US Immigration Process: Honesty is the Best Policy

Posted on June 02, 2016 by Kathryn Karam

 

US Immigration Process: Honesty is the Best Policy

It’s not unusual for someone to ask me if something they do will affect their US immigration process or status in the U.S. –  my job is to advise my clients and assist them with these decisions. My clients run ideas by me all the time, so it’s not unusual for a client to approach me and ask how anyone (meaning anyone in the U.S. government) would find out if they did something that might hurt their chances to stay in the U.S. Often I am asked travel-related questions such as this: “If the U.S. Customs and Border Protection people don’t stamp my passport when I leave the country, how would anyone know when I left the U.S.?” Usually people ask me this because they’re thinking they might be able to list a different date on an application. In citizenship applications, most people must show that they’ve spent a certain amount of time in the U.S. If someone hasn’t spent enough time here, listing a different date that they left the U.S. might help them appear to qualify even if they don’t.

Fifth Circuit Holds that Voluntary Departure Means Voluntarily Deportation for Sentence Enhancement

Posted on July 08, 2014 by Kathryn N. Karam

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals recently held that a person who was granted voluntary departure by an immigration judge and left in compliance with that order was considered to have “voluntarily deported” for purposes of a sentencing enhancement following a subsequent immigration crime conviction. In U.S. v. Murillo Acosta, individual in question pled guilty to using a fraudulent visa to enter the U.S. in violation of federal laws. The sentencing judge increased his offense level under the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines by two levels. The sentencing enhancement provision used applies to an individual who is in the U.S. without authorization and “has been deported (voluntarily or involuntarily) on one or more occasions prior to the instant offense.” The issue before the Fifth Circuit was whether Murillo-Acosta’s voluntary departure constitutes a “voluntary or involuntary” deportation. In a three-page opinion, the court held that it does not matter whether a formal order of removal was issued: a voluntary departure is treated as a deportation for purposes of the sentencing guidelines.

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