What Happens if You Lie on an Immigration Application?

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Lying on your immigration documents can have serious consequences. Individuals who plan to travel to the United States for a temporary visit, whether it is to work, go to school, visit family or friends, or for just a bit of tourism, are required to provide immigration officers with detailed information about themselves.

Individuals planning to move to the United States to join a family member, such as a husband or wife, parent, or an adult child, will also have to complete a detailed application about their history. Providing this information is required so that the United States government can do background checks and ensure that individuals entering the United States are legitimately able to come, and to keep the rest of the population safe from individuals with nefarious intentions.

While providing such detailed information to a government agency can be overwhelming, and perhaps a little scary, it is imperative that if you want to come to the United States or preserve the option to emigrate to the United States in the future, you must be truthful on your application.

How Does the U.S. Government View Lack of Truthfulness on an Immigration Application?

There are three primary things that the United States government considers when it finds omissions, lies, or otherwise misleading information on an immigration application: 1) whether the lie affects your ability to qualify for the visa you applied for, why you lied, and what you lied about.

It can be tempting to lie on an immigration application if you're nervous about something such as having heard that it's easier to get a visa if you don't have children. However, even the smallest omissions can result in serious consequences. Being honest and upfront is always the best approach, even if it means acknowledging past mistakes or shortcomings. An immigration attorney can help you file an application and suggest ways to communicate anything you're worried about.

Omissions Count as Dishonesty

There may be times when a person fails to share specific details of their lives. They may not share details that are important to the immigration officer to know, which will affect their eligibility. While these lies may not be necessarily an issue by themselves, lying to an immigration officer to gain an immigration benefit in any context can also result in severe consequences. If a person lies to gain entry into the United States, or lies to gain an immigration benefit, they may be denied entry or legal status because of why they lied. What a person lied about may not even have been an issue at all.

For example, in the future, you may want to petition for the children you failed to mention on your application to the United States before, and now that you have a green card or are a US citizen, you may want to petition for those children. Certainly, the United States government will want to know why you failed to mention them before.

False Claim to US Citizenship

What you lie about can also have grave consequences. If you have lied about your association with certain individuals, or activities you have engaged in that would otherwise make you “inadmissible” to the United States, then you have more than one problem to deal with. In some instances, a person will lie about being a US citizen so that they can enter the United States. They may have obtained fraudulent documents, and even a US passport. This lie will be fatal to virtually all immigration cases across the board. That is referred to as “False Claim to US Citizenship.”

Consult an Experienced Immigration Attorney

It is imperative to be truthful on your applications, but if you have questions, talking to an experienced immigration attorney can help you figure out what is important and what is not. If you have already been dishonest, talking to an immigration attorney may help you determine how to clean up that mistake. An immigration attorney can also help you determine whether there is a special waiver that is available to help you transition to a more permanent status in the United States, if that is what you would like to do.

And, above all, be truthful with your attorney so that they can properly advise you and help you figure out what to do next.

Legal Resources for Undocumented Immigrants

Navigating the legal landscape of immigration can be challenging, particularly for undocumented immigrants, who may face additional obstacles and risks related to their immigration status. However, there are several legal resources available to help support undocumented immigrants and provide them with the information and guidance they need to protect their rights and pursue legal options for regularizing their status.

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is a federal U.S. Department of Homeland Security agency. USCIS is responsible for administering the nation's immigration system, including processing immigration applications and petitions, conducting interviews and background checks, and making decisions on immigration benefits.

In addition, the agency also provides resources and information on immigration topics, such as eligibility requirements, application procedures, and fees. The USCIS website is a valuable resource for those seeking information on the immigration process and provides detailed information on various immigration topics.

National Immigration Law Center

The National Immigration Law Center (NILC) is a nonprofit organization that works to defend and advance the rights of low-income immigrants in the United States. One of the NILC's primary goals is to ensure that all immigrants, regardless of their legal status, have access to basic human needs such as healthcare, education, and work.

The NILC provides resources and support for undocumented immigrants to help them understand their rights and navigate the complex U.S. immigration system. They offer guidance on protecting oneself in case of an immigration raid or arrest and provide information on accessing essential services, including healthcare and education. They also offer resources and training to advocates and attorneys working with undocumented immigrants.

Immigration Advocates Network

The Immigration Advocates Network (IAN) is a national network of nonprofit organizations that provides legal support and advocacy services to immigrants. IAN was launched in 2007 as a collaborative effort between leading immigrant rights organizations to increase access to legal services for low-income and vulnerable immigrant populations.

IAN's website offers many online tools and resources for immigrants and their advocates, including information to ensure undocumented immigrants know their legal rights and understand their protections. This can be especially beneficial to protect against discrimination regarding housing and access to public services.


Vanessa K. Mathisen, J.D. Esq Profile Picture

Vanessa K. Mathisen, J.D. EsqAuthor

Vanessa Mathisen is an experienced immigration attorney who practices in Spokane, Washington. Visit: