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Chapter 2: Overview of Fraud and Willful Misrepresentation


A. General


An applicant may be found inadmissible if he or she obtains a benefit under the INA either through: 


  • Fraud; or

  • Willful misrepresentation.


Although fraud and willful misrepresentation are distinct actions for inadmissibility purposes, they share common elements. All of the elements necessary for a finding of inadmissibility based on willful misrepresentation are also needed for a finding of inadmissibility based on fraud. However, a fraud finding requires two additional elements. 


This is why a person who is inadmissible for fraud is always also inadmissible for willful misrepresentation. However, the opposite is not necessarily true: a person inadmissible for willful misrepresentation is not necessarily inadmissible for fraud.[1] For more on the interplay between findings of fraud and willful misrepresentation, see Section D, Comparing Fraud and Willful Misrepresentation [8 USCIS-PM J.2(D)]. 


Additionally, misrepresentation of a material fact may lead to other adverse immigration consequences. For example, if the beneficiary commits marriage fraud, it may have adverse immigration consequences for both the petitioner and the beneficiary. 


B. Willful Misrepresentation


Inadmissibility based on willful misrepresentation requires a finding that a person willfully misrepresented a material fact.[2] See INA 212(a)(6)(C)(i). For a definition of materiality, see Chapter 3, Adjudicating Inadmissibility, Section E, Materiality [8 USCIS-PM J.3(E)]. For a person to be inadmissible, the officer must find all of the following elements: 


  • The person procured, or sought to procure, a benefit under U.S. immigration laws;


  • The person made a false representation; 


  • The false representation was willfully made; 


  • The false representation was material; and



If all of the above elements are present, then the person is inadmissible for willful misrepresentation. 


If the person succeeded in obtaining the benefit under the INA, he or she would be inadmissible for having procured the benefit by willful misrepresentation. If the attempt was not successful,[4] For example, the misrepresentation was detected and the benefit was denied. the person would still be inadmissible for having “sought to procure” the immigration benefit by willful misrepresentation. In each case, evidence of intent to deceive is not required.[5] See Matter of Kai Hing Hui, 15 I&N Dec. 288, 289-90 (BIA 1975).


C. Fraud


Inadmissibility based on fraud requires a finding that a person knowingly made a false representation of a material fact with the intent to deceive the other party.[6] See Matter of Tijam, 22 I&N Dec. 408, 424 (BIA 1998). 


For a person to be inadmissible for having procured entry, a visa, other documentation, or any other benefit under the INA by fraud, the officer must find all of the following elements: 

  • The person procured, or sought to procure, a benefit under U.S. immigration laws;


  • The person made a false representation;


  • The false representation was willfully made; 


  • The false representation was material; 





If all of the above elements are present, then the person is inadmissible for having procured an immigration benefit by fraud. Since the elements required for fraud also include the elements for willful misrepresentation, the person is also inadmissible for willful misrepresentation.


If the person was unsuccessful in obtaining the benefit,[10] For example, the fraud was detected and the benefit was denied. he or she may still be inadmissible for having “sought to procure” the immigration benefit by fraud. In this case, the fraud element requiring the U.S. government official to believe and act upon the false representation is not applicable; however, intent to deceive is still a required element. 


In cases of attempted fraud, it may be difficult to establish the person’s intent to deceive because the fraud has not actually succeeded. However, establishing intent to deceive may be unnecessary; if evidence supports a finding of willful misrepresentation, which does not require intent to deceive,[11] See Matter of Kai Hing Hui, 15 I&N Dec. 288, 289-90 (BIA 1975). then the person is already considered inadmissible without any further determination of fraud. 


D. Comparing Fraud and Willful Misrepresentation


In practice, the distinction between fraud and willful misrepresentation is not greatly significant because either fraud or a willful misrepresentation alone is sufficient to establish inadmissibility.


The following table shows a comparison of the elements required for each ground:


Comparing Fraud and Willful Misrepresentation


Elements Required for a Finding of …

Scenario

Willful

Misrepresentation

Fraud

The person procured, or sought to procure, a benefit under U.S. immigration laws.

x

x

The person made a false representation.

x

x

The false representation was willfully made.

x

x

The false representation was material. 

x

x

The false representation was made to a U.S. government official.

x

x

When making the false representation, the person intended to deceive a U.S. government official authorized to act upon the request (generally an immigration or consular officer).

Not Applicable

x

The U.S. government official believed and acted upon the false representation.

Not Applicable

x

(Not applicable if fraud finding based on “seeking to procure” benefit)


As the table illustrates, a fraud finding encompasses a willful misrepresentation finding. Therefore, if all the elements are present to make a finding of fraud, then the elements for making a finding of willful misrepresentation must also necessarily be present. 


Example: 


The officer finds that a person obtained an immigration benefit by fraud. The person is then inadmissible for both fraud[12] See Matter of B- and P-, 2 I&N Dec. 638, 651 (A.G. 1947).  and willful misrepresentation. 


Example: 


The officer finds that there was no intent to deceive, but the other elements of fraud are present. The person is not inadmissible based on fraud but is still inadmissible for willful misrepresentation.[13] See Matter of Kai Hing Hui, 15 I&N Dec. 288, 290 (“We interpret the Attorney General's decision in Matter of S- and B-C- as one which modified Matter of G-G- so that the intent to deceive is no longer required before the willful misrepresentation charge comes into play.”).  


E. Overview of Admissibility Determination 


A finding of willful misrepresentation or fraud requires certain determinations. If the evidence indicates that the person may be inadmissible due to fraud or willful misrepresentation, the officer should follow the steps in the table below to determine inadmissibility:


Overview of Admissibility Determination

Step

For More Information

Step 1

Determine whether the person procured, or sought to procure, a benefit under U.S. immigration laws.

Chapter 3, Adjudicating InadmissibilitySection B, Procuring a Benefit under the INA [8 USCIS-PM J.3(B)] 

Step 2

Determine whether the person made a false representation.

Chapter 3, Adjudicating InadmissibilitySection C, False Representation [8 USCIS-PM J.3(C)]

Step 3

Determine whether the false representation was willfully made.

Chapter 3, Adjudicating InadmissibilitySection D, Willfulness [8 USCIS-PM J.3(D)]

Step 4

Determine whether the false representation was material.

Chapter 3, Adjudicating InadmissibilitySection E, Materiality [8 USCIS-PM J.3(E)]

Step 5

Determine whether the false representation was made to a U.S. Government official.

Chapter 3, Adjudicating InadmissibilitySection F, Fraud or Willful Misrepresentation Must Be Made to a U.S. Government Official [8 USCIS-PM J.3(F)]

Step 6

Determine whether, when making the false representation, the person intended to deceive a U.S. government official authorized to act upon request (generally an immigration or consular officer).

Chapter 3, Adjudicating InadmissibilitySection G, Elements Only Applicable to Fraud [8 USCIS-PM J.3(G)]

Step 7

Determine whether the U.S. government official believed and acted upon the false representation.

Chapter 3, Adjudicating InadmissibilitySection G, Elements Only Applicable to Fraud [8 USCIS-PM J.3(G)]

Step 8

Determine whether a waiver of inadmissibility is available.

Volume 9, Waivers[14] For guidance on the waiver of the fraud and willful misrepresentation inadmissibility ground under INA 212(i), see Volume 9, Waivers, Part G, Waivers for Fraud and Willful Misrepresentation [9 USCIS-PM G].


When making the inadmissibility determination, the officer should keep in mind the severe nature of the penalty for fraud or willful misrepresentation. The person will be barred from admission for the rest of his or her life unless the person qualifies for and is granted a waiver. The officer should examine all facts and circumstances when evaluating inadmissibility for fraud or willful misrepresentation.[15] See 9 FAM 40.63, Note 1.3, Application of INA 212(a)(6)(C)(i), Nature of Penalty.





Footnotes


1. [^] 

 For more on the interplay between findings of fraud and willful misrepresentation, see Section D, Comparing Fraud and Willful Misrepresentation [8 USCIS-PM J.2(D)].

2. [^] 

 See INA 212(a)(6)(C)(i). For a definition of materiality, see Chapter 3, Adjudicating InadmissibilitySection E, Materiality [8 USCIS-PM J.3(E)].

3. [^] 

 See Matter of Y-G-, 20 I&N Dec. 794, 796 (BIA 1994).

4. [^] 

 For example, the misrepresentation was detected and the benefit was denied.

5. [^] 

 See Matter of Kai Hing Hui, 15 I&N Dec. 288, 289-90 (BIA 1975).

6. [^] 

 See Matter of Tijam, 22 I&N Dec. 408, 424 (BIA 1998). 

7. [^] 

 See Matter of Y-G-, 20 I&N Dec. 794, 796 (BIA 1994).

8. [^] 

 See Matter of Tijam, 22 I&N Dec. 408, 424 (BIA 1998). 

9. [^] 

 See Matter of G- G-, 7 I&N Dec. 161 (BIA 1956). 

10. [^] 

 For example, the fraud was detected and the benefit was denied.

11. [^] 

 See Matter of Kai Hing Hui, 15 I&N Dec. 288, 289-90 (BIA 1975).

12. [^] 

 See Matter of B- and P-, 2 I&N Dec. 638, 651 (A.G. 1947). 

13. [^] 

 See Matter of Kai Hing Hui, 15 I&N Dec. 288, 290 (“We interpret the Attorney General's decision in Matter of S- and B-C- as one which modified Matter of G-G- so that the intent to deceive is no longer required before the willful misrepresentation charge comes into play.”). 

14. [^] 

 For guidance on the waiver of the fraud and willful misrepresentation inadmissibility ground under INA 212(i), see Volume 9, Waivers, Part G, Waivers for Fraud and Willful Misrepresentation [9 USCIS-PM G].

15. [^] 

 See 9 FAM 40.63Note 1.3Application of INA 212(a)(6)(C)(i)Nature of Penalty.



Current as of July 1, 2014