LYING TO A FEDERAL OFFICER CAN GET YOU IN TROUBLE
In an interesting article by Solomon Wisenberg, a white collar crime lawyer in Washington, DC, the ramifications for lying to a federal officer are clearly and alarmingly laid out. Mr. Wisenberg writes, “Did you know that it is a crime to tell a lie to the federal government? Even if your lie is oral and not under oath? Even if you have received no warnings of any kind? Even if you are not trying to cheat the government out of money? Even if the government is not actually misled by your falsehood?” Under Title 18, United States Code, Section 1001 it is a crime to knowingly and willfully make any materially false, fictitious or fraudulent statement or representation in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative or judicial branch of the United States. Mr. Wisenberg, an expert in White Collar criminal defense issues posits that the lie does not even have to be made directly to an employee of the US government as long as it is made “within the jurisdiction” of the ever expanding federal bureaucracy.
This same warning applies in the immigration context whether lying on an application for an immigration benefit, lying to an immigration or US consular officer during an interview, or propagating the falsehoold that you are single, in order to immigrate under a family based preference petition, when you are actually married.
Mr. Wisenberg noted in his article that even someone as well known and wealthy as television and household guru Martha Stewart was prosecuted and imprisoned for intentionally misleading SEC and FBI officials when questioned about insider trading under Title 18, United States Code, Section 1001. So while it may seem appropriate or make perfect sense to you at the time to bend the truth a little or to tell a white lie to gain the immigration benefit, it can lead to huge ramifications which in the end could lead to imprisonment and deportation. So if faced with the situation where you have something in your immigration past to hide, or are not quite sure how to handle, contact us right away to avoid disaster. Because in the immigration context, it’s not IF “they” will find out you lied, but WHEN.