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Any questions?

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Re: "Material" Misrepresentations & Immigration Fraud
« Reply #70 on: January 23, 2012, 12:27:57 AM »

Wow - some great posts related to immigration matters here. My husband and I came to the U.S. on immigrant visas after hubby won the D-V (Diversity Lottery) several years ago. I was not legally married to my husband (had not yet gotten a marriage license) by the time he got the notice he was assigned a visa lottery. Neither did we legally married when he sent the first response to the (NVC) National Visa Center shortly after. We only got legally married in August of that year, 4 months after he listed me as her spouse on the NVC forms. The reason why I did not legally marry to my husband from the very beginning (since I began to live with my-hubby-to-be, in August) and my mother left for the States (September), was that I was counting on my parents who went to the US to get me too there, after my permanent resident mother (she won a D-V Lottery the year before) would have hopefully arranged something for me; although all she's able to do, in actuality, was just petitioning on my behalf in January of next year - she filed the I-130 with INS, immigrant relative petition for an unmarried child 21+


Excuse me - just to make sure I'm getting this right - why did ya have to find a man (the-hubby-to-be) after your parents immigrated to the States?! Why couldn't you stay single and wait that way for the time to come to join your parents?! I would have to go ahead and assume you're from some kind of Muslim country where women are expected to have "their man"! Are you guys afraid there men will harass, rape and kill you, were you to walk alone in the streets?! Hell, you even say you found him in August, just one month before your parents would leave for the US - pardon my French, but wouldn't one be justified to go on a hunch and say that your people arranged for you to engage 'a nobody', somebody very likely beyond your level, just because time dictated that?!

But then again - it's just doesn't add up - from what I know, in these countries, where women are considered to be their man's property, living temporarily with a man as husband and wife is frowned upon and is considered unacceptable. You are flat out saying that that was basically your plan - were your parents to have arranged in some type or form for you to go to the US, you would stop living with him right away to join your parents in the States. Unless you were some kind of SuperGirl who didn't much care about notions and taboos, you'd still be faced with your own country's people who more likely than not would not see your previous arrangement sympathetically. In fact, that's what your hubby might have counted on - that you would not, in actuality, leave him, reason why he tolerated at first when agreeing not to enter into a marriage contract (in the hope, that with the passing of time, he'd get there - the important thing was that he got you in hand, getting a much better deal than he could have ever dreamed of). As for America, little did he care, although he'd eventually get that as well, sooner or later, via you.

I'm kinda perplexed as to what kind of "arrangement" this was, with this "hubby-to-be," as you call him. You are saying it yourself that the petition that your mother filed on your behalf would take years to materialize into a green card - would you continue on the concubinage path with your boyfriend/husband/whatever you choose to call him? Would you have any children with him? I would assume No, since your wait time to immigrate to the US would be even longer. So all these sacrifices (because they are considered to be "sacrifices" in those countries) just to be able to come to the US - and then, when immigrants actually arrive here, they figure it out how wrong they were to have made all those insane decisions, back in their native countries where/when they thought America was the "land of milk and honey"!

Was all that worth it?! Spending years with a man beyond your level, compromising your real marital (and probably) professional life, all these in the name of a dream (America)? Or even worse, ending up with that very man, just like it turned out, when that Cheetah was handed a stupid lottery?!

Any questions?

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Re: "Material" Misrepresentations & Immigration Fraud
« Reply #71 on: January 23, 2012, 12:29:05 AM »

That petition would take years to mature into an actual green card, but we all were optimistic nevertheless; and there you have it - in April, my husband gets that notification letter from the NVC letting him know he had won the D-V lottery. From that point on, we were concerned that the Consular officer would accuse my husband during the interview for misrepresentation because of my hubby having claimed me arbitrarily as his wife on the NVC forms (initially in February when originally applied for, and then again in May) - given the fact that we only got the marriage license 4 months after he made the statements on the NVC forms (August). We remained anxious 'til the day of the interview, April of next year, but the Consular Officer was surprisingly over-friendly towards us, with him granting us the immigrant visas and without inquiring at all as to our marriage timing.


Now on to legal staff - Yes, you have made misrepresentations amounting to immigration fraud, if that's what you really wanna know. There's no doubt at all that the officer (Consular officer) was aware of the fact that your marriage began legally after your husband claimed you as his wife on the NVC Forms.

However, by law, not all misrepresentations result in a person's automatic ineligibility for a visa. In order for an alien to be ineligible for a visa based on fraud or misrepresentation, the following elements must exist:

1. There has been a misrepresentation made by the applicant.
2. The representation was willfully made.
3. The alien uses fraud to receive a benefit under the Immigration Act (i.e. visa, entry into the U.S., labor certification, adjustment of status, etc.).
4. The fact misrepresented is material. If the misrepresentation is not "material," the person may still be eligible for a visa.


Truth-be-told, we were anxious also because we could not disclose to the Consular officer that the two of us had lived in a neighboring country for some time - my mother-in-law paid a friend of hers for us to be issued two brand-new passports, so that we did not have to show at all the neighboring country's entering visas we had gotten during the years on our old passports. We had been on and off illegally in that country, so we could not get clearances from that country's police for the time period we lived there. This is something that almost all the people who win the American green card lottery do - it's not smth we did to hide some kind of "major crime" committed or anything like that. We were hearing that those people who admitted to the Consulate that they had been in other countries, besides their home country, were required to submit police clearances from those neighboring countries' authorities, something difficult and time-consuming, since we had also been there illegally - the way such a thing is handled in our native country is to simply pay the municipal employees for a new passport (easily accomplished and for not too much money) and then appear with the new passport before the Consular officer.

We also arranged for (fake) Employment Verification Letters where it was stated by (fake) employers that we had been employed in our home country (having had, thus, lived there all the time), so that it would appear that we had not been outside our home country at any time (to put it differently, we covered gaps in our employment history). These latter two are done regularly by almost all people who win the lottery in our country, and the consulate people themselves know deep down themselves that such things happen all too often.


In determining whether or not a person made a "material" misrepresentation, the following rules apply:

a) The misrepresentation must be a positive or affirmative statement or act made by the alien. "Silence or the failure to volunteer information does not in itself constitute a misrepresentation"
b) The alien's misrepresentation must have been before a U.S. government official (i.e. a U.S. Consular Officer or an INS Officer). Misrepresentations made to officials of other countries' governments may not constitute "misrepresentation" for purposes of finding a person ineligible for a U.S. visa.
c) If a person made a misrepresentation, but timely retracted that misrepresentation, then a "timely retraction will serve to purge a misrepresentation and remove it from further consideration as a ground for...ineligibility."
d) Only misrepresentations of material facts constitute grounds for ineligibility of a visa.
e) 'In order for a misrepresentation to be considered "material," the truth of the matter (or alien's circumstances) must lead to a proper finding of ineligibility for a visa. However, if the truth would still support a finding that the alien is eligible for a visa, then the misrepresented fact is not material.

The Immigration starts deportation proceedings against thousands of aliens who entered the United States through misrepresentation or fraud. Examples of such misrepresentation include the use of false passports, visas or even the failure to disclose marital status or children. Discovery by the INS of an alien's misrepresentation usually happens at the alien's "green card" interview. When discovered, the INS officer will inform the alien of the availability of an I-601 waiver (pardon) for this particular violation of immigration law.


Now, this piece of neighbor * & ^ % keeps telling me what we've done is considered "fraud." I mean, come on, a lot of water has flown under the bridge, not to mention the fact that we have by now 2 children born in this country (US citizens). Do you think we might be having problems were someone to reopen the case and note these "minor inconsistencies"?


I n c i t a t u s

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Re: "Material" Misrepresentations & Immigration Fraud
« Reply #72 on: January 23, 2012, 02:51:24 AM »

Wow - some great posts related to immigration matters here. My husband and I came to the U.S. on immigrant visas after hubby won the D-V (Diversity Lottery) several years ago. I was not legally married to my husband (had not yet gotten a marriage license) by the time he got the notice he was assigned a visa lottery. Neither did we legally married when he sent the first response to the (NVC) National Visa Center shortly after. We only got legally married in August of that year, 4 months after he listed me as her spouse on the NVC forms. The reason why I did not legally marry to my husband from the very beginning (since I began to live with my-hubby-to-be, in August) and my mother left for the States (September), was that I was counting on my parents who went to the US to get me too there, after my permanent resident mother (she won a D-V Lottery the year before) would have hopefully arranged something for me; although all she's able to do, in actuality, was just petitioning on my behalf in January of next year - she filed the I-130 with INS, immigrant relative petition for an unmarried child 21+


Excuse me - just to make sure I'm getting this right - why did ya have to find a man (the-hubby-to-be) after your parents immigrated to the States?! Why couldn't you stay single and wait that way for the time to come to join your parents?! I would have to go ahead and assume you're from some kind of Muslim country where women are expected to have "their man"! Are you guys afraid there men will harass, rape and kill you, were you to walk alone in the streets?! Hell, you even say you found him in August, just one month before your parents would leave for the US - pardon my French, but wouldn't one be justified to go on a hunch and say that your people arranged for you to engage 'a nobody', somebody very likely beyond your level, just because time dictated that?!

But then again - it's just doesn't add up - from what I know, in these countries, where women are considered to be their man's property, living temporarily with a man as husband and wife is frowned upon and is considered unacceptable. You are flat out saying that that was basically your plan - were your parents to have arranged in some type or form for you to go to the US, you would stop living with him right away to join your parents in the States. Unless you were some kind of SuperGirl who didn't much care about notions and taboos, you'd still be faced with your own country's people who more likely than not would not see your previous arrangement sympathetically. In fact, that's what your hubby might have counted on - that you would not, in actuality, leave him, reason why he tolerated at first when agreeing not to enter into a marriage contract (in the hope, that with the passing of time, he'd get there - the important thing was that he got you in hand, getting a much better deal than he could have ever dreamed of). As for America, little did he care, although he'd eventually get that as well, sooner or later, via you.

I'm kinda perplexed as to what kind of "arrangement" this was, with this "hubby-to-be," as you call him. You are saying it yourself that the petition that your mother filed on your behalf would take years to materialize into a green card - would you continue on the concubinage path with your boyfriend/husband/whatever you choose to call him? Would you have any children with him? I would assume No, since your wait time to immigrate to the US would be even longer. So all these sacrifices (because they are considered to be "sacrifices" in those countries) just to be able to come to the US - and then, when immigrants actually arrive here, they figure it out how wrong they were to have made all those insane decisions, back in their native countries where/when they thought America was the "land of milk and honey"!

Was all that worth it?! Spending years with a man beyond your level, compromising your real marital (and probably) professional life, all these in the name of a dream (America)? Or even worse, ending up with that very man, just like it turned out, when that Cheetah was handed a stupid lottery?!


"Any questions" - listen to me, you b i t c h - you are stupid if you think I only cared to come to the U'S ... I did not mention in my first post that I came to the U'S along with my hubby on B-2 visas a couple of months before we were supposed to go for the green card interviews (that actually changed later, as the b i t c h e s postponed the interviews' dates). We stayed 40 days in the U'S at my parents' apartment. It was when an immigration attorney told us that we would  probably not be able to process the lottery visa from within the U'S, that we left the U'S and went back to our native country to have the lottery visa interview.

Now, if my only intention was to get to this country (U'S), would I have left and go back to my native country together with my husband?! There was no guarantee whatsoever that we'd get the immigrant visas from there (we had those stupid issues that you know) and the B-2 visas we used to enter the U'S were single-entry - so we could not get back to the U'S. And yet, we decided to go back to our native country, no matter what the results of the @ # ! * i n g green card interview would be.

Because we did not want to remain illegally in the U'S like b i t c h e s, after our visitor visas would have expired. We said, we're better off in our native country, being full-right citizens, rather than illegally in the U'S.

I am sorry but your guessing wrong, I loved and I love my husband - I was not left by my parents in his "protective custody," until my visa number would have become current, as you say. We did not much care whether we'd get the lottery visas to reenter this country one more time, or not - were it not like that, we would have not chosen to go back to our native country and process the green card lottery from there. There was probably enough time for our lottery to be processed from within the U'S (although there were slight chances we couldn't process it from here and we had to go back to our native country - but even if we'd not get the m u t h a @ # ! * i g green card because of staying here and not going back, we'd still be here in the U'S, albeit illegally). And yet, we went back - and, of course, not because this immigration attorney held a knife to our necks threatening to cut our throats open were we to decide contrary to what he advised us to do!

So, would you please give some credit where credit's due, Any Questions?!

GiuGiaku

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Re: practicing law as a non-U.S. citizen
« Reply #73 on: January 23, 2012, 09:53:20 PM »

Some months ago a Russian couple (young professionals who could have had some kind of future in their own country) moved in the apartment building I live in with my family. They are very open people who do not hesitate to tell one some pretty fine details of their life - so there you have it: they told us they came from Russia on temporary tourist visas that they bought $10,000 a piece from the US Consulate people in their country. They sold their house for some $30,000 and used that money to buy two tourist visas and pay for their travel expenses to the US.

Now I understand that the US is considered to be by many people around the world as the place where their dreams will come true and where they will be able to better themselves (in all meanings of the term). But is that really the case? My question is, how do these people decide to go ahead and sell their house to buy a tourist visa to enter this country - and go underground for years working menial jobs, hoping they will be able to "make it"?! (I have heard it may well take some 5, or even 10 years, for illegal immigrants to get permanent residency (green card) - how much are they supposed to pay for it, I'd guess there is another fee to pay to get it, isn't it?) I mean, you have here a lot of American folks who are having a hard time keeping their houses, having to go thru foreclosures - are you trying to tell me these new immigrants are going to have a better life here, although it may take some 10-15 years?!

Even if they do, it's just not worth the trouble to go that route, taken into account the enormous amount of time to adjust to the new culture and establish themselves economically. To me, it's simply incomprehensible that one would pay $10,000 to buy a visa to enter the country, only to subject oneself to a calvary of pain and suffering to make ends meet for years and years on end!


Exactly - Coming to this country in such a manner only makes sense for blue-collar guys who have no real opportunities in their own native countries.

But for white-collar professionals, especially if they're in their 40s or 50s, it just doesn't make sense to immigrate at all (be it legally or illegally).

GiuGiaku

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Re: .....
« Reply #74 on: January 24, 2012, 02:09:00 AM »

[...]

Now, if my only intention was to get to this country (U'S), would I have left and go back to my native country together with my husband?! There was no guarantee whatsoever that we'd get the immigrant visas from there (we had those stupid issues that you know) and the B-2 visas we used to enter the U'S were single-entry - so we could not get back to the U'S. And yet, we decided to go back to our native country, no matter what the results of the @ # ! * i n g green card interview would be.

Because we did not want to remain illegally in the U'S like b i t c h e s, after our visitor visas would have expired. We said, we're better off in our native country, being full-right citizens, rather than illegally in the U'S.

[...] There was probably enough time for our lottery to be processed from within the U'S (although there were slight chances we couldn't process it from here and we had to go back to our native country - but even if we'd not get the m u t h a @ # ! * i n g green card because of staying here and not going back, we'd still be here in the U'S, albeit illegally). And yet, we went back - and, of course, not because this immigration attorney held a knife to our necks threatening to cut our throats open were we to decide contrary to what he advised us to do!


Incitatus - don't you worry about the b i t c h e s!

By going back to your country - regardless of the fact that you might not be able to come back here again (given the issues with the lottery application) - you made a statement that you did not much @ # ! * i n g care about America!

Too bad for some others who sell their a s s e s just to get a visa like yours to enter this country to be @ # ! * e d the * & ^ % out of!

breach of contract

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Re: .....
« Reply #75 on: January 27, 2012, 08:30:22 PM »

[...] why did ya have to find a man (the-hubby-to-be) after your parents immigrated to the States?! Why couldn't you stay single and wait that way for the time to come to join your parents?! I would have to go ahead and assume you're from some kind of Muslim country where women are expected to have "their man"! Are you guys afraid there men will harass, rape and kill you, were you to walk alone in the streets?! Hell, you even say you found him in August, just one month before your parents would leave for the US - pardon my French, but wouldn't one be justified to go on a hunch and say that your people arranged for you to engage 'a nobody', somebody very likely beyond your level, just because time dictated that?!


Any Questions, have you ever been in any of these countries? Gaza Strip, let's say, places where there is no real government and people take the law in their hands? You assume it's everywhere like here in the US, where no one dares to even look at you, let alone to harass you sexually and the like. I wouldn't suspect that her people were on to something, just because the woman married her husband in a rush, so to speak, so that she would not be alone in her country after her parents would immigrate here. Try to be a little bit less judgmental and try to account for the vast cultural differences between people!

applewasp

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Re: practicing law as a non-U.S. citizen
« Reply #76 on: February 05, 2012, 02:46:12 PM »

Be careful, however! My neighbor is being deported back to his native Check Republic because during his AOS procedure they discovered he had entered the country on a fake B-2 visa. They were reviewing all the visa applications made in Prague between 1999 and 2002 at the time when Alexander Meerovich served as a consular officer (eventually he pled guilty to visa fraud). He acknowledges that he sold at least 85 fraudulent visas over a two year period while serving as deputy consul general at the US Embassy. This neighbor tells he paid a Check citizen working in the Embassy some $10,000 to get the visa. Looks like they were all in the game, the consular officer himself included.


Nothing surprising! The State Department actually CLOSED the US consulate in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico some years back for similar reasons. It investigated allegations that the consulate illegally sold visas to a number of people. It was the 6th busiest US consulate in the world, issuing 117,000 visas. According to Mexican police, they heard rumors that Mexican citizens were being approached by consulate employees with offers to sell visas. They passed the information on to the US government. The most of the documents sold were either tourist visas or border crossing cards. The names of those who bought visas were entered into lookout lists and distributed to law enforcement agencies.

Miguel Partida, a visa officer and a US citizen, was charged with conspiracy to commit visa fraud while working at the consulate. Three Mexicans were charged in the case as well. The defendants were Sergio Genaro Ochoa-Alarcon 31, Benjamin Antonio Ayala-Morales, 34 and Ramon Alberto Torres-Galvin, 34. The men worked as visa clerks at the US consulate. All in custody.

According to the indictment against Partida, agents of the Diplomatic Security Service initiated an investigation the previous year into allegations that Consulate employees were involved in a scheme to provide visas and border crossing cards in exchange for money. Visas were apparently bought for around $1,500 without the required interviews and without a determination that the person was qualified for a visa. The US consulate in Nuevo Laredo issued 100,000 visas, but federal authorities have refused to state how many visas were sold in the alleged scheme. Authorities did say, however, that they believed the scheme was directed by a woman in Mexico named Margarita Martinez Ramirez.


They say the Tijuana consulate is notorious when it comes to this stuff!


Actually all Mexican consulates are rumored to be like this!

penda

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Re: .....
« Reply #77 on: February 06, 2012, 03:02:42 PM »

[...]

That petition would take years to mature into an actual green card, but we all were optimistic nevertheless; and there you have it - in April, my husband gets that notification letter from the NVC letting him know he had won the D-V lottery. From that point on, we were concerned that the Consular officer would accuse my husband during the interview for misrepresentation because of my hubby having claimed me arbitrarily as his wife on the NVC forms (initially in February when originally applied for, and then again in May) - given the fact that we only got the marriage license 4 months after he made the statements on the NVC forms (August). We remained anxious 'til the day of the interview, April of next year, but the Consular Officer was surprisingly over-friendly towards us, with him granting us the immigrant visas and without inquiring at all as to our marriage timing.

Truth-be-told, we were anxious also because we could not disclose to the Consular officer that the two of us had lived in a neighboring country for some time - my mother-in-law paid a friend of hers for us to be issued two brand-new passports, so that we did not have to show at all the neighboring country's entering visas we had gotten during the years on our old passports. We had been on and off illegally in that country, so we could not get clearances from that country's police for the time period we lived there. This is something that almost all the people who win the American green card lottery do - it's not smth we did to hide some kind of "major crime" committed or anything like that.

We were hearing that those people who admitted to the Consulate that they had been in other countries, besides their home country, were required to submit police clearances from those neighboring countries' authorities, something difficult and time-consuming, since we had also been there illegally - the way such a thing is handled in our native country is to simply pay the municipal employees for a new passport (easily accomplished and for not too much money) and then appear with the new passport before the Consular officer.

We also arranged for (fake) Employment Verification Letters where it was stated by (fake) employers that we had been employed in our home country (having had, thus, lived there all the time), so that it would appear that we had not been outside our home country at any time (to put it differently, we covered gaps in our employment history). These latter two are done regularly by almost all people who win the lottery in our country, and the consulate people themselves know deep down themselves that such things happen all too often.


Incitatus, what you mention in regard to your issue with the lottery application: It was my understanding that the DV "lottery" is as much "lottery" as apple is an orange. The people are selected for specific (political, ethnic, racial, and religious) reasons, and the state dept. is aware that most other cultures and countries have other values of certain moral issues. Little "white" lies are not significant enough to guarantee such a drastic punishment such as, say, "deportation."

Here it is a post on how people from foreign countries have not too much of a problem submitting, say, a birth certificate which is a bit altered.


I find the latter part hard to believe! Presenting a fake birth certificate to the SSA people to obtain a legit SSN?! Do you know what penalties are in place for doing that?! Would you have the balls to actually go some place and ask for that?!

We've sure have heard about people from foreign countries (Mexico, being the obvious example) having an easy time submitting altered birth certificates (not totally fake, they just might have needed to change, e.g., their birth year, so that they'd fall within a certain age-limit in order to qualify for a particular benefit). In these cultures that's something quite 'doable', so to speak, with legal repercussions in case of detection being minuscule.

But not in the States!


sed cena

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Re: .....
« Reply #78 on: February 07, 2012, 04:38:04 PM »
Don't be stupid Incitatus - if there have been years and years by now, you're probably okay. I mean, who's gonna look up such a thing at this point in time, when the actual physical files have been destroyed?

K a r e n

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Re: .....
« Reply #79 on: February 24, 2012, 02:40:18 PM »

[...]

That petition would take years to mature into an actual green card, but we all were optimistic nevertheless; and there you have it - in April, my husband gets that notification letter from the NVC letting him know he had won the D-V lottery. From that point on, we were concerned that the Consular officer would accuse my husband during the interview for misrepresentation because of my hubby having claimed me arbitrarily as his wife on the NVC forms (initially in February when originally applied for, and then again in May) - given the fact that we only got the marriage license 4 months after he made the statements on the NVC forms (August). We remained anxious 'til the day of the interview, April of next year, but the Consular Officer was surprisingly over-friendly towards us, with him granting us the immigrant visas and without inquiring at all as to our marriage timing.

Truth-be-told, we were anxious also because we could not disclose to the Consular officer that the two of us had lived in a neighboring country for some time - my mother-in-law paid a friend of hers for us to be issued two brand-new passports, so that we did not have to show at all the neighboring country's entering visas we had gotten during the years on our old passports. We had been on and off illegally in that country, so we could not get clearances from that country's police for the time period we lived there. This is something that almost all the people who win the American green card lottery do - it's not smth we did to hide some kind of "major crime" committed or anything like that.

We were hearing that those people who admitted to the Consulate that they had been in other countries, besides their home country, were required to submit police clearances from those neighboring countries' authorities, something difficult and time-consuming, since we had also been there illegally - the way such a thing is handled in our native country is to simply pay the municipal employees for a new passport (easily accomplished and for not too much money) and then appear with the new passport before the Consular officer.

We also arranged for (fake) Employment Verification Letters where it was stated by (fake) employers that we had been employed in our home country (having had, thus, lived there all the time), so that it would appear that we had not been outside our home country at any time (to put it differently, we covered gaps in our employment history). These latter two are done regularly by almost all people who win the lottery in our country, and the consulate people themselves know deep down themselves that such things happen all too often.


Incitatus, what you mention in regard to your issue with the lottery application: It was my understanding that the DV "lottery" is as much "lottery" as apple is an orange. The people are selected for specific (political, ethnic, racial, and religious) reasons, and the state dept. is aware that most other cultures and countries have other values of certain moral issues. Little "white" lies are not significant enough to guarantee such a drastic punishment such as, say, "deportation."


You have done quite a few things, no doubt about it, but I'd like to let you know that,

There's a waiver, the Form I-601, Application for Waiver of Ground of Inadmissibility, is used by applicants for immigrant visas, non-immigrant fiancé visas, V visas, and adjustment of status to request a waiver of the following grounds of inadmissibility in the Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA) - should the ICE move ahead and try to deport the aliens:

  • Section 212(a)(1)   – health-related grounds;
  • Section 212(a)(2) – criminal and related grounds,
  • Section 212(a)(3)(D) - immigrant membership in a totalitarian party;
  • Section 212(a)(6)(C) – misrepresentation in immigration matters;
  • Section 212(a)(6)(E) - smugglers;
  • Section 212(a)(6)(F) - subject to civil penalty;
  • Section 212(a)(9)(B)   – unlawful presence in the U.S. for at least 180 days, beginning on or after April 1, 1997, followed by departure from the U.S.