On the first page of the Form I-9, there is an attestation section where the employee must attest, under the penalty of perjury, to his citizenship or immigration status by checking one of four boxes provided on the Form.  In a recent decision, the Fourth Circuit held that an individual who falsely claimed to be a U.S. citizen on the Form I-9 for the purpose of seeking employment, was “inadmissible” under INA §212(a)(6)(C)(ii)(I). 

The False Claim Bar renders inadmissible any alien who falsely represents, or has falsely represented, himself…to be a citizen of the United States for any purpose or benefit under this Chapter or any other federal or state law.  So when Raymond Dakura, a native of Ghana who came to the U.S. on an F-1 student visa that had expired, completed a Form I-9 and checked the box that he was a citizen, he falsely represented himself to be a citizen of the U.S., and ran afoul of the False Claim Bar.  The truth was that Dakura was not a U.S. citizen, his F-1 status had already expired, and he remained in the country after he lost his student status with hopes to save enough money and re-enroll in University.  In need of work, Dakura applied for jobs, and when it came time to complete the Form I-9, he used documents which did not belong to him, and checked off the box attesting that he was a U.S. citizen.

Dakura soon married a woman with citizenship status, and she petitioned for recognition of their marriage, and sought a visa for Dakura.  Dakura then applied to the DHS for the adjustment of his status to lawful permanent resident.  When determining whether his status should be adjusted, the issue of his Form I-9 surfaced.  In order for an alien to adjust his status to that of a lawful permanent resident, he must be “admissible.” It’s actually the alien’s burden to prove that he “clearly and beyond doubt…is not inadmissible under 8 USC 1182.”

Making its way to the 4th Circuit, the issue was whether an alien who falsely claimed citizenship on a Form I-9 is thereby rendered inadmissible pursuant to the False Claim Bar.  The answer: Yes.  The theory supporting the 4th Circuit’s decision was that Dakura made the false representation for a “purpose or benefit” in his case, a job.  And doing so was clearly against the False Claim Bar. 

The 4th Circuit’s decision is now aligned with the 2nd, 3rd, 5th,  8th, and 10th Circuits which have also held that falsely claiming United States citizenship on a Form I-9, in seeking private employment, renders the alien making the false claim inadmissible under the False Claim Bar, or even deportable.

As we know, the Form I-9 is a delicate document which must be completed carefully and accurately.  Employers must be educated about the implications of the Form I-9 and its requirements.

*The decision is Dakura v. Holder, No. 13-2246, 2014 WL 6614158 (4th Cir. Nov. 24, 2014).