BIA Holds that Adjustment of Status Constitutes an Admission for Purposes of Applying for a Fraud Waiver Under INA Section 237(a)(1)(H)

BIA holds that adjustment of status constitutes an admission for purposes of determining an immigrant’s eligibility to apply for a waiver under INA Section 237(a)(1)(H)

I-601 Waiver Legal News

Matter of Agour, 26 I&N Dec. 566 (BIA 2015)

At issue in this case was whether a section 237(a)(1)(H) waiver for certain fraud or misrepresentation at the time of admission is available to aliens who commit fraud in the process of adjusting their status within the United States.

INA section 237(a)(1)(H) states:

(H) Waiver authorized for certain misrepresentations.

The provisions of this paragraph relating to the removal of aliens within the United States on the ground that they were inadmissible at the time of admission as aliens described in section 212(a)(6)(C)(i), whether willful or innocent, may, in the discretion of the Attorney General, be waived for any alien (other than an alien described in paragraph (4)(D)) who–

(i) (I) is the spouse, parent, son or daughter of a citizen of the United States or an alien lawfully admitted to the United States for permanent residence; and

(II) was in possession of an immigrant visa or equivalent document and was otherwise admissible to the United States at the time of such admission except for those grounds of inadmissibility specified under paragraphs (5)(A) and (7)(A) of section 212(a) which were a direct result of that fraud or misrepresentation.

(ii) is a VAWA self-petitioner. A waiver of removal for fraud or misrepresentation granted under this subparagraph shall also operate to waive removal based on the grounds of inadmissibility directly resulting from such fraud or misrepresentation.

INA § 237(a)(1)(H) thus provides a discretionary waiver in removal proceedings for certain misrepresentations and fraud at admission that would otherwise render deportable a lawful permanent resident (LPR) or a self-petitioner under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

The applicant is a native and citizen of Morocco who was admitted to the United States on a nonimmigrant visitor visa in 1999.  In July 2001, she married a United States citizen who then filed a visa petition on her behalf.  In 2002, the applicant was granted conditional permanent resident status pursuant to section 216(a) of the Act, 8 U.S.C. § 1186a(a) (2000). The conditional basis of respondent’s permanent residence was removed in 2005 by the approval of a jointly filed Form I-751 (Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence).

The Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) filed a notice to appear with the Immigration Court on September 5, 2008, charging the respondent with being removable under section 237(a)(1)(A) of the Act, as an alien who is inadmissible based on fraud or misrepresentation under section 212(a)(6)(C)(i) of the Act, 8 U.S.C. § 1182(a)(6)(C)(i) (2006).

This charge was based on allegations that the respondent procured her adjustment of status by fraud or by willfully misrepresenting a material fact when she married for the sole purpose of obtaining permanent residence in the United States.

The applicant sought to waive fraud that occurred after her initial entry into the United States as a nonimmigrant. The question was whether an adjustment of status can be an admission for purposes of the section 237(a)(1)(H) waiver.

Prior BIA decisions discussing the section 237(a)(1)(H) waiver involved aliens admitted to the United States with immigrant visas who were then charged with being removable for fraud or misrepresentation in that initial entry. See, e.g., Matter of Federiso, 24 I&N Dec. 661 (BIA 2008), overruled on other grounds, Federiso v. Holder, 605 F.3d 695 (9th Cir. 2010); Matter of Fu, 23 I&N Dec. 985 (BIA 2006).

The BIA in this case concluded that an alien’s adjustment of status within the United States constitutes an admission for purposes of the waiver at section 237(a)(1)(H) of the Act.

The Section 237(a)(1)(H) waiver is thus not limited only to those aliens who engage in fraud or misrepresentation at the time of entry into the United States with an immigrant visa.  An alien who commits fraud in the course of adjusting status in the United States may waive removal under section 237(a)(1)(A) of the Act as an alien who was inadmissible at the time of adjustment of status based on fraud or misrepresentation.