marriage. Therefore the petitioner can give evidence that adequately explain the rapid sequences of events. A denied petition does not affect the permanent resident’s ability to re-file the petition for the new spouse after the 5 year period.

Evidence used to rebut presumptive marriage fraud

The evidence used to challenge a finding of presumptive marriage fraud is evidence to prove the good faith of the earlier marriage by which the permanent resident gained his status (not the current marriage to the new spouse). Some examples of the type of evidence that can be used to challenge a finding of presumptive marriage fraud are:

1.            Affidavit from Petitioner

2.            Affidavit from former spouse and former in-laws – don’t burn your bridges

3.            Affidavit from friends – who he knew the couple, how often they saw each other

4.            Affidavit from professionals – e.g. life insurance salesman, doctors that interacted with the couple and observed them during the marriage

5.            Greeting cards from family (dated) – showing family is aware of the marriage

6.            Birth Certificate of children born to the marriage

7.            Photographs of the couple together with family and friends (identified and dated)

8.            Financial statements in both names

9.            Joint Tax returns

10.          Statements in both names

11.          Divorce decree – showing property settlement and other terms of divorce (reason for termination of the marriage)

12.          Evidence showing the length of time the earlier couple lived together

Conclusion

There are lots of factors involved in successfully rebutting presumptive immigration marriage fraud. A lot depends upon the facts of the particular earlier marriage. When entering an immigration marriage it is important to have proper legal advice every step of the way. Even if you former marriage and present marriage were in good faith, your petition for your new spouse could be denied if you cannot successfully rebut the presumption that the earlier marriage was a fraud and do so using the correct legal standard.

Presumptive marriage fraud does not prevent the filing of an immigration petition for a new spouse but it makes it more difficult by requiring the permanent resident to prove the good faith of a former marriage using a higher standard. Presumptive marriage fraud does not apply to naturalized United States citizens or to permanent residence by marriage that has held permanent resident status for over 5 years. It also does not apply to a permanent resident whose marriage end by death of the US citizen or permanent resident through which permanent resident status was received.

If you have any questions please speak to a qualified immigration attorney. Feel free to email me at info@immigrationlasvegas.com. I also urge you to subscribe to this blog or the RSS feed so you can see when new articles are posted.

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Renouncing citizenship to avoid taxes

With concern over higher tax rates in the United States relative to some low tax destinations such as Singapore and Belarus, and the rise of economic citizenship in many emerging countries around the world a record number of United States citizens have sought to renounce citizenship to avoid taxation. Many have even inquired about “relinquishment” without full “renunciation” to avoid paying U.S. taxes while still preserving U.S. citizenship and its benefits.

Renouncing U.S. citizenship to avoid US taxes*

With concern over higher tax rates in the United States relative to some low tax destinations such as Singapore and Belarus, and the rise of economic citizenship  in many emerging countries around the world a record number of United States citizens especially those who identify themselves as investors have sought to renounce citizenship to avoid taxation.  Many have even inquired about “relinquishment” without full “renunciation” to avoid paying U.S. taxes while still preserving U.S. citizenship and its benefits including the ability to confer immigration and citizenship benefits to others.

Loss of Citizenship

Section 349 (a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act set out the expatriation acts by which a national of the United States by birth or naturalization can lose United States nationality. Formal or official renunciation at a U.S. consulate [Section 349 (a) (5)] is one means of losing United States nationality but it not the only means. Some United States citizens with dual nationalities who hold political office abroad may lose United States nationality when they take an oath of allegiance to a foreign state, if the act of taking the oath was done with the intent of relinquishing United States nationality.

Renunciation can make a former citizen ineligible for a U.S. visa

The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA) added a new ground of inadmissibility for certain former citizens who renounce citizenship to avoid paying taxes. Section 212 (a) (10) (E) of the Immigration and Nationality Act states

“Any alien who is a former citizen of the United States who officially renounces United States citizenship and who is determined by the Attorney General to have renounced United States citizenship for the purpose of avoiding taxation by the United States is inadmissible.”

But the ground of inadmissibility in Section 212(a) (10) (E) applies only to renunciations of U.S. citizenship that took place on or after September 30, 1996. Furthermore the statute requires specific intent to avoid paying U.S. taxes. Specific intent requires that the former U.S. citizen subjectively desired loss of U.S. citizenship to avoid paying U.S. taxes. Therefore the reason for renouncing U.S. citizenship is important. Public statements about the reason for renouncing US citizenship may come back to bit. But the surrounding circumstances of the renunciation may still prove specific intent to avoid paying U.S. taxes even if the former U.S. citizen was silent on the issue.

The regulations effecting the statute state that “an alien who is a former citizen of the United States, who on or after September 30, 1996, has officially renounced United States citizenship and who has been determined by the Secretary of Homeland Security to have renounced citizenship to avoid United States taxation, is ineligible for a visa under INA 212(a) (10) (E).” 22 CFR 40.105. But the statute has been criticized both for the ambiguity of its language and as a possible violation of international law.

Role of U.S. consulate

The role of the State Department and the consular officer is very limited in implementing this ground of inadmissibility. The extent of coordination between the Internal Revenue Service and the immigration agencies is unclear. But unless the applicant appears as a hit in the consular lookout system revealing a finding of inadmissibility under INA 212(a) (10) (E), a consular officer is required to assume that the visa applicant is eligible. So persons who renounce to avoid U.S. taxes may slip under the radar.

Conclusion

Renouncing U.S. citizenship is a very serious decision and is not just a matter for high net worth individuals. Choosing to live abroad as over 6 million Americans do, is not the same as renunciation.As with many areas of immigration law the general rules seem simple but the details and exceptions to the rules are complex and confusing. So look before you walk on thin ice. Before renouncing citizenship consult with both an immigration attorney and a tax attorney to evaluate the specific circumstances of your case as each case is unique. Under current immigration law even if you are found inadmissible a discretionary waiver may be available for non-immigrant admission into the United States.

If you have any questions please speak to a qualified immigration attorney. Feel free to email me at info@immigrationnavigator.com. I also urge you to subscribe to this blog or the RSS feed so you can see when new articles are posted.

*CIRCULAR 230 NOTICE: IRS Regulations require us to inform you that any tax advice contained in this communication (including any attachments) was not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transactions or matter addressed herein.

Resources for additional information

1. Laura Saunders, Should you renounce Your U.S. citizenship W.S.J. , May 18, 2012

2. 77 Fed. Reg. 25538 – 25545 (April 30, 2012)

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Application of the Fourth Amendment to unreasonable searches in deportation cases

A search under the Fourth Amendment takes place any time there is an intrusion into an area where a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy. An example of a place where a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy is in a house or dwelling. This is consistent with the age-old English law maxim that every man’s house is his castle and fortress [Sir Edward Coke, Semayne’s Case (1605)]. Therefore the Fourth Amendment applies when the police or ICE agents enter a dwelling or intrudes upon anything on which a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy. The Fourth Amendment requires that the search be reasonable.

In the event that you or a family member get detained by ICE, or receive a Notice to Appear, you should know that deportation is not inevitable. You should also know that there are ways to challenge the evidence that ICE relies upon to seek your deportation. The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides one way to kick out evidence before it is admitted against you.

The Fourth Amendment

The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution prohibits unreasonable search and seizure of persons, houses, papers and effects by government agents. A government agent is any person acting in an official capacity for a Federal or state government such as an immigration officer or local law enforcement.

What is a Search under the Fourth Amendment?

A search under the Fourth Amendment takes place any time there is an intrusion into an area where a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy. An example of a place where a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy is in a house or dwelling. This is consistent with the age-old English law maxim that every man’s house is his castle and fortress [Sir Edward Coke, Semayne’s Case (1605)]. Therefore the Fourth Amendment applies when the police or ICE agents enter a dwelling or intrudes upon anything on which a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy. The Fourth Amendment requires that the search be reasonable.

What is a reasonable search?

To be a reasonable search the courts will require the government agents to have had a warrant supported by probable cause. Also to be reasonable a search with a warrant must not exceed the scope of the warrant and must be conducted reasonably. The police cannot use a warrant as permission to knock down the door of a dwelling without announcing themselves and giving the occupants, if any an opportunity to answer (The Knock and Announce Rule). Besides a warrant there are certain limited exceptions to a warrant. No warrant is required for a consent search. A search in the case of a house or dwelling may also be reasonable if government agents have the consent of an adult occupant (not a minor) of the dwelling. The consent of the landlord is not enough. The other limited exceptions to a warrant are known as exigent circumstances. These include a search indent to a lawful arrest, hot pursuit of a felon and good faith reliance on a defective warrant- United States v. Leon, 468 U.S. 897 (1984).

Border Searches

Section 287(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act gives immigration officers and employees the power to search, without a warrant, the person and personal effects of any person seeking admission to the United States if they have reasonable cause for suspecting that such a search would disclose grounds for exclusion from the United States.

The remedy for Fourth Amendment rights violation.

One of the principles for interpreting the United States Constitution is the maxim “For every right there is a remedy.” The remedy for the violation by government officers of a person’s right to be free from unreasonable intrusion into a place where a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy is the Exclusionary Rule. The Exclusionary rule is a judicially carved rule that is designed to deter future official violations of the Fourth Amendment. It provides legal grounds to object (by way of a motion to suppress) to evidence introduced against a respondent before the evidence if admitted by the judge. It also provides that evidence indirectly obtained as a result of a violation of the Fourth may be similarly suppressed under what is known as the fruits of the poisonous tree doctrine, if the link between the violation and the evidence is not too attenuated or remote.

Again the purpose is to deter official misconduct by suppressing the tainted evidence. Therefore if an unreasonable search leads to an arrest, the party arrested may move to exclude or suppress admissions made while in custody as the tainted fruits of an unlawful search. The exclusionary rule is most applicable in a criminal context.

Exclusionary rule in immigration cases – limited application

Evidence admitted in a deportation case must not only be probative of a fact to be decided but it its use must be fundamentally fair so as not to deprive the respondent of due process of law. Matter of Toro, 17 I. & N. Dec. 340 (B.I.A. 1980) ; Matter of Ramirez-Sanchez, 17 I&N Dec. 503, 505 (BIA 1980). .

The application of the Fourth Amendment to the non-criminal context such as deportation proceedings was severely limited (but not barred)  by the United States Supreme Court ruling in INS v. Lopez-Mendoza, 468 U.S. 1032 (U.S. 1984). The Court decided that the application of the exclusionary rule to civil deportation proceedings can be justified only if the rule is likely to add significant protection to Fourth Amendment rights. INS v. Lopez-Mendoza, 468 U.S. 1032, 1045 (U.S. 1984).

However in Matter of Toro, the Bureau of Immigration Appeals excluded evidence from a violation the Fourth Amendment where the misconduct of government agents was egregious.  Therefore flagrant violations of the Fourth Amendment may trigger the exclusionary rule in a deportation proceeding. The warrant-less entry into a respondent’s apartment without securing his voluntary consent, and based solely on the fact that he had a Nigerian sounding name, is one example of an egregious Fourth Amendment violation.  Orhorhaghe v. INS, 38 F.3d 488,497 (9th Cir. 1994).

Sometimes the manner of acquisition of evidence in a deportation case may be so egregious that use of the evidence would deprive a respondent of his constitutionally protected right to due process of law under the Fifth Amendment and render the deportation proceedings as fundamentally unfair. In such a case a timely motion to the court to suppress the evidence is warranted.

If you have any questions please speak to a qualified immigration attorney. Feel free to email me at info@goodinlaw.net. I also urge you to subscribe to this blog or the RSS feed so you can see when new articles are posted.

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Refiling a spousal immigration petition after a withdrawal

A petitioner who withdraws a petition with admissions of a fraudulent marriage (e.g. the marriage was a favor to a friend, and we only lived together to make it look real) and then re-files a petition for the same beneficiary has a heavy burden of proof to get approval of a visa petition for the beneficiary.

Fraudulent marriage for immigration purposes

The mere existence of a valid marriage certificate showing a lawful union between a United States citizen or permanent resident and a foreign national does not create a good faith marriage for immigration purposes. Whether a marriage is valid for immigration purposes (not a sham marriage) depends on the intent of the parties at the time of the marriage. But in determining whether a marriage is in good faith, the conduct of the parties after the marriage is relevant as to their intent at the time of marriage; evidence to prove intent may take many forms, including, but not limited to,

  1. proof that the beneficiary has been listed as the petitioner’s spouse on insurance policies,
  2. property leases,
  3. income tax forms,
  4. bank accounts; and
  5. testimony or other evidence of courtship, wedding ceremony, shared residence and experiences.

Matter of Laureano, 19 I&N Dec. 1 (BIA 1993).

If the evidence shows that the main intent at the time of the marriage was to get around the immigration rules by gaining immediate relative or preference status then this is marriage fraud for immigration purposes.

Withdrawal with admissions of fraud

The withdrawal of an immigration petition by itself does not show fraud. But when a marriage immigration petition is withdrawn based on an admission on the record (e.g. from an interview) that the marriage was entered into solely to get around the immigration laws (e.g. to help a friend get a green card) special rules apply to deter and punish fraud. Under Section 204(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act the beneficiary may be perpetually barred from immigration to the United States based upon marriage if he attempted to or conspired to enter the marriage for the primary purpose of circumventing the immigration laws.

So a petition involving the same beneficiary and a different spouse may not be approved. But the Bureau of Immigration Appeals has ruled that a new petition involving the same petitioner and beneficiary may be approved under certain conditions.  The petitioner and beneficiary must include:

  1. an explanation of the earlier withdrawal, and
  2. evidence that the relationship is in good faith and not for immigration purposes.

Matter of Laureano, 19 I&N Dec. 1 (BIA 1993).

Heavy burden when re-filing a withdrawn spousal petition

A petitioner who withdraws a petition with admissions of a fraudulent marriage (e.g. the marriage was a favor to a friend, and we only lived together to make it look real) and then re-files a petition for the same beneficiary has a heavy burden of proof to get approval of a visa petition for the beneficiary. Without an explanation letter and without evidence that show the existence of a bona fide relationship the petition is likely to be denied.

If you have any questions please speak to a qualified immigration attorney. Feel free to email me at info@goodinlaw.net. I also urge you to subscribe to this blog or the RSS feed so you can see when new articles are posted.

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The unlawful presence bar to re-admission into the US

Unlawful presence is often a problem for certain persons (e.g. those who entered without inspection or entered on a C1, C1/D or D visa) who are prevented by law from adjusting or changing status in the US but who the law requires to leave the US to apply for a visa at a US consulate.

Unlawful presence is a bar to re-admission after the person leaves the United States and seeks a visa or permission to renter the United States. It is especially a problem to the immediate relatives of US citizens who cannot adjust status but must leave the United States and seek an unlawful presence waiver abroad before they can be issued an immigrant visa. The wait times to get an unlawful presence waiver approved can take many months or more than 1 year during which time the foreign nationals must stay outside the United States and be separated from their immediate US family. Unlawful presence is not a problem for a B visa holder who marries a US citizen, does not leave the United States and seeks adjustment.

Unlawful presence

Unlawful presence is often a problem for certain persons (e.g. those who entered without inspection or entered on a C1, C1/D or D visa) who are prevented by law from adjusting or changing status in the US and who the law requires to leave the US to apply for a visa at a US consulate. It is also a problem for some persons who overstayed in the United States and later seek a visa to return to the United States.

Unlawful presence is a bar to re-admission after the person leaves the United States and seeks a visa or permission to renter the United States. It is especially a problem to the immediate relatives of US citizens who cannot adjust status but must leave the United States and seek an unlawful presence waiver abroad before they can be issued an immigrant visa. The wait times to get an unlawful presence waiver approved can take many months or more than 1 year during which time the foreign nationals must stay outside the United States and be separated from their immediate family in the United States. Unlawful presence is not a problem for a B visa holder who marries a US citizen, does not leave the United States and seeks adjustment.

What is unlawful presence?

Under the law a foreign national is unlawfully present if the person over-stays an authorized period of stay, or is present without being admitted or paroled. INA 212 (a) (9) (B) (ii).  Basically the person has no permission from the immigration authorities to be in the US or stay in the US whether it is that the end date on an I-94 has passed or the person has violated the terms of a visa such as a F-1 student who is no longer enrolled in school or a J-1 who is no longer taking part in an exchange program. In the case of a person in F-1 or J-1 status however he or she does not begin to accumulate unlawful presence until an immigration judge or immigration officer finds lawful presence.

The time for which a person is unlawfully present is legally important.

3-year and 10-year bars to readmission

Aliens who accumulate unlawful presence may be subject to a 3-year or 10 –year bar depending on the period of their unlawful presence.

180 days but less than 1 year

If an alien is unlawfully present for more than 180 days but less than one year and voluntarily departs before the start of removal proceedings such a person is barred from readmission into the United States for 3 years. Note that the bar is triggered after a voluntary departure even if the alien is granted advance parole.

More than 1 year

If the alien is unlawfully present for a year or more, then departs or is removed (deported), he or she is barred from re-admission for 10 years.

For the purpose of the 3-year or 10 year bar unlawful presence is not counted in total meaning, a person who over-stays for 3 months, leaves, re-enter and over-stays again for 4 months for a total time of more than 180 days is not subject to the 3-year bar. But if the same person over-stayed by 7 months on the second occasion, he or she would be subject to the 3-year bar.

Statutory exemptions

The law exempts certain period from counting towards unlawful presence.  The time during which a person is a child under the age of 18, or a bona fide application asylum is pending (unless the applicant works without authorization), under INA Section 301 family unity protection or a battered spouse or child who can prove a real connection between unlawful presence and abuse is exempt and no unlawful presence accumulates while these conditions apply.

Tolling (or suspension of) unlawful presence for good cause

The law tolls or suspends unlawful presence for no more than 120 days under certain conditions. Unlawful presence is tolled or suspended for a person who is lawfully admitted or parole into the United States, and who files a proper application for an extension of stay or change of status, and who was not employed before the application or while the application is pending.

Persons who file a proper application for adjustment of status are not subject to the 120 limitation on tolling but have the unlawful presence suspended while their application is pending.

Conclusion

The unlawful presence bar is just one more reason why foreign nationals should periodically consult an immigration attorney for advice. The cost of not knowing is very expensive. A person who is subject to the unlawful presence bar may seek a discretionary waiver. Waivers and the notice of intent to change the waiver regulations for aliens with qualifying United States citizen relatives will be the subject of another post.

If you have any questions please speak to a qualified immigration attorney. Feel free to email me at info@goodinlaw.net. I also urge you to subscribe to this blog or the RSS feed so you can see when new articles are posted.

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The big mistake of lying to immigration to get a visa or green card

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.

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

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.

Penalty

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).

Immigration Fraud and Misrepresentation

Misrepresentation defined

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

  1. Made a misrepresentation
  2. The misrepresentation must have been willful
  3. 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
  4. 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 info@goodinlaw.net. I also urge you to subscribe to this blog or the RSS feed so you can see when new articles are posted.

 

 

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Bona Fide Marriage Documents

There are several ways to prove a bona fide marriage for US immigration purposes. In addition to a marriage certificate, the following documents are examples of what an immigrant spouse can offer as proof of a bona fide marriage. As each couple is unique the following is not a substitute for legal advice based on a couple’s individual circumstances.

A legal marriage or a marriage on paper alone is not sufficient basis to obtain a green card through marriage. There are several ways to prove a bona fide marriage for US immigration purposes. In addition to a marriage certificate, the following documents are examples of what a petitioner or an immigrant spouse can offer as proof of a bona fide marriage. As each couple is unique the following is not a substitute for legal advice based on a couple’s individual circumstances (prior petitions, pregnancy, age difference, prior removal orders, date of wedding, manner and date of entry into the United States etc).

Documentary proof of a bona fide marriage may include but is not limited to the following:

  1.  Wedding pictures – showing the couple together and with family and friends. Wedding invitations may also be used.
  2.  Invitation and pictures for the wedding shower, if any.
  3.  Pictures of the couple together and with family and friends (holidays, vacation, in hospital etc.). Chose picture that show proper body language between the couple and from family and friends.
  4.  Birth certificate of each child born to the marriage. A child is strong, irrefutable evidence of a shared live. Pictures of the couple with their children (births, birthdays, baptism, or other traditional celebrations )
  5.  Personal statement or self statement of bona fide marriage, in which the petitioner describe, in great detail, how they met, why they got married, who proposed marriage, and the feelings that they had or still have towards each other and why.
  6.  Bona fide marriage affidavits (statements signed before a notary public) from at least two people with personal knowledge of the marriage and who can give details of the relationship between the immigrant spouse and the U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident petitioner.
  7.  Letters received from spouse while dating, apart, or during any other stage of the relationship.
  8.  Letters, cards and invitations to the couple from family and friends
  9.  A rental agreement for house or apartment with the names of the couple on it, or a letter from the building manager or owner proving that the couple occupies the premises.
  10.  Tax returns that show taxes filed jointly.
  11.  Papers with the names of both immigrant and spouse that show joint ownership of a car, a house, furniture, or something else together.
  12.  Insurance papers (health, auto, life and property) – that are either joint insurance papers or that show coverage of each other by insurance plan.
  13.  Joint Utility Bills for a marital home, such as cable TV, internet, electricity, water, gas, cell phone, or others that show both names on it.
  14.  For women, a government issued identification card that shows the use of your spouse’s last name could be persuasive but is not required.
  15.  Joint bank statements – as with having a child, having shared bank accounts is strong, evidence of a bona fide marriage because it indicates trust between the couple.
  16.  Any other documents that show trust, a shared life and shared burden of living.

If you have any questions please consult with a local immigration attorney. You may also email me at via the contact form on this website. Please subscribe to this blog or the RSS feed so you can see when new articles are posted.

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The naturalization interview (N-400 interview)

After you have filed form N-400 with supporting documentary evidence and the USCIS has received notice from the Federal Bureau of Investigations that a full criminal background check is complete, the USCIS will send you an appointment notice for your naturalization interview or citizenship interview.

The law requires the USCIS interviewing officer to use information provided in the naturalization interview, the documents submitted by you and your A-file to decide whether to grant your application for naturalization. Therefore the naturalization interview is a vital part of becoming a United States citizen by naturalization.

Naturalization Interview

After you have filed form N-400 with supporting documentary evidence and the USCIS has received notice from the Federal Bureau of Investigations that a full criminal background check is complete, the USCIS will send you an appointment notice for your naturalization interview or citizenship interview.

The law requires the  USCIS interviewing officer to use information provided in the naturalization interview, the documents submitted by you and your A-file to decide whether to grant your application for naturalization. Therefore the naturalization interview is a vital part of the naturalization process.

If you fail to appear for a naturalization interview the USCIS will consider that you have abandoned the naturalization application unless you give written notice of the reason for the non-appearance within 30 days after the scheduled date. You must ask that the interview be rescheduled in the written notice.

You have the right to an attorney and an interpreter

You have a right to an attorney (signed form G-28) and to select an interpreter. You may select an interpreter even though you must prove during the naturalization interview that you are literate in English. Your interpreter should be fluent in English and the foreign language that you speak. He or she should bring a government issued ID to verify identity. The examiner may disqualify the interpreter to make sure that the examination is proper, in which case the USCIS officer may reschedule the interview.

Statements made under oath.

A USCIS officer conducts the interview. The statements you make are under oath or affirmation. If you do not understand a question, it is important that you should ask the officer to repeat or restate the question.

Your interview may be video-taped or recorded as part of the record of examination. During the examination the officer will ask you questions about your responses to questions on form N-400. Therefore keeping a copy of the N-400 and documentary evidence for review before attending the naturalization interview is highly recommended.

The officer will ask you to confirm and correct if necessary information contained in the application form (e.g. you legal name, your current marital status, travel outside the United States). You may present further documentary evidence to clarify and support any matter on the application. If the application is deficient, you may ask for a continuance to allow you to present further evidence to prove statutory eligibility for naturalization. When the officer has completed reviewing N-400, the officer will ask you to sign Parts 13 and 14 of the Form N-400, Application for Naturalization.

The officer will then administer the United States citizenship test – the English reading test, the English writing test and the civics test (your knowledge of the history and government of the United States).  The US civics test is oral.

The decision

The officer may recommend your application for approval or denial or schedule a re-examination. The officer may tell you that he or she has granted your application at the interview. The officer may be unclear about a matter or may delay a decision to seek supervisory approval.

If the officer recommends your application for approval and it is approved you will receive a notice of the oath ceremony stating the time and place to take oath of allegiance and receive a certificate of naturalization as a United States citizen.

Denial and rehearing

If the officer denies the application the USCIS must serve you with notice in writing stating the reasons for the denial within 120 days after the interview. The denial notice will state that you have the right to make a written request for a re-hearing of your application. The rehearing will be before a different officer than the one who conducuted your original examination. The reviewing officer has the discretion to review the record of examination created from your original exam but he or she is not required by law to do so. In the interest of justice the reviewing officer may consider your case anew (a full de novo review) and allow new evidence including the testimony of witnesses.

Conclusion

Just as though no two applicants for naturalization are the same, no two naturalization interview experiences are the same. The naturalization interview questions you will be asked may vary with the facts of your case. Below is a helpful USCIS video that you may find helpful.

If you have any questions please speak to a qualified immigration attorney. Feel free to email me at info@goodinlaw.net. I also urge you to subscribe to this blog or the RSS feed so you can see when new articles are posted.

 

 

Test

 

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Removing conditions on permanent residence when the U.S. petitioner dies

For those who receive a green card through a marriage that is less than two years old on the date the green card is received, Section 216 (d) (2) of the Immigration and Nationality Act provides that a conditional permanent resident must file a joint petition to remove conditions on residence I-751 within 90-day period before the second anniversary of receipt of conditional resident status – count back 90 days from the second anniversary of the Permanent Resident Card. Waiting until the last few days to send the I-751 petition with supporting evidence is a bad idea. It should get to the USCIS before the conditional green card expires. It is always a good idea to have proof of delivery.

One of the most common questions asked by those who get a green card by a marriage that is less than two years old is, “how and when do I remove the conditions on my green card?” Sometimes the U.S. spouse may be unwilling to file a joint petition and there may be issues of domestic abuse. In a few cases however the U.S. spouse may have died after the beneficiary spouse obtained conditional permanent residence but before the two year anniversary of obtaining conditional permanent residence[1]

For those who receive a green card through a marriage that is less than two years old on the date the green card is received, Section 216 (d) (2) of the Immigration and Nationality Act provides that a conditional permanent resident must file a joint petition to remove conditions on residence I-751 within 90-day period before the second anniversary of receipt of conditional resident status – count back 90 days from the second anniversary of the Permanent Resident Card. Waiting until the last few days to send the I-751 petition with supporting evidence is a bad idea. It should get to the USCIS before the conditional green card expires. It is always a good idea to have proof of delivery.

A son or daughter of the foreign spouse who achieves conditional residence within 90 days of the principal beneficiary (the foreign spouse) may be included on the same I-751 form even though such a combined petition attracts a separate biometric fee for each son or daughter regardless of age. Otherwise the son or daughter must file a separate petition.

The permanent resident status of a conditional permanent resident who fails to file the I-751 on time, will end, unless the person can show good cause that excuses a late filing. Such a person will also begin to accumulate unlawful presence which can lead to 3 or 10 year bars from the United States, if they leave.

Section 216 (c)(1) further has two requirements for removal of the condition – a jointly filed petition and an in person I-751 interview. The service can waive an I-751 interview if it is satisfied of the bona fides of the marriage based on the petition and supporting evidence. But the USCIS sometimes conducts random interviews of joint petitioners or waiver requesters.The service is more likely to waive a joint interview if the case is well-documented but may still need an interview if verification of the information through its fraud unit turns up derogatory information.

For a person who cannot file jointly because of reasons other than death of the petitioning spouse (e.g. I-751 divorce), Section 216 (c) (4) of the immigration and Nationality Act provide for hardship waivers of the joint filing and interview requirements under certain conditions. For such hardship waivers the CPR must submit a letter with the I-751 petition.

But when the petitioning spouse dies during the 2-year conditional period the law does not require a joint petition and interview and no separate I-751 waiver is required other than that requested on form I-751. Therefore the conditional resident petitioner should select (c) in Part 2 of the I-751 form and provide documentary evidence of the death as supporting evidence. The death of the petitioning spouse does not, however relieve the I-751 petitioner from the burden to prove that the marriage which ended in death was in good faith and was not entered into solely for evading the immigration laws.

A conditional permanent resident under section 216(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, who is seeking to remove the conditional basis of that status and who has timely filed the petition and appeared for the interview required under section 216(c)(1), does not need a separate section 216(c)(4) hardship waiver if the petitioning spouse died during the 2-year conditional period.

Approval

If satisfied that the marriage was not for the purpose of evading the immigration laws, USCIS may approve the petition without an interview. If the USCIS approves the petition it will remove the condition on permanent residence as of the second anniversary of receipt of conditional permanent resident status and issue a new Permanent Resident card through the mail.

RFEs, or requests for more evidence

Where the initial filing is deficient the USCIS may issue a request for more information or evidence or RFE. Failure to respond would lead to a denial due to abandonment.

If the RFE is not properly responded to the USCIS may schedule an interview. If the conditional resident alien fails to appear for an interview about the petition the alien’s permanent residence status will be automatically terminated as of the second anniversary of the date on which the alien obtained permanent residence[2].

Denial

If USCIS intends to deny the petition it will provide a Notice of Intent to Deny stating any reasons for so intending. The petitioner may then send rebuttal evidence which USCIS must consider. If the petition is ultimately denied the alien’s permanent resident status will end as of the date of the written denial.

Review of denial

A person whose i-751 petition was denied can

1. request the USCIS to certify the case to the Administrative Appeals Unit[3]

2. file a motion to reopen the case based on new facts, or a motion to reconsider the case citing valid reasons[4], or

3. seek review of the decision in removal proceedings. In such proceedings ICE must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the petition was properly terminated [5]. But the petitioner bears the burden of proving eligibility for the petition or waiver of the joint filing requirement. He or she must be prepared to submit evidence of a good faith marriage and the death of the U.S. spouse.

[1] This situation is different from a case where a foreign national obtained permanent residence based on being the widow(er) of a US citizen. In such a case, the widow(er) spouse should not file I-751.

[2] 8 C.F.R. 216.4

[3] 8 C.F.R. 103.4 (a) 4,5

[4] 8 C.F.R. 103.5

[5] 8 C.F.R. 216.3, 1216.3

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Green card for brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens

The visa category for siblings of adult U.S. citizens (the fourth preference category) has a notoriously long backlog. Currently it takes at least 11 years before a visa number becomes available for the sibling of a U.S. citizen. Petitions for fourth preference category for Mexico have a jaw dropping 20 year backlog!

Very often a U.S. citizen or a green card holder may ask about how to get a green card for a brother or sister (a sibling). At other times a foreign national may ask ‘I have a green card brother living in the United States, can he sponsor me?’ Oftentimes they may not realize that even though they consider a person a brother or sister by custom or even by law in their home country, such a person may not qualify as a sibling for immigration purposes. The following article is about evidential requirements to prove the sibling relationship to USCIS when filing Form I-130.

Who may file for a brother or sister?      

Only a U.S. citizen who is 21 years of age or older has standing to file an immigration petition for a brother or sister for classification as a family preference immigrant under section 203(a) (4) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. A green card holder must first make a successful application for naturalization (using Form N-400) and be over 21 to file a petition for a sibling.

Who is a sibling for immigration purposes?

The U.S. citizen petitioner must prove that he or she and the beneficiary (the claimed sibling);
1. Are children of a common parent, or
2. Once were children of a common parent.

The common parent relationship must be within the meaning of INA Section 101(b) (1) & (2). The parent-child relationship (and hence the sibling relationship) under this section can be created in multiple ways. A child born to a married woman is as assumed in law to be the child of the mother and the husband even if the husband is not the biological father. A parent can also be created by legitimation, adoption or by a step relationship.

Even though two persons are children of a common parent or once were children of a common parent his alone does not mean they are siblings for immigration purposes.
Proof of the sibling relationship in the case of step-siblings where the step-parent child relationship dissolves upon divorce must involve proving the relationship between the parent and the petitioner as well as that between the beneficiary and parent before the beneficiary reached 18 years.

Some examples where the sibling relationship does not qualify

  1. A person who is or was over 18 years at the time of the marriage of a parent does not have a step-relationship with the spouse of his parent for immigration purposes. For immigration purposes, this person does not have a sibling relationship with the children of the spouse of his parent.
  2. An illegitimate child of a father who did not develop a parent-child relationship with the common father before age 21 is not a sibling for immigration purposes.
  3. An adopted child may not petition for his or her natural sibling, because their common natural parent no longer has the status of parent of the adopted child for immigration purposes.
  4. Additionally an adopted child who was adopted after age 16 does not create a sibling relationship for immigration purposes.


Evidence for an immigration petition for a brother or sister

In addition to evidence of United States citizenship (and age) the US citizen petitioner must give evidence of the claimed sibling relationship. The primary evidence to support the sibling relationship will depend on how the relationship arose with the common parent. For a list of primary evidence please see the sibling relationship chart below.

Sibling relationship chart for immigration purposes

If either sibling had a name change as a result of marriage a copy of a marriage certificate and divorce decree will also be needed to prove the sibling relationship.

Conclusion

The visa group for siblings of adult U.S. citizens (the fourth preference category) has a notoriously long backlog. Currently it takes at least 11 years before a visa number becomes available for the sibling of a U.S. citizen. Petitions for fourth preference category for Mexico have a jaw dropping 20 year backlog!

It may be more expedient for petitioners to start a series of immediate relative petitions or an immediate relative petition followed by a second category petition (F2A) to bring their siblings to the United States. For example, an adult U.S. citizen may petition for a mother as an immediate relative and the mother may then petition for the sibling of the U.S. citizen.

If you want to bring a sister or brother to the United States or need help with any family based green cards please give my immigration law firm a call at 888-747-1108 to get your family members to the United States in the shortest time.

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