UNOFFICIAL "BACKDATING STAMPS" ON PASSPORTS AND TERMINATION OF LEGAL STATUS23 March 2012
Vivian has been a lawful permanent resident of the United States since 1999. She lives with her children. A few months after suffering from an illness, Vivian decided to return to the Philippines. She stayed in her hometown for more than two years where she eventually recovered from her illness. She now wants to return to the United States to reunite with her son.
Prior to returning to the United States, Vivian approached a man who was introduced to him as having “connections” to Philippine Immigration. In order to conceal her lengthy stay in the Philippines, this man told Vivian that he can place a stamp on her passport to indicate that she only left the United States for less than six months. Vivian entered into an agreement with this man and gave her passport.
After a few days, Vivian’s passport was returned to her with a stamp from Philippine Immigration showing a stamp of her false arrival in the Philippines. This stamp indicates that she stayed only for a few months in the Philippines instead of two years.
Vivian returned to the United States last month and presented her passport with the US immigration inspector. She was taken to secondary inspection where she was questioned more extensively on the dates stamped on her passport. She was warned prior to answering questions that she could be prosecuted for perjury regarding false testimony and may face fine or imprisonment. Vivian eventually gave in and admitted the truth to the US immigration inspector. She cried and begged that she be released and allowed to enter the United States.
The immigration inspector asked Vivian to sign her written testimony. She spent more than five hours at the secondary inspection office and was handed a Notice to Appear for Removal/Deportation Hearing before an immigration judge. Instead of returning to the Philippines that day, she was given a temporary permit to enter the United States but will be facing deportation charges for fraudulently presenting a falsified document to gain entry to the United States.
What will happen to Vivian’s legal status? Will the immigration judge take away her green card permanently and be sent back to the Philippines?
A non U.S. citizen seeking entry into the United States must always carry a valid visa and travel document. Those who are non green card holders and who only possess nonimmigrant visas may be subject to expedited removal commonly called “airport to airport.”
For green card holders such as Vivian, she is considered to be seeking admission to the US. Despite being a green card holder, she is still subject to inspection. Unlike non-immigrants, however, she may not be subject to expedited removal. Upon arrival in the US, she will be asked to leave only if she voluntarily signs an “abandonment” of permanent resident status at the port of entry.
There are those who sign abandonment forms and request temporary entry on parole in order that they may be allowed to enter the United States for a few months. Thereafter, their green cards are considered abandoned and these individual need to get new visas to enter the United States.
CONSEQUENCES OF FRAUD
Committing fraud and willful misrepresentation is a basis for removal as well as a basis for refusal to admit entry into the US. The initial findings of fraud by the US immigration inspector may be contested in an immigration court during a hearing. Unfortunately, there are those who are fearful and decide to give up their green card immediately including their right to a hearing. Those who give up their right to a hearing sometimes make this decision after considering several factors and priorities. For instance, there are green card holders who really cannot be permanent residents of the US because they are running businesses in the Philippines which need their presence. Thus, giving up their green cards would not be a hard decision to make.
There are also green card holders who are still desirous of maintaining their green card because most of their family members are in the United States and they have pending petitions for their children still in the Philippines. These are the categories of green card holders who might want to exercise their right to a hearing in order to preserve their immigration status.
BACKDATING DOES NOT WORK
The Department of Homeland Security maintains a wide range of database that easily detects actual dates of travel of those entering and departing the United States. Backdating will only cause more harm than good. At best, an individual who plans to stay in the homeland for a lengthy period of time must plan on getting a re-entry visa prior to departing the United States. If the extended stay in the Philippine was not really planned but was due to circumstances beyond the control of the green card holder, obtaining a returning resident visa at the U.S. Embassy is a better legal option than falsified cachets on the passport. Backdating just does not work.
(Tancinco may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 887 7177 or at 721 1963)