Immigrants sometimes find themselves in Removal proceedings and facing deportation from the United States because they have obtained their green cards through fraud or by making a misrepresentation. A common example is when an unmarried person is petitioned for their green card by their parent, who is a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. If the person being petitioned gets married, the effect is that the approved petition from their parent is automatically revoked because of the marriage.
Many people know about the immigration consequences to their marriage, so they frequently have a “secret wedding” and thereafter lie to the U.S. Embassy about their marital status when they are applying for their immigrant visa. Our client, who we will refer to as Bongbong to protect his privacy, did this exact thing.
Bongbong’s immigration story started in the Philippines in 1981 when his father filed a petition for him so that he could immigrate to the U.S. Bongbong’s father was a lawful permanent resident when he filed the petition. His father told him that he cannot get married; he needs to stay single until a visa number is available to him as the unmarried son of a green card holder.
Despite his father’s advice though, Bongbong was ready to start a family after finding his true love in the Philippines. Being raised in the Catholic faith, Bongbong’s girlfriend refused to live together without the benefit of marriage. Bongbong proposed, they got married, and they started a lovely family together. When his visa became available, Bongbong was conflicted whether to procced with the process or not. He ultimately decided to go through with the process and move to the U.S. because he knew it was his best opportunity to provide his family with a better life. He did not disclose his marriage on his application or at his personal interview at the U.S. Embassy in Manila because he knew it would make him ineligible for a visa.
Bongbong received his immigrant visa in 1988. He was happy to be reunited with his parents in the U.S., but he deeply missed his wife and children in the Philippines. He stayed in close contact with them through regular phone calls, e-mails, and letters, and even returned home to the Philippines every year to visit them. But this was not enough for Bongbong, so he became determined to reunite his family in the U.S.
Bongbong decided to remarry his wife in the Philippines in 1991. He then filed a petition for his wife so that she could immigrate to the U.S. Bongbong also filed an application to become a naturalized U.S. citizen, but he did not disclose his prior marriage or his children on the application. It was at this time that all of Bongbong’s frauds and misrepresentations were discovered – the U.S. Embassy in Manila refused to issue immigrant visas to his family and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services denied his application for U.S. citizenship. And even worse, the Department of Homeland Security initiated deportation proceedings against Bongbong.
Bongbong retained Reeves Immigration Law Group to represent him in immigration court. After a conference with Bongbong, Attorney Flomy Diza, a partner at Reeves Immigration Law Group, advised Bongbong that he was eligible to apply for a waiver of his prior fraud. Attorney Diza explained to Bongbong that this waiver was available for immigrants who already had their green cards. If his waiver was granted, Bongbong’s prior misrepresentations would be forgiven, and he could move on with his life . . . and even become a U.S. citizen and reunite with his wife and children in the U.S.
Attorney Diza explained to Bongbong that he would only be granted his waiver if they were able to convince an immigration judge that Bongbong should be granted a favorable exercise of discretion. Attorney Diza helped Bongbong prepare the documents that would be necessary to win his case – a detailed declaration acknowledging his mistake, copies of prior tax returns that Bongbong filed, proof of his community involvement, his dedication to achieving a successful career, etc.
We are now happy to say that an Immigration Judge in San Francisco has recently granted Bongbong his requested waiver under Section 237(a)(1)(H) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Attorney Diza was even able to get the case approved without Bongbong having to testify; it was approved based solely on the documents that had been submitted to the court.
Bongbong is thrilled that he can now become a U.S. citizen, and finally reunite his whole family here in the U.S.