Thursday, July 7, 2011

Fraud Under U.S. Immigration Laws

It is important to understand the difference between the fraud and misrepresentation provisions governing applications for lawful permanent residence and those governing naturalization. As was pointed out in the recent case of Khawantmi v Department of Homeland Security, 2011 WL 577330 (D. Conn. 2011), these can lead to opposite results.

In this case, an alien was denied administrative naturalization upon two grounds: (1) that he presented “false testimony” in his naturalization proceedings because he did not disclose the existence of a “step-child,” and (2) that his legal permanent residency was “unlawfully procured” because it was obtained through a fraudulent marriage.

The district court, upon review of the administrative naturalization denial, held that the marriage was originally entered into with the intent to share a marital life together. This meant that the lawful permanent residence of the applicant was not “unlawfully procured,” despite the birth of an adulterine child during the marriage. On the other hand, the failure of the applicant to disclose the existence of the “step-child” (the child of his wife by another man), was held to be a deliberate attempt to mislead the government and to avoid further inquiry into the bona fides of the marriage.

The good moral character requirement of Sec. 101(f) of the INA for naturalization does not require any materiality, so that any misrepresentation, however immaterial, with the subjective intent to obtain an immigration benefit, will prevent a showing of good moral character. A misrepresentation in an application for lawful permanent residency, however, must be material to the decision in order for an alien to incur the penalty of perpetual inadmissibility under Sec. 212(a)(6)(C) of the Act.

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