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CM_LOH

Question about time spent in USA previously.

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I am a Canadian woman who recently married an American. We are currently waiting for an NOA2 for the I-130 my husband filed.

I was in the USA without a visa for approximately 7 years, and returned to Canada on my own about 7 years ago. As a Canadian, I was not required to have a visa or even a passport to enter the USA at that time. I did not work in the USA, I was not deported, I had no issues or run-ins with the law or any sort of immigration or customs officials at any time. When I entered the USA about 14 years ago, I did not plan on staying, but the situation with my then-husband deteriorated and I ended up staying in the USA, and divorcing him. My ex-husband is Canadian and stayed in Canada, he did not enter the USA with me. When I returned to Canada, I did tell the customs officials at the border how long I had been in the USA and declared my personal items that I was bringing back with me into Canada, they had no problem with this. Also, I did have an American Driver's License, as my Canadian one had expired while I was in the USA and so I got a new one there. So I assume that there will be some records somewhere of me being in the USA back then.

How will my time in the USA affect our application for my green card to move to the USA and live with my new husband and work in the USA? Can this have a negative effect on our application? If I do not reveal this information, and they find out, can this be grounds for a denial?

I'm scared to tell them, but I'm also scared not to. I realize that I should be as truthful as possible, and want to do so, but I'm concerned that my extended time in the USA will hurt our chances of being approved.

Edited by CM_LOH

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I was in the USA without a visa for approximately 7 years, and returned to Canada on my own about 7 years ago. As a Canadian, I was not required to have a visa or even a passport to enter the USA at that time. I did not work in the USA, I was not deported, I had no issues or run-ins with the law or any sort of immigration or customs officials at any time. When I entered the USA about 14 years ago, I did not plan on staying, but the situation with my then-husband deteriorated and I ended up staying in the USA, and divorcing him.

Regarding the statement I put in bold, be that as it may, you overstayed your authorized time in the US and you did so for over a year, then voluntarily left. When you left the US, you triggered a 10 year re-entry ban that in your case, has 3 years remaining unless a waiver is obtained.

How will my time in the USA affect our application for my green card to move to the USA and live with my new husband and work in the USA? Can this have a negative effect on our application?

See above

If I do not reveal this information, and they find out, can this be grounds for a denial?

Absolutely, and the grounds for denial would be Material Misrepresentation. The penalty for Material Misrepresentation is a permanent entry ban to the US.

I'm scared to tell them, but I'm also scared not to. I realize that I should be as truthful as possible, and want to do so, but I'm concerned that my extended time in the USA will hurt our chances of being approved.

You must tell the truth, and you must be prepared to file a waiver or wait out the remaining years on the incurred ban.


Our journey:

Spoiler

September 2007: Met online via social networking site (MySpace); began exchanging messages.
March 26, 2009: We become a couple!
September 10, 2009: Arrived for first meeting in-person!
June 17, 2010: Arrived for second in-person meeting and start of travel together to other areas of China!
June 21, 2010: Engaged!!!
September 1, 2010: Switched course from K1 to CR-1
December 8, 2010: Wedding date set; it will be on February 18, 2011!
February 9, 2011: Depart for China
February 11, 2011: Registered for marriage in Wuhan, officially married!!!
February 18, 2011: Wedding ceremony in Shiyan!!!
April 22, 2011: Mailed I-130 to Chicago
April 28, 2011: Received NOA1 via text/email, file routed to CSC (priority date April 25th)
April 29, 2011: Updated
May 3, 2011: Received NOA1 hardcopy in mail
July 26, 2011: Received NOA2 via text/email!!!
July 30, 2011: Received NOA2 hardcopy in mail
August 8, 2011: NVC received file
September 1, 2011: NVC case number assigned
September 2, 2011: AOS invoice received, OPTIN email for EP sent
September 7, 2011: Paid AOS bill (payment portal showed PAID on September 9, 2011)
September 8, 2011: OPTIN email accepted, GZO number assigned
September 10, 2011: Emailed AOS package
September 12, 2011: IV bill invoiced
September 13, 2011: Paid IV bill (payment portal showed PAID on September 14, 2011)
September 14, 2011: Emailed IV package
October 3, 2011: Emailed checklist response (checklist generated due to typo on Form DS-230)
October 6, 2011: Case complete at NVC
November 10, 2011: Interview - APPROVED!!!
December 7, 2011: POE - Sea-Tac Airport

September 17, 2013: Mailed I-751 to CSC

September 23, 2013: Received NOA1 in mail (receipt date September 19th)

October 16, 2013: Biometrics Appointment

January 28, 2014: Production of new Green Card ordered

February 3, 2014: New Green Card received; done with USCIS until fall of 2023*

 

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I second Ryan's post.

It may be scary to tell the truth, but lying here could end your American dream forever.


There is no room in this country for hyphenated Americanism. When I refer to hyphenated Americans, I do not refer to naturalized Americans. Some of the very best Americans I have ever known were naturalized Americans, Americans born abroad. But a hyphenated American is not an American at all . . . . The one absolutely certain way of bringing this nation to ruin, of preventing all possibility of its continuing to be a nation at all, would be to permit it to become a tangle of squabbling nationalities, an intricate knot of German-Americans, Irish-Americans, English-Americans, French-Americans, Scandinavian-Americans or Italian-Americans, each preserving its separate nationality, each at heart feeling more sympathy with Europeans of that nationality, than with the other citizens of the American Republic . . . . There is no such thing as a hyphenated American who is a good American. The only man who is a good American is the man who is an American and nothing else.

President Teddy Roosevelt on Columbus Day 1915

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As a Canadian, I was not required to have a visa or even a passport to enter the USA at that time. I did not work in the USA, I was not deported, I had no issues or run-ins with the law or any sort of immigration or customs officials at any time.

Even if you enter without a visa or passport, you're still not allowed to stay for 7 years. Your presence was unlawful regardless.

When I returned to Canada, I did tell the customs officials at the border how long I had been in the USA and declared my personal items that I was bringing back with me into Canada, they had no problem with this.

I'm assuming you're referring to the Canadian customs agents?

Canadian border officials don't care how long you stayed in the US or what your status there was. Their job is to make sure you're eligible to enter Canada, nothing else. Had you told the US border officials, you would have probably received a 10 year bar.

Also, I did have an American Driver's License, as my Canadian one had expired while I was in the USA and so I got a new one there. So I assume that there will be some records somewhere of me being in the USA back then.

How did you get a license? You should have needed a valid visa for that.. Do you remember if you may have claimed US citizenship to the DMV? This is a very important thing to remember as any false claim to US citizenship is pretty much a crime equal to rape and murder in the eyes of immigration, and carries a lifetime ban without the possibility of appeal or a waiver.

How will my time in the USA affect our application for my green card to move to the USA and live with my new husband and work in the USA? Can this have a negative effect on our application?

Absolutely. Id suggest getting a lawyer. Any unlawful presence in excess of one year is likely to incur a 10 year bar from entry. You being married to a US citizen won't help that. The bar would have started the moment you left the US.

Immediate relatives of US citizens are however eligible to file a waiver of inadmissibility if the US citizen can prove he/she or any children of yours will suffer extreme hardship if you're denied a visa. They'd also have to prove that they absolutely cannot live with you in Canada. For this, i suggest reading some of the threads in the I-601 waiver forum. And get a lawyer to see if you may qualify for a waiver.

If I do not reveal this information, and they find out, can this be grounds for a denial?I'm scared to tell them, but I'm also scared not to. I realize that I should be as truthful as possible, and want to do so, but I'm concerned that my extended time in the USA will hurt our chances of being approved.

Put it this way:

If you're honest - you'll likely have your visa denied, and be told to try again when the 10 year bar has passed. You'll also be eligible for an extreme hardship waiver.

If you lie - They'll most likely find out anyway, and your 10 year bar has now turned into a lifetime bar with almost no possibility of a waiver being granted.

I know it's harsh, but they don't take lightly to lengthy overstays.

Edited by jaejayC

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Even if you enter without a visa or passport, you're still not allowed to stay for 7 years. Your presence was unlawful regardless.

I'm assuming you're referring to the Canadian customs agents?

Canadian border officials don't care how long you stayed in the US or what your status there was. Their job is to make sure you're eligible to enter Canada, nothing else. Had you told the US border officials, you would have probably received a 10 year bar.

How did you get a license? You should have needed a valid visa for that.. Do you remember if you may have claimed US citizenship to the DMV? This is a very important thing to remember as any false claim to US citizenship is pretty much a crime equal to rape and murder in the eyes of immigration, and carries a lifetime ban without the possibility of appeal or a waiver.

Absolutely. Id suggest getting a lawyer. Any unlawful presence in excess of one year is likely to incur a 10 year bar from entry. You being married to a US citizen won't help that. The bar would have started the moment you left the US.

Immediate relatives of US citizens are however eligible to file a waiver of inadmissibility if the US citizen can prove he/she or any children of yours will suffer extreme hardship if you're denied a visa. They'd also have to prove that they absolutely cannot live with you in Canada. For this, i suggest reading some of the threads in the I-601 waiver forum. And get a lawyer to see if you may qualify for a waiver.

Put it this way:

If you're honest - you'll likely have your visa denied, and be told to try again when the 10 year bar has passed. You'll also be eligible for an extreme hardship waiver.

If you lie - They'll most likely find out anyway, and your 10 year bar has now turned into a lifetime bar with almost no possibility of a waiver being granted.

I know it's harsh, but they don't take lightly to lengthy overstays.

USCIS does not take it lightly when a visitor ignore our immigration laws. It's even worse when an applicant lies.

Remember it's not the crime. It's the coverup that usually gets people in trouble.

Disclose your unlawful presence in the US. Deal with the consequences of your actions. Be prepared to have your adjustment denied because of your actions. Get your waiver ready to file after receiving the denial.

If you lie or omit facts, you are looking at a permanent ban from the US. It's not going to be hard for USCIS to find records of your time in the US. USCIS will find out about your US driver's license. The DMV will disclose this fact to USCIS. If you used a credit card or debit card, there will be bank records of this. There is plenty of information out there to verify your unlawful presence in the US.

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