By Amanda Kwong
Filing applications for immigration benefits that contain false information may result in a lifetime bar from getting a green card . . . unless you can get a waiver of your prior fraud. It may take time, even decades, but do not give up your dreams of becoming a U.S. citizen.
Ms. T entered the United States in 1987 as a tourist. She was young and came to visit places like Disneyland. Eventually, she realized she wanted to stay in the U.S. for the opportunity to have a better life. So she overstayed the period authorized on her visa. In the late 1980s, after hearing stories about obtaining legal immigration status through an amnesty program, she hired someone to help her with the paper work. Since she did not actually meet the requirements, the agent put false information in her application. Not surprisingly, the application was denied.
Still without lawful immigration status, Ms. T talked to another individual about legalizing her status in the early 1990s. Ms. T was under the impression that all she had to do was pay the person to file the papers for her and she would receive an Employment Authorization Document (work permit). However, Ms. T was actually filing an asylum application that contained a completely fabricated story. Again, not surprisingly, the application was also denied.
In 2001, Ms. T’s mom, a lawful permanent resident at the time, filed a petition for her under the F-2B category (Unmarried Child of a Permanent Resident, Over 21). In 2012, Ms. T attended an interview at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) in connection with an application for adjustment of status, at which time she took ownership of the previous false statements she had made on other applications. Ms. T truly regretted lying and wanted to start fresh by telling the truth. But because of the false statements, Ms. T would need a waiver of her prior fraud before she could be issued her green card. Unfortunately, USCIS denied Ms. T’s request for a waiver because she was unable to demonstrate sufficient hardship to her family in the U.S.
Ms. T was eventually placed in deportation proceedings before an Immigration Judge. She retained Reeves Immigration Law Group to represent her in court. Ms. T’s case was rescheduled several times due to the court’s busy calendar, but finally, on August 22, 2019, Ms. T had her day in court at the San Francisco Immigration Court. Attorney Amanda Kwong had prepared Ms. T and her mom for the entire process, including questions they may be asked by the government attorney and by the Immigration Judge.
During the hearing, Ms. T and her U.S. citizen mom testified regarding their life circumstances: medical, financial, and emotional hardships. The Immigration Judge found that, in totality, Ms. T’s mom would suffer extreme hardship if she was to remain in the U.S. without Ms. T, or even if she accompanied Ms. T to her native country. The Immigration Judge also found that Ms. T, in accepting responsibility for her prior indiscretions, showed genuine regret for her prior mistakes.
We are now happy to say that, after more than three decades in the U.S., Ms. T is finally a lawful permanent resident. Ms. T has been living in fear over the last few years, especially at the thought of leaving the life she established for herself behind. But now, Ms. T is ecstatic! She can lawfully live and work in the United States. She is thrilled to be able to remain with her mom and continue to take care of her in the U.S. She also looks forward to applying for U.S. citizenship in five years.