5 Years? 10? 20? How Far Back Will a Consular Officer Look for a Misrepresentation or Alien Smuggling?

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People thought that with the passing of the Trump Administration, Department of State visa policies would become more tempered and that enforcement would moderate from the Trump-era extremes.  People, unfortunately, could not have been more wrong. Statutes of limitations exist for good reason: due process, basic fairness, evidence that becomes stale over the years, the disappearance or death of witnesses, fading memories, and to prevent inconsistent decisions.  But as discussed in a previous blog, there is no statute of limitations in visa law. And so consular officers are free to go back and review previous visa applications and time spent in the United States to determine whether a misrepresentation (Section 212(a)(6)(C)(i))  had been made at the time of the visa application or at the time of entry to the United States, or whether the individual had engaged in alien smuggling (Section 212(a)(6)(E)).  Critically, this holds true whether a consular officer…

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AZTech, Integra Technologies, AndWill, and Wireclass Update VI: Operation Bad Apple.

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We have been able to review some of the government documents relating to the DHS investigation of these companies. Needless to say, the documents are eye-opening.  The government investigation into the OPT scandal is entitled Operation Bad Apple. But unfortunately, DHS considers not only the people behind AZTech, Integra, Wireclass and AndWill as the “bad apples,” but the F-1 students who were associated with them as well. Lest there be any doubt, the DHS documentation makes clear: these OPT sponsors were “shell companies”. These companies produced “fraudulent employment letters for F-1 students on OPT, STEM OPT, and CPT.” They used “virtual offices” and are not “legitimately operating businesses.”  In retrospect, we all know that. But the broad brush which DHS paints the students – as knowing participants in fraud – is alarming. There does not appear to be any gray area. Per DHS, the students did not work for these…

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AZTech, Integra Technologies, Andwill, and Wireclass Update V: Disconcerting Dysfunction – 4 Government Agencies Each Going Own Way Provide Lack of Closure to Victims

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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….

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AZTech, Integra Technologies, Andwill, and Wireclass Update IV – Clarity on the Way?

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Yesterday, ICE announced the arrests of 15 OPT students for claiming “to be employed by companies that don’t exist.”  At its press conference, ICE announced that as a part of its Operation OPTical Illusion, it identified up to 3,300 individuals of interest, and of those individuals, it will seek to deport 1,100.  Of the 1,100, USCIS is in the process of revoking the employment authorizations of 700, with the remainder expected to have the validity periods lapse in the next couple of months.  These employment authorizations were characterized as being “fraudulently” obtained and seem to have been connected with one company. Obviously, this is not good news for the 1,100.  While it is still too early to draw conclusions, it is possible that ICE not only intends to remove these individuals from the United States, but permanently bar them from the United States for engaging in “fraudulent” activity. Apparently, ICE considers…

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The Role of Culture in Visa Denials.

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I recently wrote a blog regarding the OPT scandal advising the victims that “surrender is not an option”, that they needed to be proactive in seeking to resolve the potential drastic consequences.  That thought came to mind again when a gentleman contacted me a few weeks ago about his wife’s visa problem.  She had been denied an immigrant visa and permanently barred from the United States under Section 212(a)(6)(C)(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The stakes for him could not be much higher: his wife may never be able to join him in the US unless an immigrant waiver would be approved.  Yet in talking to him and reviewing the case documents, it was not clear why she had been accused of making a willful, material misrepresentation.    I told him that the consular officer should be contacted and asked to provide a clarification about why this draconian decision had…

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AZTech, Integra Technologies, Andwill, and Wireclass Update III

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We continue to receive a surge of questions from those who have been adversely impacted by the situation surrounding AZTech, Integra, Andwill, Wireclass, and other questionable OPT-related companies. Interestingly, we have also been contacted by those who have not felt any adverse consequences yet nor are aware of any impact, but potentially may have some exposure because of their OPT past.  What should they do?  Reaching out to a lawyer is a good start. Without stating the obvious, these individuals may already have been impacted; they just don’t know it yet.  In the eyes of the government, their mere association with a suspect OPT organization opens the door for adverse action: visa revocation; denial of a future USCIS H-1B or green card petition; refusal of an employment authorization or change of status or adjustment of status application; the opening of removal proceedings in the US; expedited removal and/or the imposition…

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The Fat Lady, Stowaways, and Alien Smugglers

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“It ain’t over till the fat lady sings…”  The opera expression widely used in sports has taken on a whole new relevance in the immigration world.  No longer are government agencies approving applications and deferring to previously-approved applications or adjudications. Rather, they are reopening past applications – from 3, 5, 10, 15, 20 years ago – searching for misrepresentations, inconsistencies, and loose ends to thwart applications for visas, changes to status, and adjustment of status. You are so close to getting that long-desired visa or green card, but the “fat lady” – in these cases, USCIS and the State Department consular posts – doesn’t want the “opera” to end. The boundaries are unlimited. Even relatively obscure provisions of immigration law, such as the “stowaway” provision, are being invoked more and more.  A stowaway is someone who obtains transportation without consent and through concealment.  Anyone who enters the US by a…

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Surrender is Not an Option. AZTech, Integra Technologies, Andwill, and Wireclass Update II

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Thank you for all of your questions related to AZTech, Integra, Andwill, and Wireclass. The dramatic upsurge in questions corresponds to the mass issuance of Requests for Evidence (RFE) and Notices of Intent to Deny (NOID) by USCIS to I-765 STEM extension applicants and H-1B petitioners. The texts of the NOIDs and RFEs are relatively standard. For example, one of the RFEs states: Provide your complete employment history (including start and end dates) and proof of employment for your initial grant of Optional Practical Training (OPT). Evidence of employment may include but is not limited to: Letters for employer(s) establishing jot title(s), duties, location, pay rate, and number of hours worked per week. Copies of your earning statements/pay stubs. Copies of your W-2s. If you worked for an employment agency or consultancy, you must provide      evidence of the jobs you worked on and dates worked. Additionally, if you…

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AZTech, Integra Technologies, Wireclass and Andwill Update

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Thank you for your phone calls. After speaking with so many of you, it has become obvious that those who were associated with AZTech, Integra Technologies, Wireclass and Andwill did so with legitimate intentions and the goal of full compliance with the OPT requirements.  While the common thread binding most of you is a visa revocation, there are several categories of individuals who have been impacted, including: 1)      those in the US who are beneficiaries of a pending H-1B petition and USCIS has issued a Request for Evidence (“RFE”) or Notice of Intent to Deny (“NOID”) related to their prior OPT experience and/or visa revocation; 2)      those in the US who are applying for STEM OPT extensions and USCIS has issued a RFE or NOID related to their prior OPT experience and/or visa revocation; 3)      those who attempted to enter the US with a visa and Customs and Border Protection…

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Visa Revocations and OPT

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The consequences of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) investigation of the US companies Findream, Sinocontech, AzTech, Integra Technologies, Wireclass, and Aandwill are now becoming evident. Thousands of students and young professionals, primarily Chinese and Indian, have had their visas revoked because of their past association with these companies.  Worse, it appears that the US Government has presumed that these individuals were aware of the fraudulent nature of the offers of training to comply with the Optional Practical Training program requirements and is entering decisions to permanently bar them from the United States under Section 212(a)(6)(C)(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (“6C”). For many of these individuals, it does not have to be this way. A US government official can only make this determination based on an individualized review. Everyone’s circumstances were different. What was his or her specific intent at the time of accepting the training offer? Was…

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212(a)(7)(A)(i)(I) – What To Do If You Are Turned Around at the Airport and Sent Home

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Today we are publishing an article on the site about Section 212(a)(7)(A)(i)(I) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. This is the decision of a Customs and Border Protection official at airports and other ports of entry not to allow an individual into the United States because he/she does not have the proper visa.  For visa holders, the CBP inspector revokes the visa with the inscription “22 CFR 41.122(e)(3)”. While CBP does not provide a breakdown on the number of times it actually invokes this Section, it is clear that this number has escalated substantially under the Trump Administration.  In 2017, the number of inadmissibility findings by CBP totaled 216,470.  In 2019, that number increased to 288,523, a 33% jump.  This number only relates to those who tried to enter the US legally – as a Visa Waiver Program participant or visa holder.  When invoking 212(a)(7)(A)(i)(I), CBP sends these individuals back…

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16 Reasons a Consul Finds Your K-1 Case Suspicious

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Today we are publishing a new article about K-1 visas.  In the article we discuss the 16 primary reasons a consul finds a K-1 case suspicious. The article also highlights the 4 steps the American citizen and fiancée can take to prevent denials. Finally, the article discusses in detail how to deal with a 221(g) refusal, an accusation of a sham relationship, and what to do if the petition is sent back to USCIS. The most important takeaway from the article: just because there is a real, sincere relationship does not mean that the K-1 visa will be issued. A lack of evidence, a weak interview, or a skeptical consul who believes he knows the fiancee’s “true intentions” better than the US petitioner can sabotage a K-1 case.  Contact us to discuss your case.

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40 Reasons for F-1 Student Visa Denials

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Today we are publishing a new article on this site about student visas.  In the article, we catalog 40 reasons why an F-1 visa can be denied. Straightforward 214(b) rejections, complicated 212(a)(6)(C)(i) permanent bans, and protracted 221(g) delays are some of the most common problems arising from an F-1 application. What would appear to be a straightforward, simple visa process can turn into a veritable minefield for the unsuspecting.  And while some of the denial reasons may be beyond the control of the applicant, what is obvious is that some students are unprepared for the visa application process – with many receiving avoidable refusals.  Contact us to discuss your situation.

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Visa Myth #975 – “But They Gave Me 6 Months to Stay in the US!”

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At least a couple of times a month I get a similar, frantic phone call. “I just applied for a new visa, but it was denied. The consul didn’t like the fact that I spent 5 months in the US on my last trip.  I told him that the airport inspector allowed me to stay for 6 months. I didn’t do anything wrong!”  Or “My visa has been revoked. But I didn’t do anything wrong.  When I arrived in the US, they gave me 6 months to stay, so I did. I didn’t violate any laws, so why are they revoking my visa?!?” The revocation is done by either the consul or the airport inspector the next time the visa holder arrives in the US. There are many “red flags” here considered by the consul or airport inspector: The visa holder must remember that when he applies for a visa…

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