Top 15 Trends and Observations in 212(a)(6)(C)(i) Visa Decisions – Part III
Here, we finalize our list of the top 15 trends and observations relating to Section 212(a)(6)(C)(i) – findings of willful, material misrepresentations:
11. The Role of ICE/HSI. Most individuals who have either submitted a work or immigration petition or application or entered the United States are familiar with the government agencies involved in those processes – US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP), respectively. And many are familiar with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) as the “immigration police”: ICE enforces US immigration laws within the United States. But not many are aware that the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) branch of ICE has officers embedded into certain consulates overseas and that those officers make findings of inadmissibility. ICE denies that it makes such findings – its position is that it is the consular officer who makes such findings, not ICE. However, we have seen internal government documents in which it is explicitly indicated that HSI has made the pertinent misrepresentation finding. Worst of all, HSI does not have an official reconsideration application or appeals process, and consular officers will only defer to such misrepresentation decisions – they will not reopen or reexamine them.
12. Alien Smuggling vs. Misrepresentation. Findings of alien smuggling under Section 212(a)(6)(E) and misrepresentation Section 212(a)(6)(C)(i) are both draconian in their consequences – permanent bars to entry. However, a visa applicant who is the parent of a US citizen should prefer an alien smuggling decision instead of a misrepresentation determination. For parents of US citizens, there is no immigrant waiver available for a misrepresentation finding. However, if the parent has been accused of alien smuggling – for example, facilitating the illicit entry of the child to the United States by declaring an intent to just visit the US when the true intent was to enroll in school – not only is an I-601 immigrant waiver available, but one must only meet a relatively low evidentiary threshold. For the approval of such immigrant waiver, one need only show a humanitarian purpose, the promotion of family unity, or that it would be in the public interest.
13. 214(b). This trend has been going on for so long that it has become the New Normal. In the context of 212(a)(6)(C)(i), we see consuls rendering 214(b) decisions on B visitor and F student applications to ensure that the individual cannot even apply for the nonimmigrant waiver. If an individual has been denied a visa under Section 212(a)(6)(C)(i), with limited exception, that individual has an absolute right to request a nonimmigrant waiver. One of the exceptions is 214(b), i.e., if an individual has been found ineligible for a visa under Section 214(b) in addition to 212(a)(6)(C)(i), that individual cannot apply for a nonimmigrant waiver. Consuls know this, and so to short-circuit any attempt to apply for a nonimmigrant waiver, often they will impose 214(b) as well – whether it applies or not. The 214(b) and nonimmigrant waiver criteria are distinct, yet the consuls conflate the two – lumping them together. In so doing, they ensure that the applicant cannot request the waiver.
14. “Hibernating” Misrepresentations to USCIS. Like the bear that emerges after a long sleep, a 6Ci finding made by USCIS many years prior may be resurrected by a consul. For example, this may occur if a foreign student in the US married a US citizen, and during the immigration process, USCIS suspected a sham marriage. Divorce or withdrawal of the immigration application may not prevent USCIS from entering a misrepresentation decision. Worse, the individual may have left the US unaware of any final decision made by USCIS and only learns of the decision when applying for the visa.
15. The Role of CBP. CBP is empowered to and often makes findings of misrepresentations. And even if it does not – instead, making an expedited removal decision with a 5-year bar or letting a person “off the hook” by allowing an individual to withdraw his or her application to enter the United States – that does not prevent a consul from making a finding of a misrepresentation. In other words, the CBP inspector may believe that an individual did not make a willful, material misrepresentation to the inspector. But the consul, using the same CBP Sworn Statement, may interpret a statement made to the CBP inspector as a willful, material misrepresentation.
As you can see, every case is different. Factual permutations are endless. Limited consular time for interviews and review, as well as massive backlogs in visa interviews and processing, have raised the stakes. The overriding trend is that enforcement has become more aggressive, with sometimes overzealous USCIS, CBP, ICE, and consular officials turning lives upside down. So feel free to contact us to discuss your situation. You may only get one chance to defend yourself. Use that chance wisely.