Why Misrepresenting Yourself is an Immigration No-No

A top priority for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is to identify people who are attempting to abuse the U.S. immigration process. As a result, if USCIS finds that you are misrepresenting yourself or your history to try to get into, or stay in, the United States, the penalties are severe. 

According to 8 U.S.C. §1182(a)(6)(C)(i), “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 chapter is inadmissible.” What does this mean? Lying to an immigration officer, lying on any immigration application, or submitting fraudulent or even minorly altered documents to an immigration agency, subjects you to a lifetime ban from the United States.

Some examples of situations that may create a lifetime ban:

  • When seeking a marriage green card, if USCIS determines that the marriage wasn’t bona fide, meaning it was a marriage entered solely to obtain a green card, this can subject you to a lifetime ban.
  • If you abuse a tourist visa, USCIS may subject you to a lifetime ban. For example, you are not permitted to seek permanent residency by entering the U.S. on a tourist VISA. If you enter the United States on a temporary VISA with the intention of filing for a green card, you risk the agency finding that you were intentionally abusing your temporary visa and may subject yourself to a permanent ban from the U.S.
  • If you misrepresented yourself on a prior application, this could cause problems even if you didn’t fill out the form yourself. For example, if you hired an attorney in a foreign country to complete an application on your behalf, any misrepresentation on the prior application, whether approved by you or not, can subject you to a lifetime ban.
  • Immigration agencies often considers omissions from your application as intentional misrepresentation. For example,  USCIS may charge you with misrepresentation if you you don’t include your prior marriage, an earlier arrest, or you don’t include all of your group memberships, thinking they aren’t necessary.  

The immigration application process can be fraught with pitfalls. That’s why it’s a good idea to consult an experienced immigration attorney before filing an application with the USCIS. Even if you have a criminal or organizational history that you think may disqualify you, or if you believe you have engaged in misrepresentation, I may be able to help. I have helped people from around the world overcome small and large obstacles during the U.S. immigration process. I would love to help you too.