I think that the U.S. immigration laws are very unfair, indeed! I am an American citizen married to a British subject. After meeting in the U.K., we travelled multiple times back and forth to visit each other. We came to the conclusion that visiting every two weeks was cost prohibitive and, quite frankly, we just missed each other too much in between. He came over to visit me in March of 2006, and during that visit we just decided to get married in Vegas and be together. We set about filing all of the forms needed for immigration...spousal sponsorship, I-485, employment visa, etc. We went to our first interview, where my husband disclosed that when he was 19 years old, he was arrested for counterfeiting (photocopying money on a copier) and when searched, he had speed in his pocket, so a drugs possession charge was added. He was given community service as a sentence, which he served.
He never was sentenced to go to jail. The immigration officer told him to gather the police reports (originals) and send them in and await further instructions. Almost 3 years passed. We contacted immigration several times to find out what the hold up was, and basically got nowhere. We simply carried on with our lives. Our son was born in the meantime, we bought a new car since our old car wouldn't do for the baby, etc. We really didn't think we had a problem since our marriage was real and we told immigration about my husband's past. My husband is 35 years old and hasn't been in trouble since the incident when he was 19. Recently we got a letter from immigration to return for another interview on Friday (the 17th of April). We attended it thinking..."finally, we get the green card and can come and go from the U.S. and move on with our lives officially!" We were dead wrong.
We were told that my husband is going to be deported because when he was on the plane to come over and visit in March of 2006, he ticked the box "no" to the question of a past criminal record. The officer said that he committed fraud and had no chance of staying in the U.S. My husband and I just looked at each other and said "which form is that?" We have always been up front about his past with immigration. The officer said to my husband "come, on! You know you were lying!" We asked to see the form and he reluctantly flashed it at us, but didn't allow us to read it. My husband told him that he didn't remember filling out those answers, but if the question was presented, he said "no" because the incident happened (at that point) 13 years ago and was no longer recordable. His answer was "I'm sorry, but it's obvious you committed fraud".
I think this is ridiculous and I feel this way on several levels. First of all, you have a tourist on a plane on their way to the U.S. and if they have ever done ANYTHING wrong, even jaywalking, they, in essence, must tick "yes" to that question. At that point, they will be turned back at the POE. So, the airline ticket, the hotel costs, all up in smoke. Realistically, 99.9% of travellers who have had some incident in their past (DUI or fight or any number of unfortunate things people get up to in life) will say "no" to that question and carry on with their vacation and none-the-wiser. I had to look up that question on the visa waiver (I-94) to see what it was that my husband ticked "no" to. The question is long-winded and goes into serving jail time of 5 years or longer, etc. It is easy to misunderstand the question unless you read it VERY carefully.
It does NOT explain that you must answer "yes" even if the crime has been expunged in your home country. And worst of all, you are presented with this form en route. Why isn't this waiver form displayed PRIOR to buying a ticket, so that you know if you need to get some additional paperwork, etc. During the purchase, the series of questions you will be asked should be displayed with the notification "if you answered 'yes' to any of these questions...STOP...you may not purchase a ticket at this time.
Please refer to the nearest American Consulate for further information. Because he ticked the wrong box on an airplane, our lives are completely upside down. We have to sell our house, I have to give up a very good job, my husband will now have to take our son to the UK while I try to see if we can immigrate to Canada, in the effort to save our worldly possessions. Otherwise, I will have to sell all of our things at a fraction of their worth, including our 1 year old CUV. I won't let my husband go back alone. We are a family and will stick together. We are married for richer or poorer. I have one small satisfaction. I made a lot of money in the U.S. and have always paid a lot in taxes. By throwing out our family, they won't get anymore money from me.