Category Archives: nonimmigrant visa

COVID-19 Update: Some U.S. Consulates & Embassies Suspend Operations Until Further Notice

The COVID-19 outbreak has led some U.S. Consulates and Embassies to suspend or cancel visa interviews and stop issuing visas. These changes came after the United States added more travel restrictions to curb the global spread of the novel coronavirus.

A March 18, 2020 statement, titled Suspension of Routine Visa Services, from the U.S. Embassy & Consulate in the Republic of Korea, states: “In response to worldwide challenges related to the outbreak of COVID-19, the Department of State is suspending routine visa services in all countries with a level 2, 3, or 4 U.S. Department of State travel advisory. ” The reasons for travel warnings may range from COVID-19 outbreaks to wars to high crime rates.

Visa applicants must verify the availability of visa interviews at the U.S. Consulate or Embassy that has jurisdiction to review and process their visa request.

For example, a March 13th alert on the U.S. Embassy & Consulates in Canada website states that as of March 17, 2020, it is cancelling all routine nonimmigrant visa appointments.  It adds, “The Consulate General in Montreal continues to process immigrant visas but depending on staffing capacity and host government restrictions, may need to reduce routine immigrant visa appointments.  We are monitoring the situation closely and will notify applicants as quickly as possible should it be necessary to reschedule.” It states routine nonimmigrant visa services will resume as soon as possible, but provides no specific date at this time.

A March 13th alert on the U.S. Embassy & Consulates in India website, notes “U.S. Mission India posts, in light of the global COVID-19 pandemic, are cancelling immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments from March 16, 2020, onward. Your visa appointment stands as cancelled. Once Mission India resumes regular consular operations, appointments will be made available and you will be able to reschedule.”

Earlier on February 3, the U.S. Embassy in Beijing and U.S. Consulates in Chengdu, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Shenyang cancelled routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments.  They have yet to provide a specific date on when routine services will resume.

Each U.S. Embassy or Consulate will make its own decision on whether to suspend visa services, absent a clear directive from a higher authority.

Presidential Proclamations Related to COVID-19

On Friday, March 13, President Trump declared a National Emergency concerning the Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Outbreak. See full text here.

The Presidential Proclamations restricting travel related to the COVID-19 outbreak include:

January 31 Proclamation suspending entry to the United States of most foreign nationals who traveled to China within the past 14 days. The proclamation took effect on Sunday, February 2.  Read the full text of here.

February 29 Proclamation suspending entry to the United States of most foreign nationals who were physically present in Iran during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States.  The proclamation took effect on Monday, March 2.  Read the full text here.

March 11 Proclamation suspending entry to the United States of most foreign nationals who have been in the Schengen Area during the 14 days prior to their scheduled arrival in the United States. These European countries include Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. The proclamation took effect on 11:59 p.m., eastern daylight time on March 13, 2020. Read the full text  here.

March 13 Proclamation suspending entry to the United States of most foreign nationals who have been in the United Kingdom and Ireland during the 14 days prior to their scheduled arrival in the United States. The proclamation took effect on 11:59 p.m. eastern daylight time on March 16, 2020. Read the full text here.

Exceptions to the U.S. Travel Restrictions are Limited

U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents are not subject to the proclamations. Other exceptions include:

  • certain family members of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents: spouses, children (under the age of 21), parents (provided that his/her U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident child is unmarried and under the age of 21), and siblings (provided that both the sibling and the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident are unmarried and under the age of 21). 
  • foreign diplomats traveling to the United States on A or G visas.

  • air and sea crew traveling to the United States on C, D or C1/D visas.

There is also an exception for visa applicants whose entry would be in the national interest, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their designees. Such an exception will rarely be approved.

The U.S. Department of States (DOS) has advised that exceptions to the travel restrictions may be presented directly to U.S. Embassies and Consulates where visa applications will be filed.

At some consular posts, visa applicants with urgent travel needs that qualify for an exception under the Presidential Proclamations may request an emergency appointment request. For a general description, read about expedited appointments at the U.S. Embassies in China and India.

Each consular post has its individual application procedures and processes, which are currently very fluid and subject to change.

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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. Travel Suspension – Due to COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Outbreak – Expands to Include Visitors from 26 European Countries

With the World Health Organization declaring the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic, there is one more Presidential Proclamation expanding the suspension of international travel to the United States. With few exceptions, foreign nationals (immigrants and nonimmigrants) who have been in certain European countries will be subject to the travel restrictions.

As of Friday, March 13, 2020, the United States will suspend the entry of most immigrants and nonimmigrants who have been in the Schengen Area at any point during the 14 days prior to their scheduled arrival in the United States. These European countries include Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. The list does not include the United Kingdom or Ireland.

[UPDATE: Effective March 16, 2020, another Presidential Proclamation suspends the entry of most immigrants and nonimmigrants who have been in the United Kingdom and Ireland during the 14 days prior to their scheduled arrival in the United States.]

This proclamation is effective at 11:59 p.m. eastern daylight time on March 13. It does not apply to persons aboard a flight scheduled to arrive in the United States that departed prior to the cut-off time.

The travel restriction does not apply to a U.S. citizen or to:

  • a lawful permanent resident of the United States
  • a spouse of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident

  • a parent or legal guardian of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (who is unmarried and under the age of 21)

  • a sibling of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (provided that both are unmarried and under the age of 21)

  • a child, foster child, or ward of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, or who is a prospective adoptee seeking to enter the United States pursuant to an IR-4 or IH-4 visa

  • a foreign national who is traveling at the invitation of the United States Government for a purpose related to containment or mitigation of the virus

  • a foreign national who is traveling on a C-1, D, or C-1/D nonimmigrant visa as a crewmember or otherwise traveling to the United States as air or sea crew

  • a foreign national seeking entry or transit with the following visas: A-1, A-2, C-2, C-3 (as a foreign government official or immediate family member of an official), E-1 (as an employee of TECRO or TECO or the employee’s immediate family members), G-1, G-2, G-3, G-4, NATO-1 through NATO-4, or NATO-6 (or seeking to enter as a nonimmigrant in one of those NATO categories)

  • a foreign national traveling within the scope of section 11 of the United Nations Headquarters Agreement

  • a foreign national whose entry would not pose a significant risk of introducing, transmitting, or spreading the virus, as determined by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, through the CDC Director or his designee

  • a foreign national whose entry would further important United States law enforcement objectives, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees, based on a recommendation of the Attorney General or his designee;

  • a foreign national whose entry would be in the national interest, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their designees

  • a member of the U.S. Armed Forces and his/her spouse and children

Click here a full text of the proclamation.

There are two other pre-existing Presidential Proclamations suspending travel due to the COVID-19 outbreak, which have the same exceptions noted in the European Schengen Area Proclamation.They include

1. Travel Suspension – China: immigrants and nonimmigrants who were physically present within the People’s Republic of China, excluding the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau, during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States. The proclamation went into effect on February 2. Click here for a full text of the proclamation.

2. Travel Suspension – Iran: immigrants and nonimmigrants who were physically present within the Islamic Republic of Iran within the past 14 days prior to their scheduled arrival in the United States. The proclamation went into effect as of March 2. Click here for a full text of the proclamation.

The stated purpose of these travel restrictions is to curb the spread of the outbreak. Crowded travel arenas, like airports, may increase your risk of exposure to COVID-19 ( SARS-CoV-2/coronavirus), if there are other travelers with COVID-19.

The characteristics of the illness, however, have not changed. Declaring an outbreak a “pandemic” means it has spread around the world beyond expectation, and not that it has become more dangerous to your health.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Symptoms are relatively mild and most people recover within six days. People at higher risk for severe disease are older adults and people of any age with serious chronic medical conditions (such as heart disease, lung disease, or diabetes). The CDC recommends that persons at higher risk for COVID-19 complications avoid all cruise travel and nonessential air travel.

As the Trump Administration noted, these travel restrictions are temporary. In the meantime, U.S. Consular Services, particularly in China and Italy, have reduced dramatically due to limited staffing and the suspensions on travel.

The Presidential Proclamations also direct the Secretary of Homeland Security to implement standards and procedures at and between all U.S. ports of entry to regulate the travel of persons and aircraft to the United States to facilitate the orderly medical screening and, where appropriate, quarantine of persons who enter the United States and who may have been exposed to the virus. “Such steps may include directing air carriers to restrict and regulate the boarding of such passengers on flights to the United States.”

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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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2019 Public Charge Rule: 3 Key Changes

On August 14, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published the Final Rule on the public charge inadmissibility ground, which amends the regulations for section 212(a)(4) of the Immigration & Nationality Act (INA).

Highly controversial and several months in the making, the Final Rule gives U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) more discretionary power to deny Form I-485, green card requests, and Form I-129 and Form I-539 applications to change status or extend status, on the public charge ground.

The new rule is set to take effect on October 15, 2019, i.e. 60 days after its publication.

[UPDATE: A temporary injunction — resulting from federal court litigation – delayed the implementation for USCIS. The new rule is set to take effect on February 24, 2020, and will apply to all applications/petitions to USCIS that are postmarked on or after that date.]

It will affect applications filed (received by the agency) or postmarked on or after the implementation date. The U.S. Department of State (DOS) is expected to further revise the Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM) to incorporate DHS’ new public charge rule. 

[UPDATE: On January 27, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 vote, lifted the temporary injunction that stopped USCIS from implementing the new public charge rule, while litigation over its legality continues. Earlier, on October 11, 2019, federal judges in three separate cases enjoined USCIS from enforcing the rule and postponed the effective date until there is final resolution in the cases. With the latest U.S. Supreme Court ruling, USCIS may now enforce the Final Rule nationwide.]


Public Charge Inadmissibility Ground Under Section 212(a)(4)

The long-existing section 212(a)(4)(A) makes a person inadmissible to the U.S. if he or she is “likely at any time to become a public charge.”  Whether a person is barred from the U.S. on public charge ground depends on the totality of the circumstances.

Section 212(a)(4)(B) of the INA instructs USCIS and U.S. consular officers to consider the following factors:

  • Age
  • Health
  • Family status
  • Assets; resources; and financial status
  • Education and skills

The Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, from the petitioner (sponsor) or joint sponsor is also an important factor to consider in certain immigrant visa or green card cases.

The statute does not define “public charge.” But since 1999, USCIS and DOS guidelines have defined it to mean a person who is or is likely to become “primarily dependent” on the U.S. government for subsistence, as shown by the receipt of “public cash assistance for income maintenance” or “institutionalization for long-term care at government expense.”

There is no waiver for immigrants ineligible under INA 212(a)(4).  While a waiver is legally allowed for nonimmigrants ineligible under INA 212(a)(4), consular officers generally do not recommend such waivers as a matter of policy, especially when the visa in question requires non-immigrant intent under INA 214(b).

The 2019 Final Rule involves a new definition of public charge and includes 3 key changes:

1) Expands the range of public benefits that may be considered when determining whether applicants who have received or are currently receiving benefits are inadmissible on public charge ground.

Under the Final Rule, public benefits are no longer limited to mean cash assistance programs, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), and state general relief or general assistance. The term “public benefit” has expanded to include previously excluded programs, such as:

  • Federally funded Medicaid (with certain exclusions, e.g. receipt of Medicaid for emergency care; services funded by Medicaid but provided under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act; school-based services provided to persons who are at or below the oldest age eligible for secondary education as defined by state or local law; Medicaid benefits received by a person under age 21; and Medicaid benefits received by pregnant women and women for up to 60 days after giving birth.)   
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or formerly called “Food Stamps”)
  • Section 8 Housing Assistance under the Housing Choice Voucher Program 
  • Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance (including Moderate Rehabilitation) 
  • Public Housing under section 9 the Housing Act of 1937, 42 U.S.C. 1437 et seq.

2) Creates a single duration-based threshold for the receipt of public benefits as part of the definition of public charge.

The Final Rule notes that an applicant is a public charge if he or she receives one or more public benefits for more than 12 months in the aggregate within any 36-month period. USCIS notes, for example, the receipt of two benefits in one month counts as two months.

The rule applies not only to green card or immigrant visa applicants. It also requires applicants seeking a change or extension of nonimmigrant status to show they have not (since initially obtaining the status) received public benefits for more than 12 months in total in any 36-month period.

Any duration (and amount) of public benefits received may be considered in the totality of the circumstances test.  Adjudications officers will only consider benefits received by the applicants and will not take into account benefits used by their children or other family members.

3) Defines “heavily weighted positive factors” that reduce the likelihood of becoming a public charge and “heavily weighted negative factors” that increase the likelihood of becoming a public charge. 

Among the heavily weighted negative factors is having received or been approved to receive one or more public benefits for more than 12 months in total within the 36-month period prior to applying for admission to the U.S., a green card, or a status change or extension.

Other negative factors include being younger or older than working age; having a health condition that is likely to require extensive treatment and lacking private health insurance or the means to pay medical costs; having limited income or resources; not being employed, a full-time student or a primary caregiver; previously found inadmissible on public charge grounds; and using or previously using public benefit programs.

Heavily weighted positive factors include the applicant’s household has financial assets or resources of at least 250% of the federal poverty level, or the applicant earns an income of at least 250% of the federal poverty level for the household size.

Other positive factors are the applicant is authorized to work, is gainfully employed, and has private health insurance that is not subsidized by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The shift toward the weighing of positive factors and negative factors means the Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, can no longer be relied on as sufficient proof – by itself – to demonstrate the applicant would not become a public charge in immigration cases that require the Affidavit of Support.

Introduction of Form I-944, Declaration of Self-Sufficiency

USCIS introduced the new Form I-944, Declaration of Self-Sufficiency, which collects information on the applicant’s family status; assets, resources and financial resources; and education and skills. More information is in the Form I-944 instructions.

When the Final Rule goes into effect, Form I-485 adjustment of status/green card applicants will need to submit a completed Form I-944 with supporting documents. Applicants requesting a change or extension of status through a Form I-129 or Form I-539 may also have to file a completed Form I-944 if USCIS elects to require one in a Request for Evidence.

[UPDATE: Starting on February 24, 2020, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) will implement the Final Rule and may require Immigrant Visa applicants and K-1 visa applicants to complete the Form DS-5540, Public Charge Questionnaire. This form requests information on the visa applicant’s household size and income, assets, liabilities, education, job skills, health, and receipt of public benefits.]

Posting of Public Charge Bonds

Section 213 of the INA provides for the posting of a public charge bond in cases where applicants need to demonstrate they will not become a public charge. The Final Rule states that applicants who are initially found likely to become a public charge by USCIS may be offered the opportunity to post a public charge bond of at least $8,100.

The bond may be terminated only upon the immigrant’s death, permanent departure from the United States, five years as a lawful permanent resident, or naturalization. The bond will be breached if the immigrant receives public benefits for more than 12 months in total within any 36-month period.

Statutory Exemptions Still Apply

Congress exempted certain classes of immigrants from the public charge inadmissibility ground. The Final Rule includes provisions recognizing the classes of individuals who are exempt, e.g. refugees, asylees, widow(er)s of U.S. citizens, VAWA self-petitioners, and Afghans and Iraqis with special immigrant visas.

2019 Final Rule Will Add Complexities

The public charge inadmissibility ground applies to persons requesting admission to the United States as an immigrant or nonimmigrant. It does not apply to permanent residents filing for naturalization (Form N-400) or to conditional permanent residents applying to remove the conditions on their residence (Form I-751).

When possible, persons who are seeking to adjust to permanent resident status or extend or change status should file their applications before the new public charge rule goes into effect.

Applications that are filed (received by the agency) or postmarked on or after October 15 will be subject to the Final Rule, which gives adjudications officers broader discretionary power in determining whether a person is inadmissible on the public charge ground.

[UPDATE: The implementation date for USCIS was postponed from October 15 to February 24, 2020.]

The new procedures under the Final Rule are likely to increase processing times, create confusion over eligibility and filing requirements, and add complexities in applications, especially during the initial stages of implementation. 

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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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Lifting of INA 212(a)(2)(A)(i)(I)(Crime-Related/CIMT) Bar + J-1 Visa Approval = A True Success Story

Within 16 days of my client’s visa interview, the U.S. Embassy granted him a J-1 exchange visitor visa after it had denied his prior application under INA 212(a)(2)(A)(i)(I)(crime-related bar). In the previous visa refusal, the Embassy found him to be permanently inadmissible because he was charged with two offenses, forgery and larceny, which are normally considered Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude (CIMT).

Based on the Motion to Reconsider and Rescind Inadmissibility Determination that I prepared for the client, the Embassy lifted the lifetime bar and issued the visa without requiring a 212(d)(3) waiver of inadmissibility.

Under INA 212(a)(2)(A)(i)(I), any non-U.S. citizen convicted of, or who admits committing acts that constitute the elements of a crime involving moral turpitude (other than a purely political offense), is inadmissible.  For the CIMT bar to apply, an actual conviction is not required when the person explicitly admits to committing all elements of the offense, under oath, including to a U.S. consular officer or customs officer during an interview.

A CIMT involves engaging in morally reprehensible and intrinsically wrong conduct with willful, reckless, or malicious intent. Examples are crimes against a person (aggravated battery, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, statutory rape); crimes against property (shoplifting, theft, fraud, forgery, robbery); sexual and family crimes (e.g. child abuse, aggravated domestic assault); and crimes against the government (e.g. bribery, counterfeiting, willful tax evasion).

The petty offense exception applies only if the person committed just one CIMT ever, the CIMT has a potential sentence of one year or less, and a sentence of six months or less was imposed (if the person was convicted of the offense).

The client contacted me to evaluate his problem and recommend a solution after he had been denied the J-1 visa due to crime-related grounds. During the consultation, I learned that while he had been arrested and charged with two offenses (forgery and larceny) for one single incident, he was not convicted of either.

The police report, however, contained the client’s written Voluntary Statement admitting he had made a photocopy of his metro-train pass and presented the fake ticket to the train conductor to save money when he was low on cash. Meanwhile, he gave his real train pass to his travel companion to use.

In the legal memorandum supporting the Motion to Reconsider and Rescind Inadmissibility Finding, I emphasized that my client was never convicted of forgery or larceny. The charges were dismissed after he was placed in an alternative rehabilitation program, which did not require him to enter a guilty plea. I also argued that his Voluntary Statement in the police report did not amount to a legally valid admission to committing a CIMT. Thus, the Embassy’s crime-related inadmissibility finding was made in error.

Although my client qualified for the 212(d)(3) nonimmigrant waiver of inadmissibility, the U.S. Customs & Border Protection, Admissibility Review Office normally takes several months to process these requests – even after the Embassy makes a favorable recommendation. The waiver is also valid for a limited period (currently, up to 60 months).

Furthermore, the crime-related bar would remain if left unchallenged. If he were to seek permanent residence in the future, he would require a Form I-601/INA 212(i) immigrant waiver as long as the crime-related bar existed. This immigrant waiver of inadmissibility has much stricter eligibility criteria and higher evidentiary standards.

My client agreed that the Motion to Reconsider and Rescind Inadmissibility Determination was the primary solution and the 212(d)(3) waiver was the alternative remedy. Within one month of accepting his request for representation, I prepared the Motion with a legal memorandum and documentary evidence demonstrating the CIMT bar did not apply or,  at the very least, the 212(d)(3) waiver should be granted.

When my client appeared for his visa interview, the consular officer refused to accept the legal memorandum and accompanying exhibits. Instead, she took only two documents showing the charges had been dismissed. The problem was the Embassy had the same or similar information when it denied the prior J-1 visa application. My client was worried the Embassy would deny the new visa request because it had received no new information since the last denial.

To fully explain the situation, I forwarded the legal memorandum and exhibits to the Embassy in a follow-up email correspondence. I pointed out that my client has no criminal convictions, did not enter any guilty plea, and did not make any legally valid admissions to committing a  CIMT. I also noted that even if his Voluntary Statement to the police counted as a formal admission (which was not the case), the most he admitted to was forgery (not larceny) and he would thus, at a minimum, qualify for the petty offense exception to the CIMT bar. 

Eleven (11) days after I submitted the follow-up correspondence, including the legal memorandum and exhibits, to the Embassy, the J-1 visa was issued to my client. This allowed him to return to the U.S. and timely begin his J-1 exchange visitor program.

While my client was stuck overseas, waiting for his J-1 visa problem to be fixed, he and his wife communicated with me through emails and video calls.  Despite being in separate countries, we formed a strong attorney-client relationship and effective partnership that resulted in 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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