When applying for permanent residence within the U.S. – or for any other immigration benefit – fabrication or willful concealment of the truth to an immigration or consulate officer may lead to a misrepresentation finding. If the officer decides that you have been committing misrepresentation, it means a lifetime bar on any immigration benefit that you could have otherwise been eligible to.
If you have been unfortunate enough to be found guilty of misrepresentation by a CIS or State Department official, the only course to be taken is to fill out a misrepresentation waiver with the CIS. This venture should not be taken lightly however. It should be well documented and must show that the applicant genuinely deserves the CIS’s discretion to waive his past lie.
To be a qualifier for a misrepresentation waiver, one must have a “qualifying relative” i.e. a relative who is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident. This means a spouse or parent who would suffer “extreme hardship” if the immigrant was barred from entering the U.S.
The word “extreme” demands elaboration: Only if there is a prospect of real, tangible injury to the aforementioned U.S. citizen or lawful resident is there a possibility of removal of the bar. Common impacts of the bar such as financial or marital conflicts are not enough to warrant the removal unless they are combined with something much more drastic. It is a good idea to submit as much documented evidence as possible indicating that the U.S. citizen or lawful resident will indeed suffer “extreme hardship” if the misrepresentation waiver cannot be obtained.
Some factors pertinent to “extreme hardship” include but are not limited to health considerations like availability, duration and other requirements for a specialized treatment; financial considerations like future employ-ability, loss due to termination of professional practice or sale of home or business, lowered standard of living, cost of care and grooming of family members such as children, elderly or infirm; educational concerns like lesser opportunities or decreased scope for quality education, requirement for special education on part of the U.S. citizen or resident which may result in lower grades etc.; and personal concerns like separation from spouse or children and the age of those involved etc. Certain other factors like linguistic, ethnic, religious or cultural barriers or fear of persecution or social stigma may also be considered valid.
When seeking the waiver, one should always be careful while hiring an attorney or consultant. Someone who claims to be able to obtain the waiver for a minimal fee but fails to inquire about the details of your case is not a good choice. A good representative will inquire about your immigration history and your spouse’s past and will take time to talk to you about the factors mentioned above to ensure that you have the strongest arguments for obtaining the waiver. A cheap attorney may sound good but when it comes to a misrepresentation waiver, cost should not come before quality.