Chapter 1: Purpose and Background

A. Purpose​

T​o properly control movement across its borders, a government must be ​able to scrutinize and ​assess ​a​ person​’s identity a​s part of​determin​ing​ eligib​ility to enter. If a foreign national​ willfully provides incorrect information about identity and intentions ​for ​enter​ing ​th​e​ country, the ​person has deprived the ​government of its​ right to ​examine​ the​request for admission.​ [1] See Matter of B- and P-, 2 I&N Dec. 638, 645-46 (A.G. 1947).

In recognition of these principles, Congress provided a specific ground of inadmissibility to address the use of fraud or willful misrepresentation when obtaining a benefit under ​the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)​. ​

Ther​e are exceptions and waivers to​ inadmissibility due to ​fraud or willful misrepresentation ​a​vailable to a person​ under certain circumstances ​depending on the particular immigration benefit ​the person ​is seeking.​ [2] For more on the waiver of fraud or willful misrepresentation under INA 212(i), see Volume 9, Waivers, Part G, Waivers for Fraud and Willful Misrepresentation [9 USCIS-PM G].

B. Background​

The 1924 Immigration Act​ [3] See Immigration Act of 1924, Pub. L. 68-139, sections 22(b) and 22(c) (May 26, 1924). made obtain​ing​ a visa under a false name or submit​ting​ false evidence in support of a visa application​ a federal crime​. ​The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) and the courts used this principle to find that a visa obtained by fraud was no vi​sa at all, making the person​’s admission with a fraudulent visa unlawful.​ [4] See Matter of B- and P-, 2 I&N Dec. 638, 640-41 (A.G. 1947), citing McCandless v. Murphy, 47 F.2d 1072 (3rd Cir. 1931). See United States ex rel. Leibowitz v. Schlotfeldt, 94 F.2d 263 (7th Cir. 1938). See United States ex rel. Fink v. Reimer, 96 F.2d 217 (2nd Cir. 1938).

Congress codified the BIA’s and the courts’ approach in the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952. With former INA 212(a​)(​19), it created a new bar to admission​for any applicant who used fraud or willful misrepresentation to gain entry into the ​United States​ or obtain a visa or other documentation.​ [5] Former INA 212(a)(19) made inadmissible any applicant who “seeks to procure, or has sought to procure or has procured a visa or other documentation, or seeks to enter the United States by fraud, or by willfully misrepresenting a material fact.” Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, Pub. L. 82-414 (June 27, 1952).

In 1986, Congress amended the bar so that ​a person​ could be found inadmissible for using fraud or willful misrepresentation when seeking any benefit under the INA, not just entry, visas, or other documents.​ [6] Congress expanded former INA 212(a)(19) to make one inadmissible for using fraud or willful misrepresentation in relation to “a visa, other documentation, or entry into the United States or other benefit provided under this Act.” See the Immigration Marriage Fraud Amendments of 1986, section 6(a), Pub. L. 99-639 (November 10, 1986). Congress re-designated ​former ​INA 212(a)(19) as ​INA 212(a)(6)(C)​ in 1990 ​but did not alter the bar to admission itself.​ [7] See the Immigration Act of 1990, section 601(a), Pub. L. 101-649 (November 29, 1990).Substantive changes to the inadmissibility ground did not come until 1996​when Congress passed the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act​ (IIRIRA).​ [8] See Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act, Pub. L. 104-208 (September 30, 1996).

With the passage of IIRIRA​, Congress​ created two separate inadmissibility grounds ​that remain unchanged to this day:​ [9] See Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act, section 344(a) Division C, Pub. L. 104-208 (September 30, 1996).

Fraud or​willful misrepresentation made in connection with obtaining an immigration benefit;​ [10] See INA 212(a)(6)(C)(i). and ​

False claim to U.S. citizenship made on or after September 30, 1996.​ [11] See INA 212(a)(6)(C)(ii).

These two grounds​ differ significantly​. This Part J only addresses the inadmissibility determination for fraud or​willful​misrepresentation made in connection with obtaining an immigration benefit. This includes, however, false claims to ​U.S.​ citizenship made prior to September 30, 1996. ​

F​oreign national​s who​ made a false claim to U.S. citizenship prior to Se​ptember 30, 1996, ​cannot be found inadmissible under the false claim to U.S. citizenship ground of inadmissibility​.​ [12] See INA 212(a)(6)(C)(ii). IIRIRA made this ground applicable only to false claims made on or after September 30, 1996.​ [13] See Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act, section 344(c), Pub. L. 104-208 (September 30, 1996).

Therefore, for false claims to U.S. citizenship made before September 30, 1996, the officer must an​alyze the person​’s inadmissibility according to the general fraud and willful misrepresentation ground of inadmissibility, as outlined in this Part J.​ [14] See INA 212(a)(6)(C)(i).

C. S​cope​

This guidance addresses inadmissibility for fraud and willful misrepresentation​ [15] See INA 212(a)(6)(C)(i). Inadmissibility for falsely claiming U.S. citizenship on or after September 30, 1996 is a separate inadmissibility ground. See INA 212(a)(6)(C)(ii). in relation to obtaining a benefit under ​the ​INA​, including inadmissibility for falsely claiming U.S. citizenship before September 30, 1996.​

D. Legal Authorit​ies​

INA 212(a)(6)(C)(i)​ – ​Illegal ​Entrants and I​mmigration ​V​iolators - Misrepresentation​