I submitted a fake story for an asylum application; what if they catch me?

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Question:

I entered the U.S. without inspection and soon after learned that one of my only options to stay in the country legally was to apply for asylum. With the help of a notario, I submitted a fake story that stated that I feared persecution based on my political views. What will happen to me if the U.S. government discovers that I lied?

Answer:

Worst case scenario? If it is discovered that you lied, your asylum application will be denied and you will be placed into removal proceedings. At your removal hearing, the U.S. government will attempt to deport you because you entered the country illegally and willfully lied to obtain an immigration benefit. If the government is successful, you will be returned to your home country and permanently barred from reentering the U.S. in the future.

A permanent ban from any U.S. immigration benefit is the penalty for submitting a “frivolous” asylum application – that is, deliberately fabricating any material information on your application in order to stay in the United States. Although less likely, you (or the notario who assisted you) could also be fined or imprisoned for immigration fraud.

Even if your lie is not discovered right away, you could face dire consequences at a later date. For example, let’s say your application is approved and you are granted asylum, and you later obtain lawful permanent residence (a “green card”) or U.S. citizenship. You are still are not “home free.” If it is discovered that you falsified information on your asylum application, you could still lose your green card and be placed into removal proceedings. Or, if you make it all the way to U.S. citizenship, you could even (though it's rare) be “denaturalized” and lose your U.S. citizenship if your fake story is discovered.

Some notarios, or unlicensed immigration consultants, offer immigrants successful “recycled” stories of past persecution to use in their own asylum applications. However, asylum officers and immigration judges are getting better at spotting these copycat stories and discovering inconsistencies in applicants’ statements. Unscrupulous attorneys and immigration consultants who scam immigrants into submitting frivolous asylum applications and fake documents are increasingly caught and subject to civil and criminal penalties for their deception.

On a somewhat more positive note, even if your lie on your asylum application is discovered and you are faced with deportation, you may still be eligible for Withholding of Removal relief or protection under the Convention Against Torture. For more on this, see “Differences Between Asylum, Withholding of Removal, and Protection Under the Convention Against Torture.”

 

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