Matter of Pinzon: Making False Statements Under 18 USC § 1001(a)(2) Is A Crime Involving Moral Turpitude


The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) recently held in Matter of Pinzon, 26 I&N Dec. 189 (BIA 2013), that convictions under 18 USC § 1001(a)(2) for “knowingly and willfully making any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation” are Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude (CIMT).  The holding overturns two other BIA cases, Matter of G-, 8 I&N Dec. 315, 316 (BIA 1959), and  Matter of Espinosa, 10 I&N Dec. 98, 99 (BIA 1962), which both held that convictions under this statute were not CIMTs. 

In Matter of G- and Matter of Espinosa the BIA held that a conviction under section 1001 was not a CIMT because the statute, at the time, did not include the element of “materiality.” A false or fraudulent representation had to be material in order to be a CIMT.  In 1996, however, the False Statements Accountability Act of 1996, Pub. L. No. 104-292, 110 Stat. 3459, amended section 1001 to include materiality.  Thus, the BIA held in Pinzon that the statute now required materiality, and thus a conviction under that section is always a CIMT.  

What crimes are and are not CIMTs is not always an easy question to answer, but the answer is important.  Commission of a CIMT can render a foreign national ineligible for many immigration benefits such as relief in removal proceedings or even U.S. citizenship.  Additionally, a crime may seem relatively minor on its face, but if found to be a CIMT, it can have major implications for immigrants.   For example, a false statement may not rise to the level of fraud, but if convicted under 18 USC § 1001(a)(2) for such a statement, one would be convicted of a CIMT as the respondent was in Pinzon.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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