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ARGUED SEPTEMBER 28, 2007

Before ROVNER, WOOD, and EVANS, Circuit Judges.

This case highlights the obstacles that foreigners face in navigating arcane procedures intended to reunite them with their American-citizen spouses in the United States. Here the apparent hurdle was a form that only a consummate bureaucrat could earnestly defend. Christiana Atunnise, a Nigerian citizen, initially tried to sidestep the rules in 1998 when she used a fraudulent passport in a misguided attempt to join her husband, a Nigerian citizen who was living lawfully in Chicago. She was caught at the airport and sent back to Nigeria the very next day. As a consequence, Atunnise was statutorily barred from entering the United States for a period of five years, and even then she would forever need the Attorney General’s permission-a “waiver of inadmissibility” in immigration jargon-to gain admission. Atunnise waited out the five-year period, and soon after, in 2004, her husband became a United States citizen. He promptly petitioned immigration authorities for permission to bring Atunnise and their five-year-old daughter to live with him in the United States, and after that petition was approved, Atunnise went to the United States consulate in Lagos, Nigeria, to obtain a visa. The consular officer gave her a visa, but because of the manner in which Atunnise answered one of the questions on the visa application, she was not told that consular officers are not supposed to give someone in her position a visa without a waiver of inadmissibility. Atunnise maintains that she was confused by the application, which we agree would confuse anyone. When Atunnise took her visa and flew to the United States with her daughter in April 2006, an immigration officer at O’Hare International Airport realized that she also needed, but did not have, a waiver of inadmissibility. She has been in jail ever since, all because immigration officials have taken the position that even though she might have qualified for a waiver of inadmissibility, she has lost her opportunity to apply. That position, we conclude, is premised on a mistaken view of the law. Accordingly, we remand her case to the Board of Immigration Appeals for further proceedings.

 
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