The journey from visa applicant to American citizen can be long and arduous. At best, it takes years, and in some cases, decades. So, receiving a Notice to Appear in Immigration Court after your naturalization interview is incredibly frustrating. After applying, often multiple times, for a visa, finally receiving it, arriving in the United States, and spending years as a green card holder, the next step should be simple: you file your N400, attend your interview, swear the oath, and become a citizen. However, many applicants stumble at this last step and find themselves facing deportation.
The problem can be simple enough. Often, diversity visa applicants don’t list their children if they aren’t planning to travel to the United States. This will become a problem whether the applicant left the kids off their initial application, their DS-260, or both. Sometimes an individual who was single when their parents petitioned for them gets married before filling out their DS-260 and going to their consular interview. If that person failed to note the change, issues will arise when they try to naturalize. Whether these misstatements were innocent or intentional, they will prevent you from naturalizing and the government is very likely to place you in deportation proceedings. This happens even more now that the Department of State’s records are digitally accessible and USCIS can easily compare your N400 application with your visa application and DS-260.
Unfortunately, misrepresenting any material fact can lead to a finding of fraud, so whether you failed to list your children on your diversity visa application, claimed that you weren’t married when you were, lied about your age, or received a green card based on a marriage that the government later decided was a fraud, you may be denied Citizenship and placed in deportation proceedings. This can feel like a crushing blow. After all your time and work, the government is threatening to send you out of the country.
While the situation is serious, there is a provision in the immigration code that offers hope. In many cases, INA 237(a)(1)(H) allows you to waive deportation based on fraud if you have a family member with a green card or citizenship. The family member can be any parent, child, or spouse and there is no hardship requirement. As long as you had a visa when you arrived and you are only removable based on INA 237(a)(1)(A), INA 237(a)(1)(G), or 237(a)(1)(D), the immigration judge may be able to waive your deportation. The best part is, once the waiver is granted, you can immediately file for citizenship without worrying about your past fraud. If USCIS did not reject your application, you may even be scheduled for naturalization without reapplying.
Ultimately, removal proceedings are serious and if you receive a Notice to Appear you should seek out an immigration attorney right away. If your Notice to Appear says you are removable based on INA 237(a)(1)(A), INA 237(a)(1)(G), or, in some cases, 237(a)(1)(D), you may be eligible for a waiver. Wilson Law Group has a long history of guiding clients out of deportation hearings and back onto the path to citizenship using these waivers. If you are facing deportation but think you may be eligible for a waiver, please call our office at 612-436-7100 to schedule a consultation with an attorney. The prospect of deportation is scary but we are here to get you back on track so you can wave goodbye to your fears and say hello to your future as an American citizen.