• True and false in visa applications

    3

    THE truth will set you free. False.

    At least not all the time. Or the more appropriate answer is, “It depends” especially in migration or visa applications.

    Maricar’s fiancée or K-1 visa application at the US Embassy in Manila is an example.

    Her intention to join her American fiance is true. A few of her declarations in her fiance visa application were false.

    Intentional or not, answering a question on a visa application could trigger a permanent bar, or being considered not eligible for visa issuance and entry into the country of choice.

    Maricar did not disclose the fact that she worked in Japan in 2000, and that she was able to get a true or genuine Japanese visa under a false or assumed name, “Michiko.”

    In addition, Michiko married a Japanese in the Philippines. She joined her husband Hayato in Japan. She even applied for a US tourist visa in Tokyo but was refused. Her marriage to Hayato turned “suppaidesu” or sour. The marriage ended in divorce – in Japan.

    She returned to the Philippines in 2010 as an unmarried Filipina in Japan, but remains legally married to her Japanese husband Hayato under Philippine laws since divorce is not recognized in this country.

    No matter: since love and life go on, Maricar refused to commit emotional hara kiri. She later met Kevin, a US citizen in 2013, first on an internet dating site, then in person after three months of email and webcam relationship.

    Kevin filed a fiancée petition for Maricar when he returned to Nebraska. The petition was approved by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services. After completing the documentary requirements with the National Visa Center, Maricar applied for her K-1 Fiancee visa at the US Embassy in Manila.

    During her first interview, Maricar was asked if she had ever applied for a US visa. She answered “No.” First lie.

    The consul stared at the information on his computer monitor, turned to Maricar again and asked the second time: “Have you ever applied for or been refused a US visa?” Pierced by the tone of the consul’s voice and a prick of her conscience, Maricar said, “Yes.”

    A series of questions and answers ensued after which Maricar’s entry into Japan as Michiko surfaced. The consul then asked her to get a police clearance in Japan under the name she was admitted as meaning “Michiko” and since she was issued a Philippine passport under her name “Michiko,” she was also asked to get an NBI clearance as “Michiko.”

    More than a year after, Maricar’s fiancée petition remained pending because Kevin got tired of waiting not only for Maricar to obtain the clearances, but primarily because he was furiously miffed that Maricar did not tell the truth about her being in Japan.

    Misrepresenting facts in a visa application is one of the most common – and serious – basis that visa officers use when refusing a visa application.

    Australian visa officers could refuse a visa application for a number of reasons such as previous overstaying in Australia, violating a visa condition, inability to meet Australia’s character or health requirements and providing wrong information or making a false claim on the application.

    A Canadian visa officer may refuse a visa applicant’s visa application on any grounds of inadmissibility such as misrepresentation and declare the applicant barred from entry into Canada for two years from the date of visa refusal based on fraud.

    In New Zealand, an immigration or visa officer can decline the application to enter New Zealand if the officer has reason to believe that the application or information obtained in the application is not genuine.

    A UK visa officer will first determine if there are any general grounds for refusing a visa application and then specify the reason for refusal. Among the factors considered are evidence of “adverse behavior (using deception, false representation, fraud, forgery, nondisclosure of material facts or failure to cooperate); non-conduciveness, adverse character, conduct or associations (criminal history, deportation order, travel ban, exclusion, non-conducive to public good, a threat to national security) as well as adverse immigration history (overstaying, breaching conditions, illegal entrant, using deception in an application).”

    And the US consul evaluating Maricar’s fiancée visa application?

    He refused to issue the visa application because Maricar did not disclose the fact that she had applied for – and was refused – a US visa in Japan; that she had used another name (“Michiko”) and continued to lie under oath during the interview.

    Up to this point, the truth held Maricar’s visa application captive. Her file was returned to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in Nebraska for appropriate action. Kevin could officially terminate the petition and close the case with a written notice of withdrawal to the USCIS.

    Or should love conquer the lie that Maricar committed, Kevin may invoke his right as a US citizen fiance; have Maricar apply for a waiver of misrepresentation which essentially is asking forgiveness for not telling the truth – on time.

    Remember that it was only when the US consul repeated the question – and sternly warned Maricar during the interview that she was under oath – did Maricar finally admitted to the misrepresentation.

    There is one final wrinkle – Maricar is still legally married under Philippine laws. That would be considered a legal impediment in their getting married in Nebraska since US immigration laws recognize the marriage laws of the country where the beneficiary is a national.

    Since it was Hayato who filed for divorce in Japan, Maricar was able to have that divorce recognized by a competent Philippine court. And, after submitting evidence of her ability to marry Kevin in the US, together with other documents required for a favorable decision on her application for a waiver of inadmissibility, the US consul turned Cupid and gave Maricar her K-1 visa.

    They were eventually reunited in Nebraska, America’s corn granary.

    It may be corny, but that’s the truth.

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