How to Avoid Immigration Fraud, Part 2: The Honest Visa

In Part One of our series on How to Avoid Immigration Fraud, American Travel Visa Lawyer Ford Banister advised applicants to avoid unqualified “visa agencies” and others who pose as legal counselors and explained how American Travel Visa applicants can identify and verify a bona fide American Travel Visa Lawyer to guide them through the American Travel Visa application process. In Part Two, we explore the concept of “The Honest Visa.” In short, to use a common American phrase that also has linguistic equivalents in many languages and dialects, “Honesty is the Best Policy.” There is no other visa type other than The Honest Visa. In order to obtain The Honest Visa, American travel visa applicants should follow these simple steps.

Be Honest

The first and easiest way to avoid immigration fraud is to exercise complete self-control and not give in to the temptation to attempt to try to make your application appear more deserving than it might actually be. Most obviously, applicants should never knowingly submit false documents or make false statements during the application process. If you are nervous during the visa interview, it may seem natural and expedient to simply tell the consular officer what they seem to want to hear. Remember that Consular Officers are highly trained and review thousands of American travel visa applications each year. They are adept at detecting fraud. If you do not know the answer to a question, simply admit that you do not know.

A finding of inadmissibility may be waived. A finding of ineligibility may be reviewed on reapplication. Obtaining waivers and assisting those found to be ineligible for American Travel Visas with reapplication is the focus of our practice. A denial on almost any grounds may be waived or overcome by the filing of a well prepared new application as discussed in depth in our section on Travel Visa Denial. If a denial is forthcoming, the applicant must accept it and utilize the set procedures for waiver or reapplication. There is never a situation where any misrepresentation will be helpful to an applicant.

Misrepresentation itself is a grounds for inadmissibility. Visa applicants are required by law to provide truthful answer to questions posed by Consular or Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) officers.[1] If discovered, misrepresentation, with narrow exceptions, makes a person permanently ineligible for future visas.[2] Ineligibility due to misrepresentation may also be waived. However, the process is difficult, stressful, expensive and uncertain. Misrepresentations during the visa process may also be considered criminal acts such as perjury, immigration fraud and making a false statement to the U.S. government. Thus, misrepresentation may render inadmissible an applicant who was actually eligible for an American Travel Visa at the time of application.

Run, Do Not Walk, Away from Anyone Who Advises You to Lie During the Application Process

“Visa agencies” are generally not subject to the strict regulation imposed on the American legal profession. Instead, these companies are businesses that may have no compunction about advising a visa applicant to lie. Where an agency persuades a customer to make such misrepresentations, the agency may violate U.S. federal laws against alien smuggling, enticing the entry of illegal alien and harboring illegal aliens. More specifically, the crime of “bringing in and harboring certain aliens” is committed when a person “encourages or induces” a noncitizen to come to or enter the United States, knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that it will be in violation of law.[3] A person convicted of violating this statute may face a term of imprisonment of up to ten years. As a practical matter, though there have been prosecutions for visa fraud where the perpetrators are within the U.S., the consequences of this conduct almost always fall completely on the applicant while the agencies who advised them remain outside of U.S. jurisdiction.

Do Not Allow Anyone to Submit an American Travel Visa Application on Your Behalf

American Travel Visa applicants must submit the Form DS-160 on their own. Limited exceptions exist for those who are unable to submit the form alone due to minority, illiteracy or ill health. No one, even, in my opinion, an attorney, is permitted to press the “Submit” button on the applicant’s behalf.  While an applicant may receive assistance filling out the Form DS-160, the applicant alone and no other will bear complete responsibility for the truthfulness of the information submitted. An applicant who permits a third party to submit the DS-160 on their behalf will be held responsible for any false statements or incomplete answers.[4] There is no time limitation that forbids a Consular Officer from finding you inadmissible due to misrepresentation. Thus, even years later, even after a visa has been issued, an applicant may have their visa revoked or be denied a visa renewal or adjustment of status due to past misrepresentation.

Timely Retraction

If an American Travel Visa applicant makes or finds that someone else has made a false statement in connection with a visa application, a timely retraction of the statement or information will serve to purge the misrepresentation from the record as grounds for inadmissibility. The record must be corrected at the first possible opportunity. Whether a misrepresentation was corrected at the first opportunity is a question of fact that varies from case to case. If you are aware of a false statement having been made on your American Travel Visa application, consult with a qualified American Travel Visa Lawyer as soon as possible. Correction of false statements is something that must be done skillfully in order to avoid severely negative immigration consequences.[5]

Conclusion

The idea that The Honest Visa is impossible to get is a myth. If there are issues that might tend to complicate your American Travel Visa application, The Immigration Law Office of L. Ford Banister, II is here to help. Proceeding through the application process with professional legal counsel may help you avoid common pitfalls suffered by applicants who try to navigate the complex system of American immigration law alone or with the assistance of unqualified agents. With The Immigration Law Office of L. Ford Banister, II representing you, you will have peace of mind knowing that the your application for The Honest Visa will be diligently and ethically pursued in compliance with the highest standards of the American legal profession.

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[1] See 8 C.F.R. 214.1(f): (f) Registration and false information . A nonimmigrant’s admission and continued stay in the United States is conditioned on compliance with any registration, photographing, and fingerprinting requirements under § 264.1(f) of this chapter that relate to the maintenance of nonimmigrant status and also on the full and truthful disclosure of all information requested by the Service. Willful failure by a nonimmigrant to register or to provide full and truthful information requested by the Service (regardless of whether or not the information requested was material) constitutes a failure to maintain nonimmigrant status under section 237(a)(1)(C)(i) of the Act (8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(1)(C)(i)). (Revised effective 9/11/02; 67 FR 52584).

[2] See INA 212(a)(6)(C)(i): (C) Misrepresentation.- (i) In general. -Any alien who, by fraud or willfully misrepresenting a material fact, seeks to procure (or has sought to procure or has procured) a visa, other documentation, or admission into the United States or other benefit provided under this Act is inadmissible.

[3] See 8 U.S.C. 1324 defining criminal offenses related to alien smuggling, harboring and fraud.

[4] For further information, see 9 FAM 403.2-5(B) Completion and Use of Application Forms. Also see 9 FAM 302.9-4(B)(3)(e) (U) Interpretation of the Term Misrepresentation: “(U) Misrepresentation Made by Applicant’s Agent or Attorney:  The fact that an alien pursues a visa application through an attorney or travel agent does not serve to insulate the alien from liability for misrepresentations made by such agents, if it is established that the alien was aware of the action being taken in furtherance of the application.”

[5] See 9 FAM 302.9-4(B)(3)(f) (U) Interpretation of the Term Misrepresentation:  (U) Timely Retraction: A timely retraction will serve to purge a misrepresentation and remove it from further consideration as a ground for INA 212(a)(6)(C)(i) and INA 212(a)(6)(C)(ii) inadmissibility.  Whether a retraction is timely depends on the circumstances of the particular case.  In general, it should be made at the first opportunity.  If the applicant has personally appeared and been interviewed, the retraction must have been made during that interview.  If the misrepresentation has been noted in a “mail-order” application, the applicant must be called in for an interview and the retraction must be made during the course thereof.  For this reason, aliens must be warned of the penalty imposed by INA 212(a)(6)(C)(i) and INA 212(a)(6)(C)(ii) at the outset of every initial interview.