I-212 Waiver Approved for Nigerian B-1/B-2 Visa Applicant Subject to 5 Year Ban

I-212 Waiver Approved for Nigerian B-1/B-2 Visa Applicant Subject to 5 Year Ban

Our client contacted my office after being expeditiously removed from the U.S. during his and his family’s attempted entry into the U.S. on valid B-1/B-2 visitor visas.  During inspection at the arriving port of entry, the CBP officer searched through their luggage and found children’s schoolbooks and school-related material as well as their medical records.

Our client informed the CBP officer that his wife and children planned to stay temporarily in the home of a relative while the Ebola epidemic was then a serious public health concern in Nigeria.  He informed the CBP officer that his wife and children would return back to Nigeria within 5 months.  Our client himself planned to return back to Nigeria within a few days to attend to businesses which he owns and operates in his home country.

The CBP officer determined that our client’s family did not overcome their presumption of immigrant intent and expeditiously removed them from the U.S.  My client subsequently contacted me because he needed to return to the U.S. to meet with business partners and customers and attend trade conventions that are vital to the operation and success of his enterprise.

Section 212(a)(9)(A)(i) and (ii) of the Immigration and National Act, as added by IIRAIRA Section 301, provides that foreign nationals who have been ordered removed may not be readmitted to the United States until they have stayed outside the U.S. for a specified period of time:

  • 5 years for individuals removed through summary exclusion or through removal proceedings initiated upon the person’s arrival in the U.S.;
  • 10 years for those otherwise ordered removed after a deportation hearing or who departed the United States while an order of removal was outstanding; and
  • 20 years for a second or subsequent removal.

The I-212 waiver allows foreign nationals who wish to return to the U.S. prior to meeting the required amount of time outside the U.S. to file an application for permission to reapply pursuant to INA Section 212(a)(A)((iii).

The USCIS exercises broad discretion when adjudicating I-212 waiver requests for permission to reapply.  The following may be considered positive factors in granting permission for early re-entry:

  •  Basis for the deportation
  • Recency of deportation
  • Foreign national’s length of residence in the U.S., and status held during that presence
  • Family responsibilities and ties to the U.S.
  • Foreign national’s evidence of good moral character
  • Foreign national’s respect for law and order
  • Evidence of reformation and rehabilitation
  • Hardship involving the applicant and others
  • Need for the applicant’s services in the U.S.
  • Whether the applicant has an approved immigrant or non-immigrant visa petition
  • Eligibility for a waiver of other inadmissibility grounds
  • Absence of significant undesirable or negative factors

Negative factors may include:

  • Evidence of moral depravity, including criminal tendencies reflected by an ongoing unlawful activity or continuing police record
  • Repeated violations of  immigration laws, willful disregard of other laws
  • Likelihood of becoming a public charge
  • Poor physical or mental condition (however, a need for treatment in the United States for such a condition would be a favorable factor)
  • Absence of close family ties or hardships
  • Spurious marriage to a U.S. citizen for purpose of gaining an immigration benefit
  • Unauthorized employment in the United States
  • Lack of skill for which labor certification could  be issued
  • Serious violation of immigration laws, which evidence a callous attitude without hint of reformation of character
  • Existence of other grounds of inadmissibility into the U.S.

In support of our client’s I-212 waiver application, we prepared a comprehensive legal brief going over how the facts and circumstances of his situation met the legal standards used to adjudicate an I-212 waiver application for a B-1/B-2 non-immigrant visa applicant.  The legal standards discussed included those set forth by the Board of Immigration Appeals in its precedent decision, Matter of Tin.  

Just as importantly, we presented substantial evidence of our client’s significant and permanent ties to his home country in order to overcome the presumption of immigrant intent.  We discussed and provided proof of our client’s previous travels to the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and other countries of the European Schenhen Area.  We presented details of his previous travels to the United States on business, attending trade conventions and conferences at which he and the management team of his companies have obtained training in cutting-edge technologies, strategies, and methodologies in their industry sector; negotiated contracts; and initiated business contacts with prospective clients.

We further presented corporate documentation showing the formation, capital structure, and revenues of our client’s companies that are based in his home country of Nigeria; our client’s own personal savings, investments, property ownership, and financial snapshot of his net worth; as well the reasons why it is critically important for him to enter the U.S. now to facilitate expansion of new start-up businesses in Nigeria that he has full or majority ownership of.

Just some of the supporting exhibits that we submitted to prove important assertions made in the legal brief and overcome immigrant intent included:

  • Passports and Visas for the Entire Family
  • Certificates of Incorporation
  • Expenses for Business Trips Previously Made to US
  • Family Travel Itinerary for Past 5 Years
  • Comprehensive Presentation of our Client’s Business Interests
  • Proof of Property Ownership
  • Property Surveys
  • Current Cash Assets of Companies Fully-owned by our Client
  • Personal Savings Account Statement
  • Contracts with Business Clients
  • Extended Contracts Demonstrating Product Marketing and Strategic Planning
  • Purchase Orders for Equipment by Companies Owned by our Client
  • Government Authorization to Employ Foreign Employees in Nigeria
  • Contracts with Business Partners
  • Criminal Record Background Checks
  • Attestations from Attorney

I-212 waivers for non-immigrants residing outside the U.S. and applying for non-immigrant visas are generally submitted at the U.S. embassy or consulate with jurisdiction over the applicant’s place of residence.

Thus, this waiver was submitted to the U.S. consulate in Lagos.

The I-212 waiver we thoroughly prepared for our client was subsequently approved.  Our client is now able to freely travel to the United States to further expand his businesses and meet with customers, partners, and colleagues in his respective industrial field.

I-601 and I-212 Waivers Approved for Colombian Spouse of U.S. Military Veteran

I-601 and I-212 Waivers Approved for Colombian Spouse of U.S. Military Veteran

Our office received approval of both the I-601 Waiver (Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility) and I-212 Waiver (Application for Permission to Reapply for Admission) for the Colombian spouse of a U.S. citizen husband who is a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces.

Our client lawfully entered the U.S. on a B-1/B-2 visitor visa when she was taken to the United States by her mother as a minor child.  She overstayed in the U.S. and was planning to leave the U.S. voluntarily with her mother when a deportation order was entered against her and her family.

She subsequently left from the U.S. to Colombia where she later met and fell in love with her U.S. citizen husband.

She was thus subject to the 10 year “unlawful presence bar” pursuant to INA INA Section 212(a)(9)(B) as well as the 10 year “deportation bar” pursuant to INA Section 212(a)(9)(A)(i) and (ii).

Keep in mind that combined I-601 and I-212 waiver submissions can only be submitted AFTER  the applicant is deemed inadmissible and denied an immigrant visa at his/her immigrant visa interview at a U.S. consulate or embassy.  It is therefore important to begin the waiver preparation process at least 3-4 months BEFORE such the consular interview is scheduled so that the waivers can be promptly submitted after the finding of inadmissibility by the consular officer.

Section 212(a)(9)(B) of the Act provides, in pertinent part:

(i) In General – Any alien (other than an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence) who –

(II) has been unlawfully present in the United States for one year or more, and who again seeks admission within 10 years of the date of alien’s departure or removal from the United States, is inadmissible.

(v) Waiver. – The Attorney General [now the Secretary of Homeland Security (Secretary)] has sole discretion to waive clause (i) in the case of an immigrant who is the spouse or son or daughter of a United States citizen or of an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence, if it is established to the satisfaction of the Attorney General [Secretary] that the refusal of admission to such immigrant alien would result in extreme hardship to the citizen or lawfully resident spouse or parent of such alien.

Section 212(a)(9)(A)(i) and (ii) of the Immigration and National Act, as added by IIRAIRA Section 301, provides that foreign nationals who have been ordered removed may not be readmitted to the United States until they have stayed outside the U.S. for a specified period of time:

  • 5 years for individuals removed through summary exclusion or through removal proceedings initiated upon the person’s arrival in the U.S.;
  • 10 years for those otherwise ordered removed after a deportation hearing or whodeparted the United States while an order of removal was outstanding; and
  • 20 years for a second or subsequent removal.

The I-212 waiver allows foreign nationals who wish to return to the U.S. prior to meeting the required amount of time outside the U.S. to file an application for permission to reapply pursuant to INA Section 212(a)(A)((iii).

In Matter of Tin, 14 I & N 371 (1973), and Matter of Lee, 17 I & N Dec. 275 (1978), the Board of Immigration Appeals established the standards to be considered in adjudicating applications for permission to reapply.

In Matter of Tin, the BIA stated that in determining whether consent to reapply for admission should be granted, all pertinent circumstances relating to the application should be considered including: 1. the basis for deportation; 2. recency of deportation; 3. applicant’s length of residence in the United States; 4. the applicant’s good moral character; 5. the applicant’s respect for law and order; 6. evidence of reformation and rehabilitation; 7. The applicant’s family responsibilities; 8. Any inadmissibility to the United States under other sections of law; 9. hardship involving the applicant and others; 10. the need for the applicant’s services in the United States; and 11. whether the applicant has an approved immigrant or nonimmigrant visa petition.

In Matter of Lee, the BIA stated that INA 212(a)(9)(A)(iii) was intended to be remedial rather than punitive, explaining that the factor of “recency of deportation” can only be considered when there is a finding of poor moral character based on moral turpitude in the conduct and attitude of a person which evinces a callous conscience.

The USCIS exercises broad discretion when adjudicating I-212 waiver requests for permission to reapply.  The following may be considered positive factors in granting permission for early re-entry:

  • Basis for the deportation
  • Recency of deportation
  • Foreign national’s length of residence in the U.S., and status held during that presence
  • Family responsibilities and ties to the U.S.
  • Foreign natonal’s evidence of good moral character
  • Foreign national’s respect for law and order
  • Evidence of reformation and rehabilitation
  • Hardship involving the applicant and others
  • Need for the applicant’s services in the U.S.
  • Whether the applicant has an approved immigrant or non-immigrant visa petition
  • Eligibility for a waiver of other inadmissibility grounds
  • Absence of significant undesirable or negative factors

Negative factors may include:

  • Evidence of moral depravity, including criminal tendencies reflected by an ongoing unlawful activity or continuing police record
  • Repeated violations of  immigration laws, willful disregard of other laws
  • Likelihood of becoming a public charge
  • Poor physical or mental condition (however, a need for treatment in the United States for such a condition would be a favorable factor)
  • Absence of close family ties or hardships
  • Spurious marriage to a U.S. citizen for purpose of gaining an immigration benefit
  • Unauthorized employment in the United States
  • Lack of skill for which labor certification could  be issued
  • Serious violation of immigration laws, which evidence a callous attitude without hint of reformation of character
  • Existence of other grounds of inadmissibility into the U.S.

For practical purposes, when the I-601 “Extreme Hardship” waiver is filed together with the I-212 Waiver, preparing a winning I-601 waiver application (by demonstrating extreme hardship to the qualifying relative and presenting a situation that warrants favorable discretion by the adjudicating officer) allows the applicant to also meet the standard for approval of the I-212 waiver.

In other words, if your I-601 waiver is approved, then the I-212 waiver will generally be approved as well.

”Extreme hardship,” for purposes of the I-601 Waiver, has a special meaning under U.S. immigration law.  The factors considered relevant in determining extreme hardship include:

  • Health of the qualifying relative: ongoing or specialized treatment requirements for a physical or mental condition; availability and quality of such treatment in the foreign national’s country, anticipated duration of the treatment; whether a condition is chronic or acute, or long or short-term.
  • Financial considerations: future employability; loss due to sale of home or business or termination of a professional practice; decline in standard of living; ability to recoup short-term losses; cost of extraordinary needs, such as special education or training for children; cost of caring for family members (i.e., elderly and infirm parents).
  • Education: loss of opportunity for higher education; lower quality or limited scope of education options; disruption of current program; requirement to be educated in a foreign language or culture with ensuing loss of time in grade; availability of special requirements, such as training programs or internships in specific fields.
  • Personal considerations: close relatives in the United States and/or the foreign national’s country; separation from spouse/children; ages of involved parties; length of residence and community ties in the United States.
  • Special considerations: cultural, language, religious, and ethnic obstacles; valid fears of persecution, physical harm, or injury; social ostracism or stigma; access to social institutions or structures.
  • Any other information that explains how your personal circumstances may qualify as imposing extreme hardship on a qualifying U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident relative.

Spouses must demonstrate that their relationship will suffer more than the normal hardship or financial inconvenience caused by family separation.

We drafted a 20+ page waiver memorandum outlining the relevant case law favorable to my client’s situation.  It also discussed in detail the extreme hardships the U.S. citizen husband is presently suffering from, and proved how they would worsen in the event of continued separation from his beloved wife.  We also highlighted a variety persuasive factors that I believed warranted an exercise of favorable discretion on the part of the USCIS.

Some of the favorable factors in this case includes the following:

  • The U.S. citizen husband is a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces who served his country honorably.  USCIS has issued guidance giving preference to approval of I-601 waivers when the qualifying relative is a member of the U.S. Armed Forces or a veteran.
  • The U.S. citizen husband’s elderly mother has been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, for which she is receiving medical treatment.  We demonstrated that it is imperative for the U.S. citizen husband to remain inside the U.S. to give support and regular assistance to his mother during this difficult period.
  • The U.S. citizen husband suffers from psychological ailments, including anxiety, lack of sleep, lack of energy, general fatigue and other assorted ache and pain.  We showed that allowing this couple to reunite will provide the U.S. citizen husband the psychological, emotional, and fiscal stability needed to deal with the stressors in his life and sustain gainful employment. It will also allow him to continue to support his ailing mother, who suffers from cancer, and who faces an uncertain future.  We proved through a variety of objective evidence that the symptoms of these disorders have been greatly exacerbated by the mere possibility of long-term separation from his wife; and the inevitable, disastrous consequences that would result should such a separation continue.
  • The U.S. citizen husband is already experiencing extreme hardship.  We proved that being forced to provide subsistence payments to his family in Columbia places significant financial stress on the U.S. citizen husband.
  • The U.S. citizen husband cannot risk immigrating to Columbia to be with his spouse because of the personal risks such a move would create for him (most especially as ex-U.S. military), his inability to obtain employment in Columbia, and the wholly inadequate living, medical, and economic conditions to which he would be exposed.

Due to our efforts, our client was approved for both the I-212 waiver and I-601 waiver USCIS.  This family can now lawfully reside together inside the United States.

I-212 Waiver Approved on Appeal by AAO Due to U.S. Citizen Spouse, Lack of Criminal Record, and Showing of Hardship

I-212 Waiver Approved on Appeal by AAO Due to U.S. Citizen Spouse, Lack of Criminal Record, and Showing of Hardship

I-212 Waiver News

The AAO recently granted approval of the I-212 Application for Permission to Reapply for Admission into the United States After Deportation or Removal for a citizen of Mexico who was ordered removed from the United States on October 11, 2012.

This case is useful to examine because it provides an example of the type of detailed discussion and comprehensive presentation of favorable factors needed in an I-212 waiver in order to obtain approval.  It also highlights the importance of a powerful and credible psychological evaluation conducted for purposes of an immigration waiver case.

The applicant initially entered the United States with a B-2 visitor visa on February 7, 2012, and though her period of authorized stay expired on August 6, 2012, she did not depart the United States until September 28, 2012.

She then sought to procure admission to the United States on October 11, 2012.  In her sworn statement before a U.S. immigration officer on October 11, 2012, she admitted to working without employment authorization during her previous stay in the United States and to staying longer than her period of authorized stay.

The applicant was found to be inadmissible under section 212(a)(7)(A)(i)(I) of the Act.  She was therefore ordered removed under section 235(b)(1) of the Act and removed on October 11, 2012.

Because of her expedited removal order, the applicant was inadmissible pursuant to section 212(a)(9)(A)(i) of the Act and required permission to reapply for admission into the United States under section 212(a)(9)(A)(iii) of the Act.

She sought permission to reapply for admission into the United States under section 212(a)(9)(A)(iii) of the Act, 8 U.S.C. § 1182(a)(9)(A)(iii), in order to reside in the United States.

The USCIS initially determined that the applicant’s adverse factors outweighed her favorable factors, and denied her I-212 Waiver.

On appeal, it was asserted that the USCIS made several legal errors, including failing to consider the applicant’s many favorable factors, the lack of unfavorable factors, evidence of hardship submitted, and the cumulative effect of hardship on the applicant and her spouse.

In addition, it was asserted that the USCIS applied an extreme hardship standard instead of the required balancing of equities standard; and that her favorable factors outweigh her adverse factors.

Section 212(a)(9) of the Act states in pertinent part:

(A) Certain aliens previously removed.-

(i) Arriving aliens.- Any alien who has been ordered removed under section 235(b )(1) or at the end of proceedings under section 240 initiated upon the alien’s arrival in the United States and who again seeks admission within five years of the date of such removal (or within 20 years in the case of a second or subsequent removal or at any time in the case of an alien convicted of an aggravated felony) is inadmissible.

(ii) Other aliens.-Any alien not described in clause (i) who-

(I) has been ordered removed under section 240 or any other provision of law, or
(II) departed the United States while an order of removal was outstanding, and who seeks admission within 10 years of the date of such alien’s departure or removal (or within 20 years  of such date in the case of a second or subsequent removal or at any time in the case of an alien convicted of an aggravated felony) is inadmissible.

(iii) Exception.- Clauses (i) and (ii) shall not apply to an alien seeking admission within a period if, prior to the date of the alien’s re-embarkation at a place outside the United States or attempt to be admitted from foreign contiguous territory, the Secretary has consented to the alien’s reapplying for admission.

In Matter of Tin, 14 I&N Dec. 371 (Reg. Comm. 1973), the Regional Commissioner listed the following factors to be considered in the adjudication of a Form I-212 Application for Permission to Reapply After Deportation:

  • The basis for deportation;
  • recency of deportation;
  • length of residence in the United States;
  • applicant’s moral character;
  • his respect for law and order;
  • evidence of reformation and rehabilitation;
  • family responsibilities;
  • any inadmissibility under other sections of law;
  • hardship involved to himself and others;
  • and the need for his services in the United States.

In Tin, the Regional Commissioner noted that the applicant had gained an equity job experience while being unlawfully present in the United States. The Regional Commissioner then stated that the alien had obtained an advantage over aliens seeking visa issuance abroad or who abide by the terms of their admission while in this country, and he concluded that approval of an application for permission to reapply for admission would condone the alien’s acts and could encourage others to enter the United States to work in the United States unlawfully. Id.

Matter of Lee, 17 I&N Dec. 275 (Comm. 1978) further held that a record of immigration violations, standing alone, did not conclusively support a finding of a lack of good moral character. Matter of Lee at 278.  Lee additionally held that,

“[T]he recency of deportation can only be considered when there is a finding of poor moral character based on moral turpitude in the conduct and attitude of a person which evinces a callous conscience [toward the violation of immigration laws] ….In all other instances when the cause of deportation has been removed and the person now appears eligible for issuance of a visa, the time factor should not be considered. Id.”

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals held in Garcia-Lopes v. INS, 923 F.2d 72 (ih Cir. 1991), that less weight is given to equities acquired after a deportation order has been entered.  Further, the equity of a marriage and the weight given to any hardship to the spouse is diminished if the parties married after the commencement of deportation proceedings, with knowledge that the alien might be deported.

It is also noted that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, in Carnalla-Munoz v. INS, 627 F.2d 1004 (2~h Cir. 1980), held that an after-acquired equity, referred to as an after-acquired family tie in Matter of Tijam, 22 I&N Dec. 408 (BIA 1998), need not be accorded great weight by the district director in a discretionary determination.

Moreover, in Ghassan v. INS, 972 F.2d 631, 634-35 (5th Cir. 1992), the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals held that giving diminished weight to hardship faced by a spouse who entered into a marriage with knowledge of the alien’s possible deportation was proper.

In the present case, the AAO found that these legal decisions establish the general principle that “after-acquired equities” are accorded less weight for purposes of assessing favorable equities in the exercise of discretion.

The applicant and her spouse were married after her expedited removal from the United States; therefore their marriage and hardship were considered to be after-acquired equities and less weight was accorded for these favorable factors.

The I-212 waiver and appeal generally included, but was not limited to:

  • statements from the applicant and her spouse
  • psychological evaluations of the applicant and her spouse
  • medical records
  • financial records
  • statements from friends and family members
  • photographs and country conditions information about Mexico.

The favorable factors in this case that warranted approval of the applicant’s I-212 waiver by the AAO include:

  • the applicant’s lack of a criminal record;
  • her U.S. citizen spouse;
  • an approved Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative;
  • hardship to the applicant; and
  • hardship to her spouse.

Specifically, concerning the applicant’s own hardship:

  • the applicant stated that she is suffering from severe clinical depression, panic and anxiety attacks, inability to sleep, weight fluctuation, hair loss, and bad moods.
  • A psychologist diagnosed her with symptoms of major episodic depression and generalized anxiety disorder.

Concerning the applicant’s spouse’s hardship:

  • the applicant’s spouse states that he was diagnosed with depression and anxiety disorder;
  • he has developed insomnia;
  • he has become lethargic;
  • he has gained 30 pounds;
  • he was prescribed medication for depression, anxiety and insomnia;
  • he approached his employer about working in Mexico part-time but was denied;
  • he and the applicant want to start a family;
  • he would have to give up his career of 14 years and professional license if he left the United States;
  • he has no family ties in Mexico;
  • he has lived his entire life in the United States and does not speak Spanish;
  • his parents and siblings are in the United States; and
  • Guadalajara is a dangerous area.

A psychologist who has evaluated the applicant’s spouse states that:

  • the applicant’s spouse suffers from depression, anxiety, and panic attacks;
  • he is taking medication for these issues;
  • he has evaluated the applicant’s spouse multiple times and finds that the applicant’s spouse’s condition has steadily deteriorated;
  • the diagnosis of depressive disorder has become major depressive disorder;
  • his generalized anxiety disorder has become panic disorder; and
  • he continues to suffer from insomnia.

The I-212 waiver and appeal also included:

  • articles addressing safety issues in Mexico;
  • statement from the applicant showing that she expresses remorse for her actions;
  • proof that the applicant has paid taxes on her earnings as a nanny while in the United States;
  • statements from friends and family describing the applicant’s good character

The AAO found that the unfavorable factors in this case includes:

  • the applicant’s period of unauthorized stay during her last visit to the United States;
  • her brief period of unauthorized employment;
  • the applicant was out of status for 53 days (noted by the AAO to be a relatively short period of time)

After a careful review of the record, the AAO found that the applicant established that the favorable factors outweigh the unfavorable factors in her case and that a favorable exercise of the Secretary’s discretion was warranted.

In weighing the favorable and unfavorable factors, the AAO determined that certain favorable factors were not after-acquired equities.  In addition, although less weight was given to the applicant’s after-acquired equities, these equities were still considered relatively significant due to the nature of the hardship detailed in the record.

In application proceedings it is the applicant’s burden to establish eligibility for the immigration benefit sought. Section 291 of the Act, 8 U.S.C. § 1361. Here, the AAO found that burden had been met and the applicant’s I-212 waiver was approved.