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Last Updated on: 2nd October 2023, 05:50 pm
Responding to Target Letters in EB-5 and Other Immigration Fraud Investigations
Getting a target letter from the government can be scary. It likely means you’re under investigation for immigration fraud. Don’t panic! With the right legal help, you can get through this.
In this article, we’ll walk through what target letters are, what they mean for EB-5 and other immigration cases, and most importantly – how to respond to protect yourself.
What is a Target Letter?
A target letter is a letter sent by government investigators to someone they consider a “target” of an investigation. It informs you that you’re under investigation and invites you to provide information or testify.
These letters don’t necessarily mean you’ll be criminally charged. But they do mean the government has evidence suggesting you may have broken the law.
Target Letters in EB-5 and Immigration Cases
Getting a target letter related to an EB-5 or other immigration petition is serious. It likely means Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or another agency has opened an investigation into potential visa fraud.
Some common immigration-related accusations include:
- Lying on visa applications
- Fake marriages to get green cards
- EB-5 fraud like making up investment funds
You’ll need an experienced immigration attorney to help respond to these types of allegations.
Responding to an EB-5 or Immigration Target Letter
If you receive a target letter related to an immigration case, you shouldn’t ignore it. You also shouldn’t just show up to testify without legal counsel.
Here are important steps to responding:
- Don’t panic. Take a deep breath and focus on next steps.
- Don’t destroy any documents related to your case. That can lead to obstruction charges.
- Hire an immigration defense lawyer immediately. You’ll want an aggressive attorney on your side.
- Decline the invitation to testify or provide evidence. Politely assert your Fifth Amendment rights.
- Ask your lawyer to reach out to the investigator for more information. They may share details to help build your defense.
- Work with your lawyer to correct any application errors or clear up misunderstandings. Be 100% truthful with them.
- Have your attorney present evidence of your innocence or any mitigating factors.
- Negotiate a favorable resolution with your lawyer’s help. In many cases this is possible.
- If you do end up charged, your lawyer will defend you in court.
Avoiding Immigration Fraud Accusations
The best way to avoid getting a target letter is to avoid immigration fraud in the first place. Here are some tips:
- Be truthful on ALL visa applications and petitions. Lying has serious consequences.
- Work with an experienced immigration lawyer to ensure applications are accurate and complete.
- Keep detailed records proving eligibility like financial documents or photos.
- File any required follow-up paperwork on time to show good faith.
- Consult a lawyer if any part of your immigration process feels questionable.
Following the rules precisely may take longer but it keeps you from facing fraud allegations down the road.
Fighting Immigration Fraud Charges
If you do end up facing charges, an immigration defense lawyer can help protect your rights and future in the U.S. Options may include:
- Negotiating a favorable plea deal: Your lawyer may be able to get charges dismissed or reduced, avoid jail time, and preserve your immigration status.
- Challenging evidence: If evidence against you was obtained illegally, it may be excluded from your case.
- Presenting mitigating evidence: Your lawyer can gather materials and testimony showing your positive character and contributions.
- Appealing a conviction: With new evidence or procedural issues, you may be able to get a conviction overturned.
An experienced attorney knows the complex immigration laws and defenses that apply to your case. Early involvement from a lawyer is key.
Avoiding Deportation After Fraud Charges
Immigration fraud convictions can lead to removal from the U.S. But an attorney may help you avoid this using:
- Cancellation of removal: If you’ve lived in the U.S. for 10+ years, have good moral character, and removal would cause hardship for family, deportation may be canceled.
- Post-conviction relief: Options like appeals and habeas corpus petitions could overturn a conviction leading to deportation.
- Asylum: If you fear persecution in your home country, you may be able to seek asylum to remain in the U.S.
Don’t give up hope. Where there are immigration consequences, there are often immigration defenses if you have the right lawyer.
Take Target Letters Seriously
Getting a target letter in an immigration fraud investigation is scary. But with an experienced attorney guiding each step, you can limit the damage and even avoid charges altogether in some cases.
Don’t wait – get legal help right away if you receive one of these letters. The sooner you respond strategically, the better your chances of a favorable outcome.