By Reuben S. Seguritan

Fraud or willful misrepresentation of a material fact is a ground of inadmissibility that prevents an alien from getting a green card. The act of entering the United States under a different name is an example.

However, the alien may apply for a waiver to forgive the fraud. To be eligible for this waiver, the alien must have a qualifying relative. The law considers only U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouses or parents to be qualifying relatives. Children are not qualifying relatives for purposes of the waiver.

The alien must demonstrate extreme hardship to the qualifying relative in case of a finding of inadmissibility. Several factors are relevant in determining extreme hardship, including the qualifying relative’s family ties in the United States; political and economic conditions in the country of relocation; the financial impact of departure from the U.S.; and health conditions along with the unavailability of suitable medical care in the country of relocation.

Not only must these eligibility requirements be met, but the alien must also show that his/her case warrants a grant of waiver in the exercise of discretion. The negative factors must be balanced with the equities or the social and humane considerations in one’s case.

Obtaining a waiver therefore is not easy, but by no means is it impossible. In a case that our firm recently handled, we were able to help a client get his green card despite the misrepresentation he committed as he entered the U.S. with an assumed name more than thirty years ago.

Our client left the Philippines in the early 1980s to escape poverty and political strife, entered the U.S. using a passport and B-2 visa with a different name, and remained past his authorized period of stay.

Two years later, he met a fellow recent immigrant who was working as a nurse at a New York hospital and would later get her green card and then her U.S. citizenship. They fell in love, had children, and lived together as husband and wife ever since.

For many years, our client kept secret his immigration status from other people until he neared retirement age. Unless he becomes a lawful permanent resident, all his hard work and perseverance since he arrived in the U.S. would be for naught. He had to come to terms with his past and decide whether to finally apply for a green card.

Faced with the possibility of being denied a green card if found ineligible for a waiver and eventually placed in deportation, he sought our firm’s assistance.

We showed the immigration authorities that his U.S. citizen wife would suffer extreme hardship whether she remains in the United States by herself or is forced to relocate to the Philippines to be with our client.

We submitted proof of her health conditions, including diabetes and hypertension, for which she was receiving top-notch medical care in the U.S., and compared that with the high cost of medicines and treatment in the Philippines. We pointed out that the wife has many family ties in the U.S., including her U.S. citizen children, while she no longer has family in the Philippines.

We also argued that relocation would cause financial hardship because she would lose her job at the hospital in the U.S. but most likely not get hired in the Philippines because of her age and the unfavorable labor market conditions for nurses there.

Our waiver packet included supporting affidavits and documentation to evidence the wife’s extreme hardship as well as our client’s good moral character.

Fortunately, we were able to convince the USCIS that the U.S. citizen wife would face extreme hardship if the waiver is denied and that our client was deserving of a favorable exercise of discretion.