Thai Life

Consequences of committing immigration fraud

PHUKET: In February, Sittichai Boonkeian murdered his 13-year-old daughter and committed suicide by hanging himself from a ceiling fan. His wife, Chonrat Mungmart, believes that Mr Sittichai’s murder-suicide was a result of the anxiety and problems associated with their separation. Mr Sittichai and his daughter were living in Florida and his wife was in Thailand.

Ms Chonrat was separated from her husband and daughter as a result of committing immigration fraud. She attempted to bypass a multiple year wait time for entry into the United States by spouses of US permanent residents, by entering into a fraudulent marriage with a US citizen. The fraud was discovered, and she was deported.

While there are many problems with the US immigration system, Ms Chonrat’s attempt to shortcut through the immigration system had serious consequences and led to the long-term separation of her family. Ms Chonrat should have waited, because, unlike most people, Ms Chonrat had a legal pathway to immigrate to the United States.

There are three pathways for immigration to the United States: foreign nationals can immigrate through an employer’s sponsorship, they can invest a large sum of money and start a business in the US, or a US citizen or US permanent resident can file a petition for their immediate relatives. The current wait period for a spouse of a US Permanent Resident is less than three years.

Instead of a three year wait, Ms Chonrat’s immigration fraud makes her an immigration violator and inadmissible from entering the US without a waiver. Immigration fraud is one of the grounds for inadmissibility.

The other six inadmissibility categories are: health-related grounds, such as communicable diseases; certain criminal or drug offenses; economic grounds (foreign nationals deemed to be a public charge; intending immigrants, who attempt to enter with a non-immigrant visa; previously removed or deported individuals from the United States; and other miscellaneous legal grounds, such as polygamy.

Overcoming a finding of inadmissibility is difficult. Individuals who have been found inadmissible will have to submit an application for a waiver of their inadmissibility. These applications have a high evidentiary requirement.

Most immigrant waivers require a showing of extreme hardship to a US citizen family member. The extreme hardship encompasses economic, social and psychological hardship. In addition, the application must address why it would be difficult for the US citizen to move to the waiver applicant’s home country. The decision to grant waivers are discretionary, and very difficult to get approved.

There are many people in the world who are desperate to go to the United States.

They listen to rumors, people who have unsubstantiated advice, or scammers, who provide false options. Potential immigrants need to understand that there are limited options for legally entering the United States.

Some people do not currently qualify to immigrate. However, people’s lives and immigration laws are constantly changing. These changes may open future avenues for immigration to the United States.

However, when someone has been found to have committed immigration fraud, they are permanently barred from entering.

With the exceptions of waivers in limited circumstances, they have closed their door to obtaining a visa.

Robert R. Virasin serves as managing director of Virasin and Partners. He is a licensed U.S. attorney and a graduate of the University of California Los Angeles, University of Houston Law School, and Chulalongkorn University. He can be reached via email info@virasin.com.

— Robert Varasin

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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