BIA Clarifies Definition of Misrepresentation in Adjustment Application
Have you ever had a client claim that a notary filed an application for immigration benefits that he signed, but never read; and that he never understand what he was actually claiming in the application? If you haven’t, you will, because it is actually quite common.
In a recent Board of Immigration Appeals decision, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services approved an application for adjustment of status for a religious worker, which was later discovered to be based on a willful misrepresentation. Matter of A.J. Valdez, 27 I&N Dec. 496 (BIA 2018). The applicant claimed to be ignorant of this misrepresentation because he never read the application, and no one ever translated or explained the contents to him. The BIA found that the applicant committed willful misrepresentation, and clarified the standard in these types of cases.
The Board found that an applicant’s signature “establishes a strong presumption that he or she knows the contents of the application and has assented to them.” This presumption can be rebutted through evidence that the applicant was misled and deceived by the representative. However, it is not enough to claim ignorance of the application’s contents or a lack of English comprehension. In the case at issue, the BIA found that the applicant’s statements were not credible and his claim of ignorance was implausible. Instead, the BIA found that the applicant made a conscious choice to avoid knowing about the misrepresentations in the application.
Before assisting clients in this situation, find out what the representative told or showed the client before and then assess whether he or she is vulnerable to a finding of willful misrepresentation.