For those who will go through the marriage petition process, the very end of the process comes at the interview for your green card. During the interview the immigration officer asks the beneficiary if they have ever lied to them for an immigration benefit. This question tends to come early on in the interview because anything said during the interview will then be taken into consideration regarding that question, by which they swore under oath that they have not done. The seriousness and consequence that this question poses can be applied even years after the interview happened.
Recently a client of ours was issued a Request for Documents from the USCIS field office that held the client’s marriage interview more than years ago. The request stated that our client was made inadmissible because it stated she misrepresented herself at the marriage interview when she said she worked for a company that was a “non-existent, fictitious shell company”. While this allegation was not true of our client, since they were never given the opportunity to rebut this claim it was required of us to file a hardship waiver to handle the inadmissible status of the client.
There are two issues to this situation that needed to be addressed, the first issue was the allegations against the client. The determination by USCIS that our client was inadmissible was not founded on any facts that had been challenged or questioned by immigration throughout the entire process. What occurred was that USCIS found out through its background checks of our clients work history that one of its employers ended up being a bad company and ended up folding. It concluded that because our client worked for the company, that it must have known the company was not a legitimate company and therefore lied about working for a legitimate company. All of these assumptions were never questioned during the marriage interview nor was a second interview issued to address what came up while the case was pending (for more than two years). Although the hardship waiver was needed in filing the response, the record needed to reflect that this was an egregious error on USCIS’ part since it neither gave our client nor her husband the chance to address the implied allegations laid against them. Despite the fact that our client had an approved petition from USCIS that was for the “non-existent, fictitious shell company”, they still implied by making her inadmissible that she must have had knowledge of their fraudulent practices. Our response to USCIS made it clear that no such proof exists and that without concrete evidence confirming her knowledge of their activities that she cannot be held accountable for their actions.
The second issue to address was the hardship waiver itself. Our client is the mother of two very young children, the stepmother to another child that her husband has full custody and shares time with his ex-wife, and another stepchild that her husband still provides financial support. Breaking up the family would make it impossible for our client’s husband to fulfill his duties to his child the ex-wife has custody of, would cause his ex-wife to gain full custody of the child he has custody of, and would split the family apart. The very young children they both have would have to go back to the home country because one was recently born when this “request” was sent by immigration. The family circumstances alone warrant consideration for approving the hardship waiver. If the client has to return home, one of her children will have to go with her while the other one may have to stay with her husband. These and other considerations were mentioned in the hardship waiver that had to be submitted in order to preserve the record in contesting this misapplication of law.
While it is unfortunate that the client has to deal these issues, there are still options to pursue no matter how the case turns out. The matter is far from over while this request has been responded to, since USCIS needs to address the issues that were raised and would likely need to do so if it denied the case. Since the entire situation stems from the statements made during a marriage interview, it is important to be honest and make sure the facts are clear and the right questions are asked and answered so these issues do not delay the processing of your case.