In yet another example of why you should never lie or make misrepresentations to the government in connection with immigration benefits, the Board of Immigration Appeals issued a decision regarding the consequences of false testimony. In Matter of Gomez-Beltran, 26 I & N Dec. 765 (BIA 2016), the Board ruled that a person cannot establish good moral character if during the relevant period, he or she gives false testimony under oath in immigration proceedings. In the case, Mr. Gomez-Beltran was in removal proceedings and submitted an application for cancellation of removal. As part of any application for cancellation for non-permanent residents, the respondent must prove the lack of any criminal record that would render him/her removable. Additionally, the respondent must also demonstrate good moral character. In spite of his lengthy criminal record, Mr. Gomez-Beltran did not disclose his full criminal history: according to the decision, he only indicated a conviction for driving while under the influence. Even under cross examination by the government attorney, Mr. Gomez-Beltran continued to maintain that his record was otherwise clear. To make matters worse, he repeatedly denied any further criminal conduct even after being confronted with evidence. Only after the government confronted him about each and every conviction did he eventually relent and acknowledge that he was also guilty of those offenses.
Not surprisingly, the Immigration Judge determined that Mr. Gomez-Beltran was ineligible for cancellation of removal due to his lack of veracity during the proceedings. The Court noted that even though he ultimately answered all the questions truthfully and acknowledged his complete record, this did not cure the fact that he made false statements under oath in a court proceeding when initially asked. Furthermore, the Court noted that in general, in making a determination whether someone’s false testimony militates against a finding of good moral character, the trier of fact must make a case-by-case assessment. Considering the circumstances of this case, the Court remarks that “this is not a close case.”
The caveat here is obvious, but its lesson worth repeating because it cannot be overemphasized: don’t lie before immigration, whether in a court setting, application, or interview. Lying or making misrepresentations can have a number of very serious, adverse consequences including criminal charges; the denial of an application; a finding that good moral character has not been established; or a charge of misrepresentation, which can bar someone from establishing admissibility indefinitely. The consequences of lying affects all aspects of the immigration process from visa applications, permanent residence, relief from removal, as well as naturalization.
The aforementioned is general information or opinion only. It is not intended to substitute for legal advice or establish an attorney-client relationship. To receive legal advice, you must consult with an attorney.