Is lying to an officer at the border enough to make me inadmissible to the United States for life?

The answer to this question is a nuanced YES.

Section 212 (a)(6)(C) states:

(i) In general.-Any alien who, by fraud or willfully misrepresenting a material fact, seeks to procure (or has sought to procure or has procured) a visa, other documentation, or admission into the United States or other benefit provided under this Act is inadmissible.

The inadmissibility that results from this violation of immigration law is a lifetime bar to entry.

The key to this analysis lies in whether the misrepresentation was “material.”  The definition of materiality as used in U.S. immigration law is whether the statement that you represented as true, but that was actually false, was of such a nature that if the officer knew the true facts, he would denied you entry to the United States.

So, for example, if the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer inspecting you at the port of entry asks whether you have ever committed a crime, and you have but it was a summary (or misdemeanor) offence and you say “no,” you would still be admissible to enter the United States.  This is because, simply committing a crime is not enough to make one inadmissible.  That crime (with the exception of drug related offences) must ALSO be one involving moral turpitude AND must have been an indictable offence carrying a maximum sentence of at least one year in prison.  See INA Section 212(a)(2)(A)(ii)(II).  Because the crime itself did not make you inadmissible under Section (2)(A), the misrepresentation is not considered a material fact, and you are therefore also not inadmissible under Section (6)(C).

However, I have seen many Canadians become inadmissible under (6)(C) as a result of first telling a CBP officer one thing, being denied entry, then going to a different port of entry and telling a different story.  The second officer checks his database, sees the misrepresentation and not only denies the individual entry, but issues an expedited removal based on the (6)(C) ground of inadmissibility.

Fortunately, this ground of inadmissibility is waivable at the U.S. Attorney General’s discretion.   A formal waiver application must be submitted to the Admissibility Review Office.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.