I lied about my marital status on my tourist visa application. Will this affect my application to adjust status?

I lied about my marital status on my tourist visa application. Will this affect my application to adjust status?

Question: Several years ago, I hired an “agent” to help me apply for a B2 tourist visa to the U.S. At the time I applied for my tourist visa, I was unmarried, but the agent wrote on my application that I was married and even submitted a fake marriage certificate. My tourist visa was approved, and I traveled to the U.S. After overstaying my visa, I eventually married a U.S. citizen. Now, I would like to apply for adjustment of status to obtain a green card. Will the false information provided by my agent on my tourist visa application affect my green card application?

Answer: Yes, lying on your tourist visa application will affect your green card application. When you apply for a green card in the U.S., the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officer who processes your application can review all your prior visa and immigration applications, including your prior visa applications. If USCIS discovers that you or your agent lied on your tourist visa application, it can deny your green card application.

Consequences of lying to obtain an immigration benefit

When someone provides false information to any U.S. government department to obtain an immigration benefit, this is a form of fraud and misrepresentation. A person who attempts to defraud the government in this manner is “inadmissible,” which means that he or she is not eligible to receive a green card. Pursuant to the Immigration and Nationality Act, USCIS will determine that an applicant is inadmissible if the following factors are present: 

  • The applicant made an affirmative act of misrepresentation;
  • The applicant made such misrepresentation willfully; 
  • The fact misrepresented by the applicant is material; and
  • Through fraud or misrepresentation, the applicant seeks to procure or has procured a visa or other immigration benefit. 

Fraud or misrepresentation by an agent or attorney

Misrepresentation or fraud perpetrated by an applicant’s agent or attorney is binding on the applicant. You, as the applicant, are responsible for all the information you provide on an immigration application. When you submit a visa or immigration application to the U.S. government, you are affirming that all of the information contained in the application is true—whether you completed it yourself or not. Therefore, if your agent made a misrepresentation on your visa application, USCIS will consider this to be your misrepresentation. In other words, you cannot avoid responsibility simply because someone else filled out your application for you. 

Retracting a false statement 

An applicant who makes a timely and voluntary retraction of a false statement on a visa or immigration application may be afforded leeway by USCIS. Unfortunately, however, the time to retract the misrepresentation is prior to entering the U.S.—not at a green card interview. Therefore, if you have already made a false statement on a prior immigration application, your only remaining option is to apply for a waiver. However, applying for a waiver is difficult, and the overall approval rate is low.

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