Top 15 Trends and Observations in 212(a)(6)(C)(i) Visa Decisions – Part II

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Last week we began the list of the top 15 trends and observations relating to the consular imposition of permanent bars under Section 212(a)(6)(C)(i) for willful, material misrepresentations. Hopefully, this will inform and educate as you plan for future visa applications.  Here, we continue that list: 6. OPT Fraud.  Much ink and many tears have been shed over the OPT scandal, with the full impact only now being felt.  Starting in 2020, thousands of individuals have been permanently barred from the US for their association with scam OPT companies, such as Findream, AZTech, Integra, Wireclass, and Global IT Experts.  More can be read about this scandal on our blogs, but suffice to say that the consequences will be felt for the rest of the lives of not only these individuals, but close family members and American employers as well.  Instead of being able to live the American dream, these talented…

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Top 15 Trends and Observations in 212(a)(6)(C)(i) Visa Decisions

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Unlawful presence (212(a)(9)(B)), misrepresentations (212(a)(6)(C)(i)), and alien smuggling (212(a)(6)(E)) continue to be the most frequently invoked inadmissibility bars to entry to the United States by consular officers.  And while unlawful presence based on overstays in the United States is a relatively straightforward legal decision, determinations of willful, material misrepresentations and alien smuggling are not.   How does one define “materiality”? Was the misrepresentation actually “willful”? What does it mean to “aid and abet the illegal entry” to the United States? This 3-part blog will focus on the latest trends in consular misrepresentation (“6Ci”) decisions; later, we will address recent trends in smuggling (“6E”) adjudications. Notwithstanding the pandemic and the limited operations of consular posts, the rendering of 6Ci determinations continues unabated.  In the pandemic years of FY2020 and FY2021, consuls entered more than 17,000 misrepresentation findings. During this time, we have observed the following: Politics is Overestimated. Many thought that with…

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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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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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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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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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A Visa Applicant’s Bill of Rights – What the Department of State and Your Local US Embassy/Consulate Often Do Not Want You to Know

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For visa applicants, the cards seem to be stacked against you.  Among the hurdles a visa applicant must face: The law places the burden on the visa applicant to prove eligibility for the visa and that he or she is not inadmissible to the United States. There are inadequate consular resources; at busy posts, consular officers can only allot a few minutes to a visa adjudication. There is no formal administrative appeals process of a visa denial (no Administrative Appeals Office, Board of Immigration Appeals, Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals). With limited exception, there is no judicial review of visa decisions because of the  doctrine of consular reviewability. There is limited public accountability: no Department of State (DOS) Visa Ombudsman, no formal Complaint Procedure, and no formal recusal process. Section 428 of the Homeland Security Act grants the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) a vital role in the visa…

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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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FAQ on New Public Charge Rules – Part 2: Trouble ahead for Older Immigrants, Diversity Lottery Winners, and Immigrants without Job Offers, English Skills, or University Education

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On February 22, we published Part 1 of this FAQ. Since then, the Department of State, including all embassies and consular posts outside the United States, implemented the new rules. What practical changes have gone into effect? It is still too early to know exactly what each embassy and consulate will require from immigrant visa applicants.  However, in the few weeks since the rules went into effect, it appears that embassies and consulates processing immigrant visas are requiring 1) the completion and submission of the Form DS-5540 and 2) asset and income documents confirming the information in the Form.   The new Form DS-5540 asks about the immigrant visa applicant’s 1) age: 2) health; 3) household size; 4) assets; 5) current and future income; 6) liabilities; 7) past usage of public benefits in the US, if any; 8) education; and 9) trade/vocational skills. Documents confirming assets, such as real estate appraisals…

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Diversity Lottery Refusals

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We have just posted an in-depth article on this site about the various types of Diversity Lottery refusals – and how to prevent or challenge them.  At least 30,000 individuals go through Diversity Visa interviews every year – and don’t receive the visas.  Putting aside the approximately $10,000,000 in processing fees pocketed by the Department of State from unsuccessful applicants every year and millions more spent by these applicants in medical exams, travel, etc…, the article spotlights the veritable minefield of potential reasons for refusal.  One would think that the Lottery aspect of the Diversity Visa Program only applies to the selection – competing to be one of the less than 1% selected. But what many winners find is that even after selection the “Lottery” elements of luck and chance continue right up until September 30: until the visa is issued or denied or the application is not acted upon…

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Department of State Announcement on the Suspension of Routine Visa Services

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Suspension of Routine Visa Services Last Updated: March 20, 2020   In response to significant worldwide challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of State is temporarily suspending routine visa services at all U.S. Embassies and Consulates. Embassies and consulates will cancel all routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments as of March 20, 2020. As resources allow, embassies and consulates will continue to provide emergency and mission critical visa services. Our overseas missions will resume routine visa services as soon as possible but are unable to provide a specific date at this time. Services to U.S. citizens continue to be available. More information is available on each Embassy’s website. This does not affect the Visa Waiver Program. See https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/faq?focusedTopic=Schengen%20Travel%20Proclamation for more information. Although all routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments are cancelled, the Machine Readable Visa (MRV) fee is valid and may be used for a visa appointment in the country…

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E-2 Visa Denials

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One usually does not associate the US Government Accountability Office with “interesting” reports, but last year’s report on E-2 visas was eye-opening.  Of particular note are the reasons why E-2 applicants are denied.  While the report is limited to examining certain countries, it provides critical insight into the thinking of consular officers and obstacles to obtaining E-2 visas. As a reminder E-2 visas are limited to nationals of countries with whom the United States has commerce and navigation treaties. The full list of countries can be found on the Department of State’s website, with 80% of all E-2 applicants originating from 9 countries: Japan, Germany, UK, France, Canada, Mexico, South Korea, Italy, and Spain. The majority of E-2 visa applicants are related to large investments (>$10 million) – think of managers and essential employees going from Japan to work in a large car plant in the United States.  However, the…

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