Immigration "Palusots"02 June 2012
The word that stuck to our minds in the Corona impeachment is ‘palusot’. Representative Rudy Farinas used this word numerous times in his closing argument. We are so familiar with the word ‘palusot’ because growing up in a Filipino household we have always encountered this word. When we are caught making a ‘palusot’ our reaction is either to be shamed by it or to just laugh it off.
After hearing this word many times during the Corona trial as well as in numerous news reports, I began to also realize that I often encounter this word when dealing with immigration clients.
Very recently, there was a ‘palusot’ of a widower of a U.S. citizen. An immigrant petition was filed by a U.S. citizen on behalf of her spouse. On the date of the interview, the husband said that the wife was still very ill and asked the immigration examiner for a postponement of the interview. The interview date was rescheduled. After making sworn representations that the wife was very ill, the husband now admits that the wife died prior to the date of the interview and that he lied to the immigration officer. When asked why he lied, he said he was confused and was afraid that he will be deported if the immigration officer discovers the death of the petitioning spouse. This was a lame excuse which will instead lead to him being barred from receiving any future immigrant visa.
Palusots of Those Concealing Prior Marriages
Jessie is currently being petitioned by his U.S. citizen spouse Anna. Jessie however concealed the fact that he was previously married to Catherine. This prior marriage was never annulled and Jessie also did not declare this prior marriage in all his visa applications. When asked why he did not declare his prior marriage, his excuse was that he really never lived with his prior wife. According to him, he only stayed with Catherine for a few months but never lived permanently with her. After many years, Catherine also re-married and has her own family now. Meantime, Jessie is about to be interviewed for his immigrant visa at the U.S. Embassy. If his prior marriage will be discovered (which is most likely), his palusot of having lived with her for a short period of time only will not release him from the adverse consequence of his misrepresentation. This will result in the denial of his visa and his ‘palusot’ will have worked against him.
The same case applies to an immigrant who conceals a marriage but nevertheless is able to get an immigrant visa. Thinking his ‘palusot’ was effective, George returned to marry his spouse again in the Philippines. When he petitioned his spouse and children, the U.S. consular officer discovered the initial fraud of concealing the prior marriage. As a consequence, George’s wife and children were denied U.S. visas. In addition, George is now facing removal/deportation proceedings before an immigration court.
Lastly, let’s revisit a case of a “secret” marriage. In an adjustment of status application before an immigration examiner at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, a couple submitted themselves for interview. The US citizen wife was the petitioner and the applicant for green card was the husband. The husband declared no prior marriages. During the interview, the immigration examiner gave a warning on the consequence of lying. When the husband was asked the question about any prior marriages, he admitted to marrying his high school sweetheart many years ago in the Philippines. He said he did not declare this marriage, because he thought that this was a “secret” marriage. And secret marriages, according to his erroneous understanding, are supposed to be confidential. His palusot resulted in more trouble. He was denied the visa by the immigration service; and, his U.S. citizen wife divorced him for being untruthful, among others. Until now this person is without legal immigration status.
In the immigration context, fraud and willful misrepresentations can result in severe penalties. It may cause permanent separation of families because of these penalties.
There are cases where “palusots” do work effectively. Still, it is important to realize that this does not imply that misrepresentations are right. Most of the time, deliberate lies and misrepresentations are discovered. In an embassy or consulate categorized as a “high fraud” post, like the U.S. Embassy in Manila, aggressive efforts are taken by authorities to investigate each case where a red flag for fraud exist. Sadly, there are also some immigration examiners at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service who suspect fraud from innocent Filipino applicants after having discovered numerous marriage fraud cases with other Filipinos. This is a sad reality and that there must be an awareness that being truthful is always a key element to a successful and positive outcome in visa applications.
If fraud and misrepresentation exists in an immigration case, the best route to take is to confront the issue and apply for a ‘waiver’. It may not be easy to get a waiver and it may not be available to every applicant. However, getting a waiver from the immigration examiner or consular officer may be the best and only route to get a visa. If the waiver is granted, then the prior fraud or misrepresentation is forgiven and the applicant should no longer rely on a “palusot” which may result in harsh consequences.
(Tancinco may be reached at email@example.com or at 721 1963 or 887 7177).