What happens if I said something untrue in one of my prior immigration applications?
Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States at our office here in St. Louis, Missouri. I was speaking with a potential client the other day and he had hired a non-lawyer to help him file an asylum application way, way long ago. That asylum application was ultimately denied, but he got his green card through marriage to someone else later on.
He’s worried now that he’s thinking about applying for citizenship about whether or not that misrepresentation, falsehood in his prior asylum application is going to come back to haunt him. He asked me something that I’ve never thought about. He said, “Jim, isn’t there a statute of limitations in immigration on something that I said untrue?” I sort of laughed for a minute and then I thought about it.
I can see why someone might think that, but there is no statute of limitations in immigration. If you lied or if you misrepresented something in a prior application, that’s fair game, especially if you’re applying for citizenship. The thing right now is that they are indeed going back over every piece of every application that you filed in the past and they’re finding great consistencies between asylum applications and green card applications, between green card applications and naturalization applications.
My dear friend, there are no statute of limitations in immigration, and if you made a misrepresentation in an asylum application, then you need to, number one, get a copy of your immigration file to see what’s in there. This poor guy told me that he hadn’t even read his asylum application. He’s hopeful that there’s nothing in there that’s false. He told the notario or the non-lawyer who was helping him, the circumstances of his case.
But in our experience, a lot of times these notarios just want to get the case approved so they add, or embellish, or exaggerate circumstances in the home country, and this leads to problems later on. We encouraged this guy that I was talking to track down his immigration file and then we could look at it and see what’s in there and see what USA has thought of his various applications and then decide whether or not it makes sense to apply for naturalization at this time when they’re taking such a degree of scrutiny to prior application.
If you have problems in your past with immigration and you want to apply for an immigration benefit, and the same advice applies to you, make sure that you get a copy of your immigration file and talk to an immigration lawyer before you file. We’re seeing more and more that applying for citizenship is becoming another triggering event for people ending up actually in deportation. You can lose things besides just getting your citizenship case denied, you can actually put your green card at risk. Hopefully that won’t happen. Hopefully that won’t happen to our friend that I spoke to and hopefully it won’t happen to you.
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