gurfinkel new photo thumb medium115 157

Recently, a person came to my office for consultation after her adjustment of status application (based on marriage to a US citizen) was denied due to fraud.

She had entered the US on a transit visa (C-1), but was not a crewman. Therefore, she was otherwise eligible to adjust status. The problem is she went to a consultant for legal assistance in filling out her paperwork. For whatever reason, the consultant filled out her forms, stating she had entered the US as a "visitor" on a B-2 visa, rather than as a transit. He included a doctored/altered I-94 (arrival/departure record), also indicating she entered the US as a visitor. The consultant probably did this because ordinarily, crewman on C-1 visas cannot adjust status in the US unless they have the benefit of Section 245(i).

So, the consultant probably thought she was a crewman, and sought to cover-up, or alter her manner of entry. But the "lie" was unnecessary, and caused unnecessary problems. At her adjustment interview, the immigration officer accessed, in his computer, records of her having entered the US on a C-1 visa, not as a B-2 visitor. When the officer saw that her forms and paperwork indicated she entered as a visitor, he considered this to be fraud, making her ineligible to adjust status. However, she was completely unaware that the consultant had filled out the paperwork this way, and was unaware that the consultant had put down incorrect information on her forms. But still, she was held responsible for the consultant's misrepresentations. (The law states a person is responsible for the misrepresentations of his or her "agent").

My point is some people will go to consultants for assistance (because they believe the consultant is "cheaper," or the person feels more comfortable with a consultant rather than an attorney). But the person is completely unaware of what the consultant is doing, the information and documents the consultant is submitting, and the like. They trust the consultant, and sign the papers. In this woman's case, there was no reason to put down incorrect information. But because the consultant did not know the law, he thought it would "help" her case by lying. The consultant probably was completely unaware that the immigration officers have access to a vast amount of information about people, including how and when they entered the US, any previous immigration filings, denials, removal proceedings, crimes, and the like. There are questions on the forms requiring a "yes" or "no" answer about various subjects, and just because a person checks the "no" box, does not mean that the USCIS will believe them, and move on. The USCIS will investigate, check their data base, and will discover the truth, and your lies.

What makes matters worse is this person paid the consultant just about the same amount she would have paid an attorney. But now, she will have the extra expense of having to hire an attorney to undo the damage caused by the consultant. That is why it is important that if you have any immigration problem, go to an attorney, rather than a consultant. An attorney is licensed to practice law, can offer legal advice, and appear with you at your interview or hearing, to deal with any issues that may arise. A consultant cannot practice law, give legal advice, or represent you at interviews or hearings.

Michael J. Gurfinkel has been an attorney for over 30 years, and is an active member of the State Bar of California and New York, as well as the American Immigration Lawyers Association and the Immigration Section of the Los Angeles County Bar Association. He has always excelled in school: Valedictorian in High School; Cum Laude at UCLA; and Law Degree Honors and academic scholar at Loyola Law School, which is one of the top law schools in California. WEBSITE: www.gurfinkel.com Follow us on Facebook.com/GurfinkelLaw and Twitter @GurfinkelLaw TOLL FREE NUMBER: 1-866-GURFINKEL (1-866-487-3465) Four offices to serve you: LOS ANGELES ¥ SAN FRANCISCO ¥ NEW YORK ¥ PHILIPPINES (This is for informational purposes only, and reflects the firm's opinions and views on general issues. Each case is different and results may depend on the facts of a particular case. All immigration services are provided by an active member of the State Bar of California and/or by a person under the supervision of an active member of the State Bar. No prediction, warranty or guarantee can be made about the results of any case. Should you need or want legal advice, you should consult with and retain counsel of your own choice.)