Category Archives: immigration fraud

Work Permit Fraud May Lead to Visa Revocation, Visa Denial and INA 212(a)(6)(C)(i) Inadmissibility

On June 26, Weiyun “Kelly” Huang, owner of the fictitious companies, Findream LLC and Sinocontech LLC, was sentenced to 37 months in federal prison for conspiracy to commit visa fraud. Her companies provided false employment verification records to foreign nationals seeking F-1 or H-1B visa status.

The U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) played a key role in the investigation, which created ripple effects on persons who received F-1 or H-1B work authorization by presenting a job offer letter, payroll records or other employment verification documents from Findream or Sinocontech.

F-1 and H-1B Work Authorization Requires Legitimate Employment

An F-1 visa allows an international student to study in the United States at a university or other academic institution.  F students may engage in practical training during their academic program or after it ends. Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT) are the two types of training that provide work experience related to the field of study.

Eligible students may apply for up to 12 months of OPT employment authorization before completing their academic studies (pre-completion) and/or after completing their academic studies (post-completion). All periods of pre-completion OPT, however, are deducted from the available period of post-completion OPT.

The OPT employment can be part time (at least 20 hours per week on post-completion OPT) or full time; involve multiple short-term employers, contract work, self-employment, or agency work; and be paid or unpaid (as a volunteer or intern, as long as labor laws are not violated). The student must report all employment to their Designated School Official (DSO) to maintain status.

While a job offer is not required to apply for OPT, the student may not have a cumulative total of 90 days of unemployment during the 12-month OPT period. Otherwise, they fall out of status and begin to accrue unlawful presence.

Students may apply for an additional 24 months of OPT if they have a degree and are employed in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics) field. For the 24-month STEM OPT extension, the DSO requires the student to have an existing job offer from a U.S. employer and to submit a completed Form I-983 (training plan) that is signed by the student and employer.

Section 3 to Section 6 on the Form I-983 requests information on the company, the agreed-upon practical training schedule and compensation, and the formal training plan, respectively. Unlike regular OPT employment, STEM OPT employment must be paid.

An H-1B visa allows U.S.-based employers to temporarily employ foreign nationals in specialty occupations. Foreign nationals with H-1B status may stay in the U.S. for three years, with the possibility of extending their stay for a total of six years. H-1B status may be extended beyond the six-year limit in certain situations, such as when 365 days or more have passed since the filing of an application for labor certification or immigrant petition (Form I-140) for the beneficiary.

F-1 students with a timely filed H-1B petition and change of status request, and whose F-1 employment authorization will expire before the change of status to H-1B occurs (typically October 1), may be eligible for a cap-gap extension in the United States. In many cases, the OPT employment or STEM OPT employment is what allows the F-1 student to change to H-1B status without departing for visa processing at the U.S. Consulate.

ICE Investigations of Work Permit Fraud Schemes Continue

ICE’s crackdown on F-1 and H-1B visa fraud schemes spell trouble for international students and foreign national workers who use fake job offers to obtain F-1 OPT, F-1 STEM OPT, F-1 CPT, or H-1B status.

ICE may conduct on-site visits to confirm the visa holder is actually working for the employer and performing the appropriate duties. When little-known companies like Findream and Sinocontech show a high number of F-1 OPT and STEM OPT workers, this can prompt further investigation.

In March 2019, the United States filed a criminal complaint against the owner of Findream, with an affidavit from an FBI Special Agent stating it was a company on paper only, with no actual physical presence, and was created for the purpose of providing false verifications of employment to F-1 visa holders seeking to extend their stay in the U.S. via the OPT program.

The indictment stated that Huang advertised Findream as a “startup company in technology services and consulting,” with clients in China and the U.S.  She used a China-based website, “Chinese Looking for Job,” and a China-based WeChat platform, “Job Hunters of North America,” to advertise Findream and Sinocontech to F-1 visa holders in the U.S. seeking employment and H-1B visas.

The companies did not deliver any technology or consulting services, or employ any of the individuals who responded to the ads, the indictment stated. In exchange for a fee, Huang and the companies provided job offer letters and employment verification letters as proof of employment, the charges alleged. Falsified payroll records and tax forms were also said to be provided.

According to the indictment, the fraud scheme allowed at least 2,685 customers to list Findream or Sinocontech as their employer to extend their F-1 status. Subsequently, many F-1 and H-1B visa holders, particularly from China, had their visas revoked or denied or were refused entry to the United States (following travel abroad) because they had listed Findream or Sinocontech to receive work authorization.

These types of ICE investigations are ongoing. Recent reports indicate that F-1 students, most from India, have received notifications from U.S. Consulates that their visas have been revoked because they used job offer letters from Integra Technologies LLC and AZTech Technologies LLC to obtain OPT, STEM OPT and, in some cases, CPT work permits.

Through direct contact and consultations with applicants, we have also learned that F-1 and H-1B visa holders are being refused admission at the U.S. port of entry if they previously held work authorization by claiming they were employed by these companies. Expedited removal orders and lifetime inadmissibility charges of fraud or misrepresentation are being made by CBP for this reason.

Data from ICE shows that Integra Technologies and AZTech Technologies were 2nd and 6th, respectively, on the list of Top 200 Employers for OPT and STEM OPT Students, which includes well-known companies like Amazon, Intel, Google, Microsoft, Deloite, Facebook and Apple. (NOTE: At least two other companies, Wireclass and Aandwill LLC, have been linked with Integra and AzTech.)

Fraud or Willful Misrepresentation of Material Fact to Obtain U.S. Immigration Benefits is a Permanent Inadmissibility Ground

Federal agencies including ICE and USCIS have made it a priority to deter and detect immigration fraud and have increased site visits, interviews, and investigations of petitioners who use the F-1 OPT and H-1B visa programs. One reason is to protect the “many American workers who are as qualified, willing, and deserving to work in these fields have been ignored or unfairly disadvantaged,” according to the agencies.

Submitting a bogus job offer letter, employment verification letter, payroll records or other documents to maintain or obtain F-1 or H-1B status creates the risk of a visa revocation or visa refusal. It may also lead to the denial of admission and an expedited removal order at the U.S. port of entry.

Whether the F-1 or H-1B visa holder knowingly pays a company for false employment verification is sometimes unclear. The pattern involves the company initiating contact with the beneficiary and requesting payment of a “training fee” at the outset. The job offer or training program might seem real in the beginning. But at some point, it becomes obvious there is no real job.

Persons who claim to have a legitimate job offer to gain an F-1 extension or H-1B status — when there is actually no job — are subject to being found permanently inadmissible. When you present false employment verification records to show you performed job duties and got paid for such duties (in order to receive a visa or lawful status in the United States) you risk being charged with a lifetime inadmissibility ban under INA 212(a)(6)(C)(i)(fraud or willful misrepresentation of material facts to gain U.S. immigration benefits).

In unique situations, the person may challenge a section 212(a)(6)(C)(i) bar by filing a formal motion to reconsider with the appropriate agency, such as CBP or the U.S. Consulate. In most cases, the person will need a 212(d)(3) nonimmigrant waiver or Form I-601/INA 212(i) immigrant waiver.

The 212(d)(3) waiver has relatively flexible eligibility standards, which includes addressing the risk of harm to society if the person is admitted to the United States, the magnitude of the U.S. immigration violation that caused the inadmissibility, and the importance of seeking the visa. The Form I-601 waiver has stricter requirements because the person must have a qualifying relative (U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse or parent) who will suffer extreme hardship if the person is not admitted to the United States.

If you are caught up in or benefited from an F-1 or H-1B visa fraud scheme, consult a qualified U.S. immigration attorney to discuss possible remedies. Ongoing and willful participation in the scheme might seem like a victimless offense, but it carries serious and permanent U.S. immigration consequences.

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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.

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U.S. Consulate Rescinds INA 212(a)(6)(C)(i) Charge and Grants B1/B2 Visa: A True Success Story

Within 3 months of receiving our Motion to Reconsider and Rescind Inadmissibility Finding Under INA 212(a)(6)(C)(i) with Request for B1/B2 Visitor Visa, the U.S. Consulate granted the visa to our client without requiring a 212(d)(3) waiver of inadmissibility. After he had been denied the visitor visa on three separate occasions over a 12-year period, the applicant sought our counsel to overcome the 212(a)(6)(C)(i) bar and get the visa.

The applicant’s visa problems began after he was denied re-entry by U.S. Customs as a visitor. At the time, he had been attending high school in the United States on a B1/B2 visitor visa. Unique circumstances led him to believe he did not need a student visa as long as he did not overstay his authorized visits.

In his last request for entry, he was specifically asked about the purpose of his visit. He admitted he had been attending high school in the United States and was seeking to complete his studies. The U.S. Customs informed him he needed a student visa and could not attend school during a B1/B2 visit. Although he was allowed to withdraw his application for admission, his visa was cancelled.

Three years later, the applicant sought a visitor visa for temporary recreational stays in the United States. The U.S. Embassy denied his first two requests under INA 214(b), i.e. failure to overcome the presumption of immigrant intent to be eligible for a visitor visa.

Ten years later, the applicant sought the visitor visa again. After placing the case in administrative processing, the U.S. Embassy issued a visa refusal notice under INA 212(a)(6)(C)(i)(fraud or willful misrepresentation of material fact to obtain a U.S. immigration benefit).

The factual basis for the section 212(a)(6)(C)(i) charge was not specified. But it was reasonable to assume it stemmed from his attending high school in the U.S. while in B1/B2 visitor status.

When a person engages in conduct that is inconsistent with the terms and conditions of his visa (especially within 90 days of his admission), the U.S. consular officer may presume he willfully misrepresented the true purpose of the visit. The applicant then has to rebut the presumption of misrepresentation.

In this case, the applicant violated the terms of his visitor visa by attending school. But, at the time, he was a minor (under age 18) and relied heavily on his parents to make decisions on his behalf.

The family had been in the United States on another type of visa that allowed school attendance and a longer stay. Based on discussions with the school district, the parents mistakenly assumed their son could continue his studies on a visitor visa, as long as he departed the United States every six months, before the expiration date of each authorized visit.

To deal with the INA 212(a)(6)(C)(i) finding, the applicant contacted me for a Skype consultation. I confirmed his ultimate objective was to receive a B1/B2 visa for business trips and recreational visits, including spending time with his U.S. citizen brother.

Prior to entering a representation agreement, we discussed whether to (a) request the U.S. Embassy vacate the INA 212(a)(6)(C)(i) finding or (b) apply for a 212(d)(3) waiver of inadmissibility. Given his young age at the time he attended school on the B1/B2 visa and the Record of Sworn Statement reflecting he declared this fact to U.S. Customs in his last request for entry, both options were viable. Ultimately, he chose option (a).

I advised the client on the information and documents to present to show he did not commit fraud or willfully misrepresent the purpose of his visit each time he was admitted to the United States on the B1/B2 visa, and then attended school. Furthermore, I counseled him on how to demonstrate strong ties to his residence abroad to overcome the presumption of immigrant intent under INA 214(b), which is necessary to qualify for the visitor visa itself.

In addition, I wrote a legal memorandum explaining the factual grounds and legal basis for the Motion to Reconsider and Rescind Inadmissibility Finding Under INA 212(a)(6)(C)(i) with Request for B1/B2 Visitor Visa. I also prepared the client for what to expect at the visa interview and how to best present his case.

At the B1/B2 visa interview, the U.S. Consulate accepted the legal memorandum and the written testimonies of the applicant and his U.S. citizen brother in support of the Motion to Reconsider. The U.S. consular officer noted the case was complicated and had to be placed in administrative processing.

Three months later, the U.S. Consulate issued the B1/B2 visitor visa and made it valid for 10 years. The section 212(a)(6)(C)(i) bar was lifted, so there was no need for a 212(d)(3) waiver. A “clearance received” annotation was placed on the visa to further indicate his case was resolved.

After three prior failed attempts in which he did not have counsel, the applicant finally received the B1/B2 visa with our representation.

This is a true success story.

Cheers,

Dyan Williams

Founder & Principal Attorney
Dyan Williams Law PLLC
(612) 225-9900
info@dyanwilliamslaw.com

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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.

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U.S. Embassy Vacates INA 212(a)(6)(C)(i) Charge and Issues Immigrant Visa: A True Success Story

After initially refusing our request to vacate the INA 212(a)(6)(C)(i) charge against our client, the U.S. Embassy reconsidered its decision and issued the Immigrant Visa. Persistent follow-ups led to the applicant being cleared of the inadmissibility bar and receiving the visa for admission as a permanent resident. No Form I-601 waiver was needed because the Embassy dislodged the INA 212(a)(6)(C)(i) finding it made in error.

Two years before attending his Immigrant Visa interview, the applicant had sought a K-1 fiance visa at the U.S. Embassy, based on his then-engagement to a U.S. citizen. At the K-1 visa interview, the U.S. consular officer determined his relationship with the K-1 petitioner was not genuine, but entered into solely for U.S. immigration benefits.

The Embassy returned the approved Form I-129F petition to USCIS for further review and revocation. Instead of issuing a Notice of Intent to Revoke, USCIS issued a termination notice almost 6 months later stating the 4-month validity period on the Form I-129F approval notice had expired, but the U.S. citizen fiance may file a new petition for the applicant. By that point, they had ended their relationship and called off the engagement. No further evidence was submitted to prove the bona fide nature of the relationship.

Prior to the K-1 visa application, our client’s mother had filed a Form I-130 immigrant petition for him. USCIS approved the petition within five months, but he had to wait several years for the priority date to become current so he could apply for an Immigrant Visa.

At his Immigrant Visa Interview, he received a refusal worksheet charging him with INA 212(a)(6)(C)(i), as an applicant who sought to procure a visa by fraud or willful misrepresentation of a material fact. The Embassy noted that in adjudicating his K-1 fiance visa application, the relationship was found to not be credible.

Following the Immigrant Visa refusal due to fraud/willful misrepresentation, a close relative of the applicant contacted me for a consultation. After confirming the relationship with the K-1 petitioner was genuine but just did not work out, I agreed to represent the applicant and his mother (the Form I-130 petitioner).

I explained the applicant had the option to file a Form I-601 waiver application, as instructed by the U.S. Embassy. To get this waiver, he needed to prove to USCIS that his mother would suffer extreme hardships if he were denied admission to the United States. The long processing time and the high evidentiary standards made this a challenging path to take. The I-601 filing fee of $930 was also a factor to consider.

Because the applicant had proof of a bona fide relationship with the K-1 petitioner that was not previously submitted to USCIS or to the U.S. Consulate — and USCIS never revoked the Form I-129F approval but instead issued a termination notice — I counseled the applicant on another option, i.e. file a Motion to Reconsider and Rescind Inadmissibility Finding Under INA 212(a)(6)(C)(i) with Request for Immigrant Visa directly with the U.S. Embassy. The applicant and his family decided to go with the Motion instead of the I-601 application.

It took several months for the applicant and his family to gather all the written testimonies and documents I had recommended they provide to support the Motion to Reconsider. With this evidence and my legal memorandum arguing how the INA 212(a)(6)(C)(i) charge was made in error, I filed a request with the U.S. Embassy to reconsider the inadmissibility finding and grant the Immigrant Visa.

Upon its first review of our Motion to Reconsider and Rescind Inadmissibility Finding, the Embassy sent a reply within a week, in which it stated the applicant made a material misrepresentation in a prior K-1 visa application and was permanently ineligible to receive a visa. It added it would not accept any further evidence or appeal regarding the visa application and instructed the applicant to file for an I-601 waiver of inadmissibility.

Two weeks later, with the applicant’s consent, I submitted a Request for Supervisory Review to the U.S. Embassy, asking it to confirm whether the Motion to Reconsider was duly reviewed and highlighting the errors in the inadmissibility finding. The Embassy replied it was reviewing my inquiry and there was no guarantee on how long it would take to get a response. It again instructed the applicant to file for an I-601 waiver.

After months of waiting and sending follow-up inquiries, we finally received a response from the U.S. Embassy stating it had completed a supervisory review to reconsider this case and there has been no change to the original officer’s adjudication. It noted the applicant may file for a waiver.

A few weeks later, I filed a Request for Advisory Opinion with the Visa Office (U.S.Department of State’s Office of Legal Affairs in the Directorate of Visa Services). In particular, I asked them to review the legal question regarding whether the U.S. Embassy properly applied INA 212(a)(6)(C)(i) when it denied the Immigrant Visa in this case. I provided them with a copy of the Motion to Reconsider, including the legal memorandum and supporting evidence. The Visa Office responded it had followed up on my inquiry and the case was under review.

Several months later, the Visa Office sent an update that the U.S. Embassy provided instructions to the applicant to proceed with his Immigrant Visa application. The Embassy instructed him to submit an updated Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, and financial support documents. It further requested he complete a DNA test to verify the biological relationship with his mother (the Form I-130 petitioner).

After complying with the U.S. Embassy’s instructions, the applicant finally received his Immigrant Visa. He was admitted to the United States as a lawful permanent resident to join his mother and other close relatives who were eagerly waiting for this reunion.

This is a true success story.

Cheers,

Dyan Williams

Founder & Principal Attorney
Dyan Williams Law PLLC
(612) 225-9900
info@dyanwilliamslaw.com

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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 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.

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U.S. Consulate Lifts INA 212(a)(6)(C)(i) Bar and Grants Immigrant Visa: A True Success Story

Within 21 days of receiving our Request for Supervisory Review of Immigrant Visa Refusal and Renewed Motion to Reconsider and Rescind Inadmissibility Finding under INA 212(a)(6)(C)(i), the U.S. Consulate removed the lifetime bar and instructed our client to continue the immigrant visa process. Ultimately, he received his Immigrant Visa after the new police certificate and updated proof of his U.S. citizen petitioner’s U.S. domicile and financial support were provided. Because the U.S. Consulate agreed to lift the fraud charge, no Form I-601, Application for Waiver of Inadmissibility, was required.

Born stateless, the applicant used to hold a refugee travel document that contained a visitor visa when he was a child. After he acquired citizenship in a country where he was not born, the applicant used the new passport to obtain a second visitor visa and traveled to the United States for a temporary recreational stay.

Despite being married to a U.S. citizen, he complied with the terms of his visitor visa and did not overstay the authorized period or apply for a marriage-based green card within the United States. Based on the approved Form I-130 immigrant petition filed by his U.S. citizen wife, he sought to become a permanent resident through an Immigrant Visa application at the U.S. Consulate overseas.

At the initial Immigrant Visa interview, the applicant presented his passport for visa stamping. About two months later, the U.S. Consulate conducted a re-interview in which it asked about the process he used to acquire the citizenship and obtain the passport. He explained the legal channels he used to get both. Nonetheless, the U.S. Consulate charged him with section 212(a)(6)(C)(i)(fraud/willful misrepresentation of material fact to gain a U.S. immigration benefit), upon noting it was unable to verify his acquired citizenship or the authenticity of the passport when it contacted the government authorities.

The U.S. Consulate instructed him to file a Form I-601, Application for Waiver of Inadmissibility, to be excused from the inadmissibility charge. A section 212(a)(6)(C)(i) finding prohibits applicants from receiving an Immigrant Visa without first getting an I-601 approval from USCIS.

Two months after the visa refusal, the applicant contacted me for the first time to discuss his options. In our Skype (video) consultation, I explained that one solution was to file a Form I-601 application, as the U.S. Consulate instructed. To receive the waiver, he would need to prove the extreme hardships his U.S. citizen wife would suffer if he is denied entry to the United States as a permanent resident. I noted there is never any guarantee the waiver will be granted due to the high standard of proof and the discretion involved in the decision-making.

I further pointed out that if he did not commit fraud or willfully misrepresent material facts to gain the prior B1/B2 visitor visa, the Immigrant Visa, or any other U.S. immigration benefit, he could file a Motion to Reconsider and Rescind Inadmissibility Finding with the U.S. Consulate. If such a motion is granted and the section 212(a)(6)(C)(i) bar is lifted, the I-601 waiver is not required for the visa to be issued.

The client opted to go with the request to reconsider the inadmissibility charge. After we entered into a representation agreement, I counseled him on the information and documents he needed to present to show he did not engage in fraud or willfully misrepresent material facts to receive any U.S. immigration benefit.

To support the Motion to Reconsider, I prepared a legal memorandum describing how the applicant used proper channels to obtain the passport and why the submission of this passport to the U.S. Consulate was actually immaterial to his eligibility for the Immigrant Visa, as well as the prior visitor visas he received.

Five days after receiving the Motion to Reconsider, the U.S. Consulate issued a response stating the section 212(a)(6)(C)(i) bar would remain and the applicant needed to file for an I-601 waiver. The Consulate noted the applicant had no concrete evidence to support his explanation on how he acquired the citizenship. The Consulate added that during its checks with the government authorities, it was determined beyond reasonable doubt the applicant misrepresented his case and deliberately provided false information and documents to receive an immigration benefit. They added he did not rescind his false statements when given the opportunity to do so.

In the Request for Supervisory Review and Renewed Motion to Reconsider and Rescind Inadmissibility Finding, I stressed the important points the U.S. Consulate missed when it issued the response affirming the section 212(a)(6)(C)(i) charge.

In reply to this Request and Renewed Motion, the U.S. Consulate sent a response 21 days later stating the section 212(a)(6)(C)(i) charge had been lifted. Five months later — following the completion of administrative processing — my client received the Immigrant Visa to join his wife in the United States, without needing to file for and obtain an I-601 waiver.

This is a true success story.

Cheers,

Dyan Williams

Founder & Principal Attorney
Dyan Williams Law PLLC
(612) 225-9900
info@dyanwilliamslaw.com

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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 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.

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Reversal of INA 204(c)/Marriage Fraud Finding + Approval of I-130 and I-485 = A True Success Story

On appeal, a USCIS Field Office reconsidered and reversed its denial of our U.S. citizen client’s Form I-130 petition for her spouse under INA 204(c), which is commonly known as the marriage fraud bar. The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) has authority to review such decisions, but USCIS chose to vacate the section 204(c) bar on its own and approve the petition without a BIA order. In addition, the spouse was granted a green card based on his concurrently filed Form I-485 application for permanent resident status. These favorable decisions were made within three months of our filing the Notice of Appeal and within two months of our submitting the legal memorandum to support the appeal.

Beneficiary’s File is Flagged Due to USCIS’ Denial of Prior I-130 Petition by Previous U.S. Citizen Spouse

Section 204(c) of the Immigration & Nationality Act states that no petition may be approved if the beneficiary was previously accorded, or sought to be accorded, an immediate relative or preference status as the spouse of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, through a sham marriage, i.e. a marriage determined by USCIS to have been entered into for the purpose of evading U.S. immigration laws.

In our clients’ case, the beneficiary was previously married to another U.S. citizen who filed a prior I-130 petition for him. They completed two different interviews with USCIS over a two-year period. They were separated and asked various questions about their courtship and marriage, from which USCIS listed a total of five discrepancies between their answers.

USCIS investigators also went to their shared residence when neither of them was present. The petitioner’s mother – who lived with them – was at the home when the officers arrived. She confirmed the couple resided there with her, but the officers found very few personal items belonging to the beneficiary. Through further investigations, USCIS discovered the beneficiary was the lessee of a separate apartment and determined that he lived there instead of with the petitioner.

With the help of prior counsel, the petitioner and beneficiary submitted a Response to the Notice of Intent to Deny the I-130 petition, in which they described the reasons for the discrepancies at the interview, confirmed they lived together, and explained the separate apartment under the beneficiary’s name was being subleased to another person.

Three months after receiving the Response to the NOID, USCIS denied the I-130 petition based on the discrepancies at the interviews and their investigations from which they determined the beneficiary did not live with the petitioner. The evidence filed with the Response was disregarded. The decision was not appealed because the marriage fell apart and the parties ultimately divorced.

Beneficiary Faces INA 204(c)/Marriage Fraud Bar in Subsequent I-130 Petition by Second U.S. Citizen Spouse

Following his divorce from his first U.S. citizen spouse, the beneficiary entered into marriage to another U.S. citizen, who filed an I-130 petition for him about 18 months after the prior petition was denied. After interviewing the couple, USCIS issued a Notice of Intent to Deny the petition a year later.

In the Notice of Intent to Deny, USCIS acknowledged the couple’s marriage is bona fide and cited to no discrepancies between their testimonies at the interview. The Service, however, pointed out the beneficiary is ineligible for an I-130 approval under INA 204(c), in that his prior marriage was found to be a sham.

Petitioner Receives Guidance on Responding to Notice of Intent to Deny through Consultation

The petitioner contacted our firm, Dyan Williams Law, for help just four days before the Response to Notice of Intent to Deny was due to USCIS. Due to the time constraints and pre-existing commitments, we declined to represent her in the Response, but agreed to provide her with a consultation.

To prepare for the consultation, I reviewed the Notice of Intent to Deny the petition, the earlier Response to Notice of Intent to Deny that was filed by the prior U.S. citizen spouse, and other key items. During our telephone call, I gave the petitioner a list of documents and information to gather and present in her Response. I also summarized applicable case law and essential legal arguments she should mention in her Response.

Using my recommendations, the petitioner filed a timely and persuasive Response, which included a notarized declaration from the beneficiary’s ex-spouse confirming they had a good-faith marriage.

Representation on Appeal Leads to Reversal of INA 204(c) Finding and Approval of I-130 and I-485

A week after receiving the Response to Notice of Intent to Deny, USCIS issued a decision denying the I-130 petition under INA 204(c). The Service found there was no credible evidence to substantiate the claim of a bona fide marriage between the beneficiary and his prior U.S. citizen spouse.

The petitioner contacted me soon after she received the decision. This time, I accepted her case for representation and agreed to prepare and file the appeal on her behalf.

On appeal, I argued it was not the petitioner’s burden to prove her spouse’s prior marriage was bona fide. Rather, the Service has the burden to show by “substantial and probative evidence” that the beneficiary previously attempted or conspired to enter into a sham marriage for U.S. immigration purposes. I cited to applicable law, the credible explanations for the discrepancies at the interviews, and material evidence demonstrating the beneficiary and his prior spouse lived together and shared a real marriage before it ended in divorce. I noted the Service made a reversible error by applying the harsh statute – INA 204(c) – to deny the petition.

About two months after the legal memorandum to support the appeal was submitted, the petitioner informed me that USCIS approved the I-130 petition. She and her spouse also received notice that the concurrently filed I-485 application was reopened by USCIS, on its own initiative.

A couple weeks later, the beneficiary received his 10-year green card in the mail. He is now a permanent resident of the United States who may eventually file for naturalization (citizenship). After more than seven years of seeking to obtain permanent residence – first through a failed marriage and then via his current marriage – he finally achieved true success in his immigration journey with our counsel.

Cheers,

Dyan Williams

Founder & Principal Attorney
Dyan Williams Law PLLC
(612) 225-9900
info@dyanwilliamslaw.com

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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 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.

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