Month: December 2015

Turkish national continues struggle to remain in the U.S.

Ibrahim Parlak, a restaurant owner in Michigan, is facing to deportation to Turkey after residing in the United States for the past 24 years. This deportation could take place soon after Christmas Eve. According to Parlak, his deportation deferral expires on December 24.

Parlak was accused of lying on his green card application by the Department of Homeland Security, in 2004. He has been trying to rid his record of the blemish ever since. Parlak is the proud owner of the successful restaurant, Cafe Gulistan in Herbert, Michigan. He is a Kurd from a small farming village in southern Turkey, Gaziantep.

Ibrahim

Parlak said about his return to Turkey, the country from which he fled, “It’s not going to be a welcoming party. There is a big possibility that I’m going to be arrested.”

Parlak was in prison, in Turkey, for 16 months and he claims that he was tortured there for a believed connection to a confrontation. This confrontation that he was alleged to have been a part of was between the Kurdistan Worker’s Party and the Turkish government over a border dispute. Turkish soldiers were killed in this dispute. According to Parlak, he was present during the crossfire but was in no way connection to the organization and actually went running when the shooting began.

A friend of Parlak, Martin Dzuris, commented “If he did any of the things our government was accusing him of, I would not be his friend.”

News about Parlak’s deportation has spread to Turkey. Parlak has even claimed that his face has appeared on the covers of newspapers and television stations with the line: “No Matter Where You Go, We Will Get You.” This has caused locals to start to advocate for Parlak to remain in the United States. A Change.com petition about Parlak’s deportation was created on Tuesday morning and had received about 5,800 signatures by Tuesday night.

Parlak said, “I don’t have a single tree in Turkey. My family, my friends, my garden, my vegetables are all here in America. My whole adult life has been here.”

Sen. Carl Levin, D-MI, and Rep. Fred Upton, R-MI, both sponsored bills to give Parlak permanent U.S. residency. The introduction of the bills was able to the block action by Homeland Security. The problem is that Levin retired in 2014 and that Upton’s bill has yet to leave committee. Michigan’s current senators, Democrats Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow, have not sponsored legislation for Parlak.

Lynn Turner, a spokeswoman for Upton’s office said, “Our office is going to continue to support Parlak as Fred has done for years.”
Attorney Robert Carpenter, who represents Parlak, has remained hopeful, yet uncertain about the situation. He went on to say, “It leaves him unprotected for sure. We can’t appeal.”

ICE prosecutor faces criminal charges for allegedly forging deportation documents

Handcuffs

A former prosecutor for Immigration and Customs Enforcement is accused of forging court documents in a case that involved the deportation of a Mexican construction worker. The U.S. Attorney’s Office is investigating whether criminal charges can be brought upon the former prosecutor. A 2014 civil-rights lawsuit by Ignacio Lanuza has shed light on the investigation of former ICE prosecutor, Jonat Love. Love is accused of misconduct in Lanuza’s case in Immigration Court. ICE deals with immigration and refugee issues and is monitored by the Department of Justice.

Attorneys from the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, who represent Lanuza, said “This case presents the issue of whether a federal official may … be held accountable for indisputably corrupt actions taken in order to strip a noncitizen of his right to a full and fair hearing in immigration proceedings.”

The suit argues that, “[Lanuza] suffered through almost five years of unwarranted, expensive, and traumatic immigration proceedings as a result of a crude forgery on the part of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.” Lanuza claims that he was deprived of due process by Love. Lanuza is requesting $500,000 in damages for Love’s alleged misconduct.

Before the lawsuit against Love was opened, Lanuza was supposed to be deported to Mexico. As a result of the allegations and the pending lawsuit, Lanuza was given legal permanent resident status in the U.S. last year. Marsha Pechman, a U.S. District Judge, has stayed all proceedings in Lanuza’s civil lawsuit until a verdict is made on Love’s case involving federal prosecutors.

Lanuza was first brought to the attention of ICE following an arrest made while he was at a party for holding a handgun. The handgun was found to be stolen and he was eventually arrested for the possession of a stolen firearm and he was booked in the King County Jail. At the jail, he allegedly admitted to being in the country illegally. He pleaded guilty to a charge of illegally carrying a firearm with the intent to intimidate.

Lanuza claimed that he could not remember signing an I-826 form that Love had presented in trial. It was later found that Love had forged Lanuza’s signature on the form.

They’ve cited, “the seriousness and particularity of the allegations provided evidence indicating that the [I-826] submitted by the [Department of Homeland Security] may not be a complete and accurate document anachronisms and other hallmarks which may suggest document tampering.”

Pechman ruled that Love cannot be held civilly responsible for his actions. As a result Lanuza has filed an appeal with the 9th circuit.

Can a conditional resident keep their green card after divorce?

Can I keep my green card even if my US citizen spouse decides to divorce me? Hi. I’m Jim Hacking, Immigration Attorney practicing law out of our office here in St. Louis, Missouri. When you marry a US citizen and you’ve been married less than 2 years, you’re only going to get what’s called a conditional green card. You’re given lawful permanent resident status, and even though it’s called permanent, it’s not entirely permanent because when you’re married for less than 2 years, the green card that you get is only good for 2 years from the date of issuance.

Typically, what happens in a regular green card case is the US citizen sponsors someone, and they get that green card. If after the 2 years, they’re still married, they submit another form called an I-751 and a bunch of additional evidence that shows that the couple is still married, but the question then arises what happens when the marriage has gone south and either the US citizen or the alien have decided to get divorced? What happens then? Can the person still get their green card? That is the question that we get from time to time here at the Hacking Law Practice, and we’ve made this video to try to explain to you exactly what happens.

The first thing you should know is it is possible to maintain your lawful permanent resident status if you had a conditional green card even if you’ve gotten divorced, so it is possible. It’s not easy though, that’s the other thing. While it’s possible, it’s not easy, and the reason it’s not easy is because the number one factor into determining whether or not you can get that green card is whether or not your US citizen spouse is willing to help or tries to hurt your chances of staying in the United States. How does this work?

Everyone who gets a conditional green card has to file that I-751 at least within the last 90 days of the 2 years that they had their green card. Sometimes we’re contacted after a year of marriage. The couple has had their green card for about a year or a little bit longer, and the non-citizen has to get ready to file on their own. The US citizen is not going to participate in the process. They’re not going to help, and they’re no longer married. The law does allow for a divorced conditional permanent resident to get their green card, and like I said earlier, the one thing that’s most important is whether the US citizen is willing to help.

If they’re willing to sign an affidavit that says that the couple entered into the marriage in good faith, that it was a legitimate marriage, that everyone had the best of intentions and it just didn’t work out, that’s going to go a long way to getting the conditional green card lifted and to get permanent lawful resident status for 10 years and beyond. Conversely, if the US citizen wants to harm the non-citizen’s chances of getting that permanent green card, and they actively go to immigration and try to thwart that effort by making bad statements or saying that the person only married me for the green card, that’s really going to hurt and probably be fatal to the non-citizen’s chances of getting that permanent green card.

When you submit the I-751 on your own without a spouse, then you need to submit all the evidence that you can that the marriage was legitimate, whatever evidence you have that the couple comingled funds, traveled together, had debt together, credit cards together, lived together, all that evidence. The more of it you can submit, the better. In these situations, we want to go for both quantity and quality, so you want to have a lot of evidence, but you also want to have good competent evidence. You want to have testimony from people that knew the couple, you want to have evidence of all the financial stuff together for the couple, and you really want to make sure that you prove it up just like you would a regular marriage, only here it’s been divorced.

We can help you with this. It’s not easy. I would not try this without an attorney who knows what they’re doing. We’re handling 3 of these right now, and the more we do it, the better we get at it because the point is you really need to prove your case. You need an overwhelming evidence to show that the marriage was legitimate. If you have any questions, give us a call, 314-961-8200 or you can email us at Jim@HackingLawPractice.com

Do I have to give up my passport for my home country when I become a US citizen?

Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, Immigration Attorney, practicing law here in St. Louis, Missouri. We have a lot of people come to our office and ask us what happens when I become a US citizen. Do I have to give up my passport to my home country in France, or Egypt, or Japan? The law says that when you become a US citizen that you renounce any allegiance to your home country. You’re going to stand up to a federal judge or an immigration officer, raise your right hand and promise that if the United States needs you in the future that you will be there for the United States. That you will fight in the military if you can and they need you. You an perform important work of national importance on behalf of the United States and then if there was some kind of struggle between your home country and the United States that you would be there for the United States and that your allegiance would be totally and completely to the United States.

That’s a basic part of the naturalization process. Renouncing your allegiance to your home country and becoming a US citizen and promising that if in the future the United States needs you to help them, that you’ll help the United States. Does that mean that you have to give back your passport? That you can’t renew your home passport anymore? Or that you can’t use it to enter your home country? The answer to that question is no. Federal immigration law does not require in the United States that you give up your passport or that you no longer carry that passport from your home country.

Now one thing to keep in mind is that there are certain countries that require you to give up your passport once you become a US citizen. That’s more an operation of your home country’s law as opposed to federal law. This really surprised me and I sort of got tuned into this little quirk in immigration law when I was at a naturalization ceremony recently here in St. Louis. The federal judge who was going to swear everybody in was running a little bit late and so one of the immigration officers from St. Louis was fielding questions from people who were about to become US citizens. Someone asked this very question. She said that simply the United States doesn’t have the resources to go and figure out if people are in fact using both passports, their US passport and their home country passport.

This struck me as funny because so many people come to our office and say, “Jim, I want to become a US citizen.” Or they just say, “Jim, I want to get that US passport.” A lot of people really like having that US passport, but they also really like having their home country passport. They don’t want to give that up. It makes it easier to enter into the home country. There are several reasons why people like to keep their passport and the answer is, you can do it. Be happy about that if that’s something that is important to you.

If you have any questions about becoming a US citizen or about giving up your allegiance to your home country or about keeping your passport from your home country, give us a call, 314-961-8200 or you can email us at jim@hackinglawpractice.com. Thanks a lot. If you like this video, please click like and please make sure to subscribe if you click on the button below you can subscribe to our YouTube channel whenever we do an update or anything new about immigration, you’ll be the first to know about it.

Thanks a lot and have a great day.

Court strikes down DOL penalty assessed against Missouri company

Greater Missouri Medical Pro-Care Providers, Inc. (GMM) is a company that provides physical and occupational therapists to work in hospitals, nursing homes, and a host of other comparable facilities. GMM hired physical and occupational therapists from the Philippines through the H-1B program for temporary workers. GMM agreed to pay a just amount and provide suitable working conditions for their employees. A GMM H-1B therapist from the Philippines, Alena Gay Arat, alleged that GMM had violated several H-1B requirements. One of those incidents that Arat had alleged was that GMM had attempted to make her pay a fee for ending her job early.
The Department of Labor (DOL) took Arat’s complaint as an “aggrieved party” complaint. Erin Simon, an investigator with the DOL, found that there was reasonable cause to review the complaints against GMM. The DOL claimed that GMM had violated the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) on several fronts. The first violation that the DOL alleged against GMM was that GMM failed to pay required wages to employees that GMM had placed in nonproductive “benching” status. They further claimed that GMM made improper deductions from employee wages for lawyer and H-1B petition fees. Finally, the DOL said that the company “required or attempted to require” improper penalty payments for early termination from certain employees.
GMM challenged the DOL determination to an administrative law judge, arguing that, “[t]he applicable statute and regulation limit an aggrieved-party complaint to the specific issues of the Complaint and to the aggrieved party’s LCA.” The ALJ rejected this theory after finding that there was nothing in the INA to support GMM’s claim. The ALJ ordered GMM to pay $338,042.19 of back wages to forty employees for benching violations; $8,160.00 to seventeen employees for illegal fee deductions; and $8,284.23 to four employees for illegally withholding paychecks. A federal district court later affirmed these penalties.

 

 

DOL

 

On appeal, the court found that the Secretary was not authorized to investigate in the manner that they did. The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Secretary of Labor cannot investigate beyond the original complaint without reasonable evidence, which was not presented. The court determines that because all of the awards given by the ARB were based on the Secretary’s unauthorized investigations, the awards cannot stand. The appeals court reversed the judgement and “remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.”

Do immigration officials look at applicant’s social media profiles?

Does the federal government look at people’s social media when deciding whether or not to give them a green card or a visa? Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law here throughout the United States, out of our office in St. Louis, Missouri.

The issue of social media has been a hot button topic the last few weeks. The reason for this, is the husband and wife that shot up the government facility in San Bernardino, California, a terrible tragedy. Members of Congress hauled people from the immigration service in front of them, at a Judiciary Hearing last week, to ask them questions about the fiance visa, the spouse visa process. They wanted to know specifically, “Does the federal government look at an applicant’s social media when deciding whether or not to give them a visa?”

We thought we’d shoot this video in order to talk about it. We’ve had clients, from time to time, come to see us and ask us about representing them. We’ve spent some time on social media, not as their friend or anything, we’ve just gone and checked out their story. Sometimes, we’ve been alarmed at what they have on their Facebook.

Case in point: We once had a pair of brothers, let’s call them John and Sam. John and Sam came to see us and they brought Ann with them. The story was that Sam was a U.S. citizen, and John was married to Ann. They were trying to hire us, to help get a green card for John. When we did our own quick check of social media, specifically Facebook, we figured out that in fact, Sam the U.S. citizen, was already married to Ann and that this was a fake marriage. They had decided to try to get a green card for the non-citizen brother, John, by running a fake immigration marriage through USCIS. This was not a lot of hard work on our part. We were glad we were able to turn down the case, because these people were wanting to engage in immigration fraud. We don’t want anything to do with that. That’s what we do here at our office.

On a broader scale, you need to know that there’s no doubt, no matter what the government said at the Congressional Hearing, no matter their claims that they never look at social media, that simply doesn’t happen. We’ve had situations arise at the immigration service, where photos from Facebook, publicly available, posting on Facebook, have made their way into the immigration file. We’ve had examining officers ask our clients about things that they’ve posted on Facebook. Usually it’s related to good moral character, not necessarily terrorist activity. Certainly not, we’ve never had anything like that.

On the social media front, usually they’re looking at whether or not the marriage is legitimate, whether or not the person applying for a green card is a good person and deserving of a green card, deserving of lawful permanent resident status. The idea that USCIS is not looking at social media, that might be some broadly stated, unknown policy, because immigration officers around the country, regularly look at social media. They look throughout the internet, for information about the people that are applying for benefits. Don’t just think that because USCIS officials said in Washington, that they don’t check social media, that they don’t in fact.

Another way that this can become an issue is when people come through customs. A lot of times, customs officials will ask to look at your laptops, or ask to look at your cell phone. There have been issues related to posting on social media, emails as well, in which people have said way, way, way too much about what their plans are in the United States, on social media. We’ve had people get pulled into secondary scrutiny at customs. I’m not saying that they’re pulled out of the line to get in the United States because of social media. What I’m saying is, sometimes things begin to unravel and custom officials have been known to ask to look at people’s cellphones. When they unlock the cellphone and get into Facebook, they see plans that are inconsistent with the visa that the person has applied for.

For example, we were contacted recently about someone who was coming on a B1B2 visa. Now, under that visa, they’re not supposed to be working, but when they came through customs, custom officials saw that they had posted on social media that they were coming to work as a nanny for their cousin, and they didn’t really have the plan to go back after six months.

Don’t think that the USCIS or government officials are not looking at social media. It happens every day. It happens and it causes big problems for people, so don’t believe the hype. They’re definitely looking at social media. If you’re applying for an immigration benefit, you want to make sure that your social media profile is locked up. You want to make sure that your not saying anything on there that’s inconsistent with the benefit that you’re asking for. Don’t be trying to get a spouse visa, if you are showing yourself partying out with other people, showing your own romantic situation with someone other than your spouse. These are things that will trip you up.

If you have questions about social media, if you have questions about what you should do with your Facebook account, give us a call here at 314-961-8200, or you can email us, Jim@hackinglawpractice.com. Thanks a lot.

Visa Waiver Program may not be available to certain travelers

The VWP (Visa Waiver Program), which is managed by the Department of Homeland Security with the help of the State Department, is a program that allows citizens from the 38 member nations to travel to the United States for tourism or business for up to 90 days without a visa.  As a part of the arrangement, those countries must allow U.S. citizens to travel to their countries for the same amount of time without the attainment of a visa for business of tourism.  

Adopted in 1986, the VWP has created an international security community among its member nations.  According to the Department of Homeland Security’s website, “ The VWP utilizes a risk-based, multi-layered approach to detect and prevent terrorists, serious criminals, and other mala fide actors from traveling to the United States. This approach incorporates regular, national-level risk assessments concerning the impact of each program country’s participation in the VWP on U.S. national security and law enforcement interests.”  The program reviews VWP travelers before they leave for the United States, at American entry points, and during all air travel within the United States.  

With the recent attack in Paris and the incident in San Bernardino, Congress has begun scrutinizing the VWP.  This week, the House of Representatives voted 407 to 19 to overhaul the visa waiver program.  The new rules would bar those from Iraq, Syria, Iran and the Sudan, or those who have visited those countries in the last five years, from traveling to the U.S. without a visa.

vwp

The American Civil Liberties Union, the National Iranian American Council, and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee have recently made their opposition known to a proposed change to the VWP, that is backed by the Obama Administration. The groups claim that the House bill, which is reaching across party lines, discriminates against ethnic groups that may even have citizenship in the West.  The European Union has asked lawmakers to look back over the works and consider not going through with it, as it could impact U.S. citizens’ travel in Europe.  

The ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) released a letter saying, “We urge Congress to exercise caution and to avoid passing legislation that would broadly scapegoat groups based on nationality, and would fan the flames of discriminatory exclusion, both here and abroad.”

Following the November 13 attacks in Paris, the U.S. has been in a frenzy to set more restrictive immigration laws on immigrants and refugees of Syria and Iraq.  The attack was committed by French and Belgian nationals who are believed to have connections to ISIS.  

The ACLU sees a great problem in the broadness of the bill.  The ACLU claims that according to the bill,  a person who was born and raised in France but whose father is a Syrian citizen would be forced to obtain a visa prior to being able to come to the United States.  This is even applicable if that person has a French passport and never been in Syria.  

The NIAC, which lobbies for Iranian Americans said,  “Given that the Visa Waiver Program is reciprocal, participating countries can respond by blocking Iranian-American travelers from traveling without a visa.  Since Iran considers any children whose fathers are Iranian nationals to also be Iranian nationals, a wide swath of the Iranian diaspora may be targeted by this legislation. This is a dangerous, slippery slope.”

Fiance and spouse visas under attack

In America, when something bad happens involving an immigrant, those opposed to immigration run to the cameras and start yelling about how the United States needs to “crackdown” on immigration.

We saw this after the Paris attacks in November of 2015.  Republican hardliners and others opposed to immigration seized upon the senseless terrorist attack to argue that the U.S. should completely revamp its system of allowing refugees into the U.S.  They made these arguments despite the fact that the U.S. has a rigorous screening process for refugees which takes at least a year and a half for the refugee to get permission to come to the States.  They also neglected to mention that the U.S. has allowed hundreds of thousands of refugees to come to the U.S. without a single reported incident of a refugee committing a terrorist act.  Not one.

Now, after the bizarre mass shooting incident in San Bernardino allegedly committed by a U.S. citizen of Pakistani descent and his immigrant wife, these same hard liners are calling for greater restrictions on allowing U.S. citizens to sponsor their spouse or fiance for an immigrant visa.

According to news reports, Syed Farook, sponsored his wife Tashfeen Malik on a K-1 fiance visa in July of 2014.  The couple then married in Riverside County on August 16, 2014 and Farook then sponsored Malik for lawful permanent status based on that marriage.

Senators Jeff Sessions and Ted Cruz recently demanded that President Obama release the immigration records of this couple who reportedly killed 14 people in California.  The Senators want to know the degree of scrutiny faced by the immigrant wife when she came to the U.S.  The two Senators have even floated the idea of a government shutdown to force changes in U.S. immigration policy.

Sessions and Cruz demand not only the immigration file for Tashfeen Malik, but also the immigration file of Farook’s parents.  The Senators claim that the files should be released because “[t]he recruitment of terrorists in the U.S. is not limited to adult migrants, but to their young children and to their U.S. born children – which is why family immigration history is necessary to understand the nature of the threat.”

visa denied

According to the Senators, the green card process is on an “autopilot path to approve” these kinds of applications.

This is some harsh rhetoric from some of the most anti-immigrant members of Congress. That being said, it seems very clear that spouse visas and fiance visas are going to be harder to obtain – especially if the foreign spouse comes from a predominantly Muslim country.

Politicians like Sessions and Cruz are going to use this horrible attack as political fodder for their own purposes, but the more troubling outcome is that a fiance and spouse visa process that is already cumbersome, burdensome and slow is going to get even slower.

A couple of other things to consider.

First, this shooting happened less than one week ago.  The investigation into exactly what happened has just gotten underway.  Perhaps it is a bit too early to be calling for drastic changes to our spouse and fiance visa policy before learning all of the facts.

Second, in America, politicians and bureaucrats often make reactionary decisions that are based on a single piece of information without giving much thought to the overall picture.

The entire Transportation and Safety Administration is based on this faulty logic.  That agency was created in light of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and has done little to make America’s airline system safer.  Studies show that investigators have been able to get all kinds of contraband past airport security.  Would additional scrutiny of a visa application have prevented this horrible act?  Probably not, especially if the couple became “self-radicalized” online after the spouse’s arrival in the U.S.

Third, while these hardliners are all too happy to devote government resources to scrutinizing our immigration system, they viciously oppose any attempt to examine the role our insane gun culture plays in these mass shooting incidents.  The perpetrators of this heinous act had serious fire power and at least some of the guns were obtained legally.  So it is very hypocritical for these friends of the National Rifle Association to be screaming their heads off about immigrants, while refusing to even discuss the role our gun culture plays in all of this.

The fact is that hundreds of thousands of spouses and fiances of U.S. citizens have come to the U.S. without the foreign-born spouse committing a such a horrendous act.  The vast, vast majority of spouses and fiances are contributing to U.S. society each and every day.  Does making the fiance or spouse visa process really make us any safer?  Or is this just political pandering to hardliners in the U.S.?

Fiance and spouse visas under attack

In America, when something bad happens involving an immigrant, those opposed to immigration run to the cameras and start yelling about how the United States needs to “crackdown” on immigration.

We saw this after the Paris attacks in November of 2015.  Republican hardliners and others opposed to immigration seized upon the senseless terrorist attack to argue that the U.S. should completely revamp its system of allowing refugees into the U.S.  They made these arguments despite the fact that the U.S. has a rigorous screening process for refugees which takes at least a year and a half for the refugee to get permission to come to the States.  They also neglected to mention that the U.S. has allowed hundreds of thousands of refugees to come to the U.S. without a single reported incident of a refugee committing a terrorist act.  Not one.

Now, after the bizarre mass shooting incident in San Bernardino allegedly committed by a U.S. citizen of Pakistani descent and his immigrant wife, these same hard liners are calling for greater restrictions on allowing U.S. citizens to sponsor their spouse or fiance for an immigrant visa.

According to news reports, Syed Farook, sponsored his wife Tashfeen Malik on a K-1 fiance visa in July of 2014.  The couple then married in Riverside County on August 16, 2014 and Farook then sponsored Malik for lawful permanent status based on that marriage.

Senators Jeff Sessions and Ted Cruz recently demanded that President Obama release the immigration records of this couple who reportedly killed 14 people in California.  The Senators want to know the degree of scrutiny faced by the immigrant wife when she came to the U.S.  The two Senators have even floated the idea of a government shutdown to force changes in U.S. immigration policy.

Sessions and Cruz demand not only the immigration file for Tashfeen Malik, but also the immigration file of Farook’s parents.  The Senators claim that the files should be released because “[t]he recruitment of terrorists in the U.S. is not limited to adult migrants, but to their young children and to their U.S. born children – which is why family immigration history is necessary to understand the nature of the threat.”

visa denied

According to the Senators, the green card process is on an “autopilot path to approve” these kinds of applications.

This is some harsh rhetoric from some of the most anti-immigrant members of Congress. That being said, it seems very clear that spouse visas and fiance visas are going to be harder to obtain – especially if the foreign spouse comes from a predominantly Muslim country.  Politicians like Sessions and Cruz are going to use this horrible attack as political fodder for their own purposes, but the more troubling outcome is that a fiance and spouse visa process that is already cumbersome, burdensome and slow is going to get even slower.

A couple of other things to consider.

First, this shooting happened less than one week ago.  The investigation into exactly what happened has just gotten underway.  Perhaps it is a bit too early to be calling for drastic changes to our spouse and fiance visa policy before learning all of the facts.

Second, in America, politicians and bureaucrats often make reactionary decisions that are based on a single piece of information without giving much thought to the overall picture.  The Transportation and Safety Administration is based on this faulty logic.  That agency was created in light of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and has done little to make America’s airline system safer.  Studies show that investigators have been able to get all kinds of contraband past airport security.  Would additional scrutiny of a visa application have prevented this horrible act?  Probably not, especially if the couple became “self-radicalized” online after the spouse’s arrival in the U.S.

Third, while these hardliners are all too happy to devote government resources to scrutinizing our immigration system, they viciously oppose any attempt to examine the role our insane gun culture plays in these mass shooting incidents.  The perpetrators of this heinous act had serious fire power and at least some of the guns were obtained legally.  So it is very hypocritical for these friends of the National Rifle Association to be screaming their heads off about immigrants, while refusing to even discuss the role our gun culture plays in all of this.

The fact is that hundreds of thousands of spouses and fiances of U.S. citizens have come to the U.S. without the foreign-born spouse committing a such a horrendous act.  The vast, vast majority of spouses and fiances are contributing to U.S. society each and every day.  Does making the fiance or spouse visa process really make us any safer?  Or is this just political pandering to hardliners in the U.S.?

 

 

What if my B1/B2 visa gets denied?

What if my B2 visit visa gets denied? Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law here in St. Louis, Missouri, and throughout the United States. We have a lot of web visitors ask us about, “What can I do if my mom or dad’s or some other relative or friend’s B2 visit visa is denied?”

The B1/B2 visit visa is a very frustrating process. We actually, in our office, don’t handle very many visit visas. The reason for that is that there is just no way to predict with certainty which visas get approved and which visas get denied. The reason for this is because the State Department has a tremendous amount of discretion in deciding who gets to come and who does not get to come. In fact, that discretion is pretty much not even subject to review.

If you have someone who is overseas that applies for a visit visa and they get denied, you’re not going to have a chance to appeal it to some higher authority. You’re not going to have the chance to talk to a supervisor. It’s a very quick process, and it’s pretty much up to the decision of the consular officer. We have talked in other videos about ways that you can improve your chances of getting a visit visa, but what happens when the visit visa gets denied?

The first thing you need to think about is, why was it denied? Many times visit visas are denied because the foreign national does not have sufficient ties to the home country to show that they intend to return. The State Department is concerned about people coming to the United States and never leaving. When you get a B2 visit visa, or a B1 for that matter, you get six months on most of those visas to stay in the United States. The State Department wants to be very sure that at the end of those six months, you have a reason to come back to your home country. So how can we show this?

One way we can show it is by demonstrating a job, family connections, money in your bank account, these kinds of things, to demonstrate that you are sufficiently tied to your home country. That’s one of the reasons why it gets denied. So if it has been denied for that reason, I think you’re going to have a hard time re-establishing that or convincing them otherwise. When you’re denied, you have to reapply. One of the things we tell people, even though we usually don’t get involved with visit visas, is you have to let the dust settle. You have to wait and give the State Department time to process the case and to not just jump right back in and file a whole new application, because when you do that it makes it look worse, not better.

We always tell people that you should take some time in between applications. If your B2 or B1 visit visas have been denied we would suggest waiting at least six months, and preferably a year, before you reapply. Constantly reapplying does you no good. It just digs you a bigger hole. We have people that visit us on the website that say, “Jim, I have applied three times for a visit visa and I’ve never gotten it.” I say, “What is the time frame of those three denials?” They say, “I applied once a month, over and over.” People really do themselves a disservice when they do that. They think they are going to convince the officer of the proof that they really are intending to come back home. That’s just a bad idea. You’re just annoying the State Department. You’re annoying the consular officials.

The other thing you can do if your case has been denied is to think long and hard about why it was denied. You can put together more evidence to show why you intend to come back. If you have a job, you can show that your job requires your presence. If you’re traveling for work, you can show them that you have a short itinerary and that you have every intention of coming back. You can’t just be reactionary and clicking on applications and paying filing fees and thinking, “Oh my gosh. This time it’s going to be different.”

In the case of family members, if the person that is applying for the visit visa has the opportunity to a just status within the United States based on their familial relationship with a U.S. citizen, I think you’re going to have a really hard time getting a visit visa. My advice to you is to stop clicking on the application and applying over and over and over. What do I mean by that? The State Department has procedures for people that want to sponsor their mom or their dad to come to the United States on a permanent basis.

What they are concerned with is that your mom or dad, if you apply for them for a visit visa, are just going to try to get a green card once they get here. It’s sort of an end run around the process by which people sponsor their mom or dads for a visa. Even if your parent is not intending to do that, that’s the view that they look at this through. They think that everybody wants to come to the United States. So it’s important to keep in mind that just because you have good intentions, just because you have no plans to have your mom or dad stay and get their green card, if you are a U.S. citizen it’s going to be really hard to show that that is not the case.

Visit visas are tricky. We don’t really get involved with them very often. We’re trying to send out these videos to show that you really need to be careful in applying for it. You don’t want to just be obnoxious and reapply, reapply, reapply. You want to think through why it was denied. You want to let some time settle and then, if at the end of the day you think you have a strong position, then file again. But make sure that you have addressed the issues raised in the original denial to the extent that you know them. We’re sorry it’s so frustrating. We’re sorry that you can’t get more certainty in the process. It does cost money to apply, and we know that’s frustrating.

If you have any other questions about any part of the immigration process, give us a call: 314-961-8200. Or you can email us: jim@hackinglawpractice.com. Thanks.