AZTech, Integra Technologies, Andwill, and Wireclass Update V: Disconcerting Dysfunction – 4 Government Agencies Each Going Own Way Provide Lack of Closure to Victims
After the ICE press conference in October, it appeared that the US Government was winding down its investigation of AZTech, Integra, Andwill and Wireclass. It appeared that those associated with The Four companies would be getting resolution one way or another. That conclusion, it turns out, was premature.
As you know, there are four US government agencies primarily involved in the administration and enforcement of US immigration laws. They are Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Customs and Border Protection (CBP), US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and the Department of State through its local embassies and consulates. ICE are the immigration police; it also is responsible for the administration of the SEVIS and OPT programs. CBP includes the airport and port-of-entry inspectors who verify the admissibility of individuals to the United States. USCIS adjudicates immigration benefits, including H-1B petitions, I-765 employment authorization applications, changes/extensions of status, and green card applications. DOS, through its consular officers abroad, adjudicates visa applications.
While one would think these agencies would be on the same page when it comes to monitoring compliance and adjudicating benefits, different priorities, policies, and interpretations can lead to differing results. Sometimes, what would appear to be a disparate result can be explained away. For example, an ICE officer is more likely to be interested in representations made in the SEVP portal than a visa application.
The differing results can work in one’s favor – and against. The USCIS approval of your H-1B petition, even after an OPT-related Request for Evidence, can allow you to breathe a great sigh of relief. But this does not guarantee that the next time you apply for a visa or try to enter the US that the different agency/different result will not rear its ugly head. Certainly in such an instance one can point to the USCIS approval as proof that the US government has already adjudicated the issue – and did so positively. There are certainly legal arguments to make in such an instance – that the government should be foreclosed from raising the issue again when one agency has already reviewed it.
The problem is that the government usually does not consider itself bound by such previous determinations. Just because a consular officer issued a visa does not mean that CBP will let you into the US. This is also true if the determination was made by the same agency. More and more we are seeing USCIS saying that it is not bound by previous USCIS approvals of a petition, or consular officers going back years to discover an alleged misrepresentation made in a previous visa application, notwithstanding visas issued in the interim. These trends are very unsettling; closure, certainty, and predictability become elusive. Individuals are afraid to leave the US as a result for fear that they may not be able to return.
With those who were associated with AZTech, Integra Technologies, Andwill, and Wireclass, we see that CBP in particular is taking an aggressive approach. The fact that money has changed hands means, in the eyes of CBP, you have “bought a fraudulent job offer.” These are not the views of a “rogue officer” within CBP or at one particular airport, but apparently affirmed by CBP management in Washington. The consequences have ranged from a 5 year bar under the expedited removal provision of immigration laws to a permanent bar for committing willful, material misrepresentation.
While the common thread may be an association with one or more of these companies, each case is different. What documents were submitted? How long was the association? What is the procedural posture of your case now? One thing is clear – for anyone with long-term plans in the US, it makes sense to be proactive, to understand and minimize your potential vulnerabilities and objectively assess your risks. Feel free to contact us to discuss your situation.