USCIS Policy Manual on Fraud / Misrepresentation03 Apr 2014
Portions of two more volumes of the new online policy manual of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) have recently been released. The additions deal with fraud and willful misrepresentation grounds of inadmissibility, and the availability of corresponding waivers.
Purpose of Online USCIS Policy Manual
In January 2013, the USCIS announced plans to move to an online, centralized manual of immigration policies. The purpose was to make it easier for stakeholders, such as immigration attorneys and those applying for immigration benefits, to understand how the USCIS makes decisions in immigration cases. More information about efforts to overhaul the content and presentation of the USCIS Policy Manual are available in the MurthyDotCom NewsBrief, USCIS Releases its First Ever Comprehensive Online Policy Manual (22.Jan.2013).
Policy Manual is a Work-in-Progress
The first content to be released in the new, online manual was volume 12, which covers policies and procedures on U.S. citizenship and naturalization. This was followed last year by the partially released volume 7, which deals with adjustment-of-status adjudications. This most recent update includes portions of volume 8, which covers admissibility, and volume 9, which addresses waivers. As mentioned above, however, these most recent additions only deal with admissibility and waivers as they relate to instances of fraud and misrepresentation.
Inadmissibility for Fraud / Misrepresentation and Waivers
The USCIS is responsible for guarding the integrity of the U.S. immigration process. One important aspect of this role is the detection of fraudulent documents and willful misrepresentation/s made by individuals seeking immigration benefits. Fraud and misrepresentations in this context can lead to serious repercussions. An individual who is found by the government to have committed such an act would generally become permanently inadmissible to the United States, which means that s/he would be banned from entering the U.S. and, if in the country, ineligible to be approved for adjustment of status. Such a person may be eligible to apply for a nonimmigrant and/or immigrant waiver, but these tend to be long processes with no guarantee of success. More information on nonimmigrant waivers is available in the MurthyDotCom NewsBrief, Murthy Success Story: Obtaining a Nonimmigrant Waiver after Status Violation (29.Jul.2011), while an overview of immigrant visa waiver process can be found in USCIS: Ombudsman Makes Recommendations on I-601 Waivers (02.Mar.2012).
Inadmissibility Findings Can Be Successfully Challenged
The USCIS recognizes that a finding of fraud or misrepresentation can lead to lifelong consequences. In fact, the newly released content for the policy manual notes:
“When making the inadmissibility determination, the officer should keep in mind the severe nature of the penalty for fraud or willful misrepresentation. The person will be barred from admission for the rest of his or her life unless the person qualifies for and is granted a waiver. The officer should examine all facts and circumstances when evaluating inadmissibility for fraud or willful misrepresentation.”
Naturally, foreign nationals should not attempt to deceive immigration officials. But, it is important to note that there have been instances in which people applying for immigration benefits have been truthful, yet improperly found to have committed an act of fraud or to have made a material misrepresentation. Depending upon the circumstances, it may be possible to successfully challenge such a finding (as opposed to filing a waiver, which essentially acknowledges the misconduct, but requests forgiveness). However, reversing a finding of fraud or misrepresentation tends to be extremely challenging, and almost certainly requires the assistance of an experienced attorney. Foreign nationals who require assistance with a fraud finding or in applying for a waiver are welcome to schedule a consultation with a Murthy Law Firm attorney.
Different volumes of the USCIS policy manual continue to be released online, allowing for greater transparency and uniformity in adjudications. Immigration attorneys and applicants for U.S. immigration benefits alike may find that the immigration process has been simplified, without the need to sift through years of sometimes-conflicting USCIS memoranda. The Murthy Law Firm applauds the progress the USCIS is making toward the release of this easily accessible and consolidated policy manual.
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