Fires and Visas: More in Common than You Think (Or the Importance of the DS-160 Visa Application)

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It is fire season here in California, and inevitably talk turns to what could have been done to prevent the latest big fire, that the fire could have been prevented if only…. The lessons learned are so applicable to visas that I even have a painting of firemen and a firetruck in my office.  Clients come to me with a “five-alarm fire,” and often my first thought is what could have been done to prevent the fire.  Sometimes, the problem is as simple as correctly and properly filling in the DS-160 visa application form or even having a copy of the visa application form. In many of these consultations, inevitably the topic turns to what was indicated in the visa application form.  I ask for a copy of the DS-160 visa application form and the client does not have one. The client attempts to reconstruct the application or tries to…

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How WhatsApp Messages Can Lead to Cancelled Visas, Expedited Removal, and Permanent Bans

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Just because you have arrived at an airport in the United States does not mean that you are protected by the US Constitution and the right to be free from unreasonable searches. This is the unfortunate lesson learned by hundreds of travelers each day to the US.  Worse, the messages on one’s own phone can lead to a cancelled visa, a return trip home, and a permanent ban on entry. As international travel has reemerged after the pandemic, so have the problems experienced by international visitors to the US. Just over the past few months we have conducted numerous consultations with individuals subject to intrusive CBP searches at the airports, including luggage checks and the contents of telephones.  These searches have led to accusations of unlawful employment (most common), prostitution, drug use, intent to remain in the US beyond the length of permitted stay, intent to marry, and intent to…

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I-601 Waivers and Challenges to 212(a)(2)(A)(i)(I) Decisions

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Heartbreaking are the immigrant visa cases when, because of a youthful indiscretion or transgression, the applicant is denied the visa to join a spouse or parent or child in the United States under Section 212(a)(2)(A)(i)(I) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.  This section of the law renders a person permanently inadmissible because of a conviction or admitting to committing a crime of moral turpitude. Thankfully, there are solutions. One solution is to challenge the decision.  In a case we recently handled, the applicant had been denied an immigrant visa as the husband of a Lottery winner on these grounds, and then 10 years later, denied again as the parent of a US citizen on these same grounds.  But the criminal case which was the basis for this visa refusal decision had been terminated before a final decision was made by the judge because of an amnesty. We challenged the 212(a)(2)(A)(i)(I)…

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