False Claims on Form I-9 Causing More Problems

November 10, 2017


 All too often, legitimate short-term concerns of putting food on the table and paying housing and other living expenses lead individuals to take desperate measures of falsely claiming that they are eligible to work in the United States.  Many do not even realize that the false claims made to an employer may in the long run cause problems when seeking to legalize their immigration status.  Individuals must understand that certain false claims made to an employer may in fact render them forever barred from becoming a green card holder.  Recently, there are reports that the USCIS is taking more aggressive measures in requesting and reviewing Form I-9s from individuals applying for a green card, which is leading to more denials and permanent bars from legalizing status.


All employers in the US are required to have all new employees complete the I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification form (Form I-9).  The top section of the Form I-9 must be completed by the employee no later than the first day of employment.  As well, the employer must examine documents evidencing their employment eligibility within three days of their commencement date. 


The top section of the current Form I-9 requires the employee to choose one of the following categories:  1) a Citizen of the United States; 2) a noncitizen national of the United States; 3) a lawful permanent resident; or 4) an alien authorized to work.  Clearly, an individual who is not authorized to work in the US cannot legitimately complete the Form I-9.  As a result, many resort to falsely claiming that they are either a US citizen, green card holder, or alien authorized to work.


Individuals who falsely claim to be a US citizen on the Form I-9 must understand that such a false claim may render them permanently ineligible to become a lawful permanent resident.  This permanent bar applies even if the individual is married to a US citizen and/or has children who are US citizens.  A false claim to US citizenship on a Form I-9 that is made on or after September 30, 1996, which is when the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IRAIRA) was enacted, renders an individual permanently inadmissible from the US.  There are absolutely no waivers available for the false claim to US citizenship.


On the other hand, a false claim to US citizenship on a Form I-9 that is made before September 30, 1996, does not subject the individual to the permanent bar.  As well, because the false claim on the Form I-9 is not made to a US government official, the individual has not committed fraud or misrepresentation under the immigration laws.


Similarly, an individual who falsely claims on a Form I-9 to being a lawful permanent resident or alien authorized to work has not committed fraud or misrepresentation under the immigration laws.  This is also because the false claim is to the employer only and not to a US government official.


In these situations, despite not having committed fraud or misrepresentation under the immigration laws, individuals are too often erroneously informed by the immigration service that they are required to apply for a fraud waiver in order to legalize their status.  Unknowing of their rights, individuals proceed with filing the hefty fee and the fraud waiver application.  Not only are the funds wasted, but being granted a fraud waiver is difficult as an applicant must have a qualifying relative and prove that the qualifying relative would suffer extreme hardship if the waiver is not granted.


Many individuals choose to falsely claim being a US citizen as it is perceived to be easier to obtain work in the US.  This short-sightedness, however, could have really damaging long-term ramifications because of the serious penalty for falsely claiming to be a US citizen.  Individuals need to understand their rights so that they can make informed choices, as well as challenge the immigration service should an erroneous assertion of fraud or misrepresentation be made.  Individuals should have legal counsel who is familiar with these intricacies in the law. 


For further information, please schedule an appointment with an attorney at Aquino & Loew, Immigration Law Specialists. Please also connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.  Aquino & Loew also handles family law and criminal matters.  Providing Personalized Service Nationwide & Abroad Since 1996.