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Opinion

Caught through her fingerprints

IMMIGRATION CORNER - Michael J. Gurfinkel - The Philippine Star

Dear Attorney Gurfinkel:

In 2002, I was petitioned as a married daughter (F3) by my US citizen mother. The priority date became current, and I was excited to be scheduled for my interview. However, at the interview, the consul asked me if I had ever used any other name. Of course, I said “no.” The consul then asked if I had ever used a particular name, which I did not recognize, and I again replied “no.” The consul then held up a sheet of paper with my picture on it, which was a visa application under a different name.

I was stunned and shocked, and I suddenly remembered that in 2004, I tried to apply for a visitor visa under a different name and was caught. How was the embassy able to find out and match me to that old application under a different name? And how will this affect my mother’s petition?

Very truly yours,

RD

Dear RD:

When a person applies for a visa, whether immigrant or non-immigrant, they must submit their photo, and they are fingerprinted. When you applied for the visitor visa, it is likely that you were fingerprinted. The embassy maintains records of visa applications and fingerprints in their database. When you recently submitted your fingerprints in connection with your mother’s petition, the embassy ran your fingerprints in its database and came up with a match to the fingerprints from your 2004 visitor visa application. Even though you used a different name when you were caught, your fingerprints remained the same, and they matched the real you.

As a result of your 2004 attempts at obtaining a visitor visa under a different name, you have fraud on your record. Before you or your family would be eligible for your immigrant visas, you would need to obtain a fraud waiver (or forgiveness). A fraud waiver requires that a person has a spouse or parent who is a US citizen or lawful permanent resident (called a “qualifying relative”) and the qualifying relative will suffer “extreme hardship” if your visa is denied.

I would recommend that you consult with an attorney who can help you prepare, package and submit the fraud waiver. But let this be a lesson to people with previous applications at the embassy: that they were fingerprinted and photographed, and their old applications can be discovered based on fingerprints. Therefore, it would do you no good to lie or deny any previous fraud because your fingerprints don’t lie.

*      *      *

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