On November 9, 2016 – several hours after Donald Trump gave his acceptance speech as U.S. President-elect – I received a telephone call from the U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) on a Motion to Vacate Expedited Removal Order I had filed on October 31st (only 9 days earlier). I had appealed to the CBP Field Office, which denied my client admission at the U.S. port of entry, to rescind the removal order and the charge that she willfully misrepresented material fact to gain entry into the U.S. as a visitor.
My client sought entry into the U.S. on a valid B1/B2 visitor visa, which she obtained six months before she married her U.S. citizen spouse. Following the marriage in her home country, she and her elderly parents arrived at an international U.S. airport for a temporary visit. Her American spouse also accompanied them on their first trip to the U.S.
Her plan was to tour the U.S. with her parents and get accustomed to the American lifestyle and culture before she returned to her home country to start the marriage-based immigrant visa process. They had return airline tickets to leave the U.S. within two weeks.
At primary inspection, she and her parents presented the proper travel documents (valid passports) and entry documents (unexpired 10-year, B1/B2 visitor visas) to the CBP officer. While her parents were admitted as visitors, she was pulled into secondary inspection.
During secondary inspection, the CBP officer questioned her about the purpose of her trip. She explained the temporary nature of her visit and, while she was reaching for her return airline ticket, the officer took her personal belongings and searched through them.
Among her personal belongings was a folder containing several documents. In the folder, the CBP officer found two letters from an employer in her home country that were contradictory. The first letter stated she had resigned from her position, indicating she was no longer employed. The second letter stated she was on a leave of absence, implying she still had a job.
She immediately clarified that the second letter contained false information and she had in fact resigned from her job. She described her plans to return to her home country on time and later apply for an immigrant visa, based on her marriage to a U.S. citizen.
Instead of allowing her to withdraw her application for admission due to lack of a proper visa, the CBP detained and interrogated her for at least five hours. She was questioned by two CBP officers until her Sworn Statement was taken about eight hours after she arrived at the airport.
Using a Form I-867A & B, Record of Sworn Statement in Proceedings under Section 235(b)(1) of the Act, the CBP officer documented her testimony in a question and answer format. My client signed the Sworn Statement and initialed each page without fully reading or understanding the contents.
The CBP issued a Form I-860, Notice and Order of Expedited Removal Order, finding her inadmissible, denying her entry, and ordering her expeditiously removed on two counts. The first charge was under INA 212(a)(7)(A)(i)(I), i.e. lack of proper travel documents. The second (and more serious) charge was under INA 212(a)(6)(C)(i), i.e. fraud or willful misrepresentation of material fact to gain admission into the U.S. by presenting a fake letter.
My client was sent back to her country the following day on the next available flight. Her spouse and parents booked airline tickets and returned there as well. A week later, she and her spouse completed a video consultation with me via Skype.
In the consultation, I explained that the expedited removal order, by itself, subjects you to a 5-year bar to reentry. And a charge of fraud/willful misrepresentation under section 212(a)(6)(C)(i) furthers bars you permanently from entering the U.S.
I described the two main options to immigrate to the U.S. following an expedited removal order with a misrepresentation charge.
Option A is to submit a Motion to Vacate the Expedited Removal Order to the CBP Field Office that issued the order. Because this request is, in essence, a motion to reopen or reconsider to the Service, the CBP must receive it within 30 days of the date of the order.
Option A is available if the applicant has factual grounds and legal claims to challenge the CBP’s determination that she is inadmissible to the U.S. and must be expeditiously removed from the U.S.
Option B is to file an I-212, application for permission to reapply for admission after removal, to overcome the 5-year bar. Plus file an I-601, application for INA 212(i) waiver of inadmissibility, to be excused from the section 212(a)(6)(C)(i) charge – a permanent bar. Both waivers must be filed in conjunction with the immigrant visa application, and are typically submitted at or after the visa interview.
Option B is available if the applicant meets the eligibility requirements for the I-212 waiver and I-601 waiver. To get the I-212 waiver, the applicant must have favorable factors (e.g. close family ties in the U.S.) that outweigh the unfavorable factors (e.g. bad moral character). To receive the I-601 waiver, the applicant needs a qualifying relative (i.e. U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse or parent) who will suffer extreme hardship if she is not admitted to the U.S.
The foreign national and her American spouse chose Option A as their primary solution, and Option B as their backup plan. Both options require strong documentary evidence, favorable facts, and persuasive legal arguments for an approval to be possible.
During the next three weeks that followed the consultation, I counseled my client and her spouse on the documentary evidence to gather for the request to vacate expedited removal order. The evidence demonstrated the temporary nature of the planned visit, my client’s ongoing ties to her home country, and her and her spouse’s good moral character.
Furthermore, I reviewed the Sworn Statement and Notice and Order of Expedited Removal Order, the agency’s policy manual, and applicable case law to formulate the strongest legal arguments to support the motion.
In the Motion to Expedite Removal Order, I noted that my client had proper travel documents in the form of an unexpired passport and valid visitor visa. I argued she was not inadmissible under INA 212(a)(7)(A)(i)(I) because it was appropriate for her to travel to the U.S. on a valid B1/B2 visa for a temporary visit, even though she was married to a U.S. citizen.
In addition, I explained why the CBP made an error by making a willful misrepresentation charge under INA 212(a)(6)(C)(i). I pointed out that my client did not affirmatively provide the fake leave of absence letter to the CBP officer, who found it during his search of her personal belongings. I added that even if she had misrepresented a material fact, she timely recanted it by admitting the letter contained wrong information and clarifying she was unemployed in her home country.
I pointed out the CBP should have at least given her the opportunity to withdraw her application for admission, rather than issue an expedited removal order that subjected her not only to a 5-year bar, but also to a permanent bar.
The normal processing time for a Motion to Vacate Expedited Removal Order is 6 months. To my pleasant surprise, it took less than 10 days for CBP to review the motion and make a decision in this case.
Four days after the CBP Field Office received the motion, a CBP officer telephoned me to convey they were taking the request into serious consideration.
On November 9th, which was 9 days after receiving the motion, the Watch Commander at the CBP Field Office called to say he would vacate the expedited removal order and treat the case as a withdrawal of application for admission to the U.S. He noted that my client was no longer barred from entering the U.S.
The foreign national no longer has a 5-year bar to reentry due to the removal order or a permanent bar to reentry due to the willful misrepresentation charge. She now readily qualifies for a marriage-based immigrant visa without needing any waivers of inadmissibility.
The rescission of the removal order and dismissal of the section 212(a)(6)(C)(i) charge means my client will not need an I-212 waiver or I-601 waiver to get the immigrant visa. This will make it significantly easier and faster for her to immigrate to the U.S. (because waiver requests often take 6 to 12 months to be adjudicated).
My client, her spouse and I communicated by Skype, telephone and email. They decided to hire me upon completing the initial video consultation, in which I laid out a strategy and action plan to resolve their immigration predicament.
Although we never met in person, we worked together effectively to create a desired and expeditious outcome. I continue to represent them in their I-130 immigrant petition and immigrant visa process.
The speedy approval of the request to vacate expedited removal order and dismissal of the misrepresentation charge is a true success story in 2016 for Dyan Williams Law PLLC.
I enjoy taking on challenging cases in which foreign nationals seek to enter the U.S. lawfully as an immigrant or nonimmigrant, after they have been found inadmissible or issued an expedited removal order. Getting I-212, I-601 and 212(d)(3) waivers are among my top areas of expertise.
Under the new administration – which begins on January 20, 2017, and is expected to be more hardline on immigration – lawful entries into the U.S. will be more critical than ever.
Founder & Principal Attorney
Dyan Williams Law PLLC
This article provides general information only. It is based on law, regulations and policy that are subject to change. Do not consider it as legal advice for any individual case or situation. Each legal case is different and case examples do not constitute a prediction or guarantee of success or failure in any other case. The sharing or receipt of this information does not create an attorney-client relationship.
Photo by: Ian D. Keating