Month: October 2016

Does Mandamus Only Work in Delayed Citizenship Cases?

Do mandamus lost its only work and citizenship cases?

Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States out of our office here in St. Louis Missouri. We’ve had a lot of success in suing the federal government, USCIS, and the Department of Homeland Security when our clients’ naturalization cases have taken too long.

The law says that if you’ve had your naturalization interview and 120 days have gone by, that you can go into federal court and ask a federal judge who doesn’t work for the immigration service to order the immigration service to decide your case, or the judge can decide on his or her own initiative whether or not you get to become a citizen.

The immigration service doesn’t like it when you sue them and they don’t like the idea that a federal judge will take their job from them. When you file a lawsuit, typically what happens in most cases is, they decide to decide the case. The case gets moving and cases that have been waiting for two, three, or four years can finally get resolved. That law, regarding the 120 days, is pretty black letter and the immigration service doesn’t have a lot of wiggle room. One of the tricks they try is they don’t schedule the interview right away.

Sometimes we’re filing lawsuits for naturalization applicants who have never had their interview because that doesn’t start that 120 day clock and that’s why they do it. We have had success in getting those cases moving. They’re not as highly successful as the ones where there’s been an actual interview, but we’ve probably filed suit on behalf of about 70 people who’ve been waiting for citizenship and the lawsuits generally work. They don’t work in every case, but they work in most cases. We wondered whether or not we’d be able to file these kinds of lawsuits and other cases in the immigration context, cases in which the naturalization was not an issue, but rather someone could get a green card.

One day a young man came to see me and he had filed his own mandamus against the immigration service because his green card case had been pending too long. They hadn’t scheduled him for an interview and his case had been pending for two years. He and his wife were getting frustrated that every time they went down to the immigration office that they couldn’t get any answers. He figured out how to draft a lawsuit and filed it on his own in federal court. We don’t recommend this.

Filing a mandamus action is actually pretty tricky, and the government was starting to play games with him, trying to change venue and filing a motion to dismiss and all these things. We wanted to see what would happen and we took this case. It turns out that the lawsuit worked almost the exact same way in the green card context as it did in the citizenship context. Since that time, we’ve probably filed 10 green card delay lawsuits and we’ve had a lot of good success with that.

Then one day a lady came to see me and she was wondering about her husband’s visa case. He was from Pakistan and his case had been pending for two years. We told her that she should sue them. She was sort of skittish and worried about suing them, so she didn’t do it. A year later she came back and now she’d been waiting three years. We told her, “You should sue the state department”. We had done some research and figured out that you could, in fact, sue the state department in federal court in the United States for a delay at an embassy overseas.

She was still skittish and still scared, so she decided not to do it. The fourth year she came back and she said, “Okay Jim, let’s go ahead and sue”. We filed the lawsuit and within 90 days after filing the lawsuit, her husband was in the United States with an approved visa. This was remarkable and it only happened because we filed the lawsuit. Now we know, and we have filed subsequently more lawsuits against the state department for delays in the issuance of a visa.

Last month, we filed a lawsuit over a four year delay on an asylum case. We’re very interested to see how this case works. It’s a lawsuit against a Chicago asylum office where a man has been waiting for four years for his asylum case to be approved. These are the kinds of things that you can do with a mandamus lawsuit. Not every immigration lawyer is familiar with the rules of federal court and filing lawsuits. I had been a litigator for 10 years before I started practicing immigration law, so I feel very comfortable in federal court, in the procedures, and the filing requirements, all those things.

We’re going to file a new lawsuit today over in Ohio. We’re excited about that, for a young man who’s been waiting for citizenship for two and a half years. These lawsuits work. They don’t work every time, but they work in a lot of the situations.

If you’ve been experiencing some kind of immigration delay, make sure to give us a call at 314-961-8200. You can also e-mail us at info@hackinglawpractice.com. We hope you like this video, that you found it instructive.

If you have any questions about it, make sure to reach out to us. Make sure also, please to like this video down below. If you want to subscribe to our Youtube and Facebook channels, that would be great. You’ll get updates whenever we upload a new video.

USCIS Announces Steep Filing Fee Increases

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services USCIS has announced an increase to many of the fees associated with filing for immigration benefits in the United States.  This is the first fee increase in six years.

The increase goes into effect on December 23, 2016.

The average fee increase is 21 percent.

The biometric fee for all applicable applications will remain $85.

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Naturalization and Citizenship

The cost to naturalize (N-400) in most cases will increase from $595 to $640 (with the biometrics fee, this amount will be $725).

One slight tweak to the filing fee requirement is that applicants with income greater than 150% but not more than 200% of the federal guidelines will pay a reduced fee of $405, including biometrics.

The naturalization fee waiver will remain available to lawful permanent residents who receive public assistance or have incomes under 150% of those poverty guidelines.

The fee for form N-600, the application for a certificate of citizenship, will increase almost 100% – from $600 to $1170.  This form is generally used for lawful permanent residents who became citizens as a matter of law, usually because their custodial parent became a citizen before they turned 18 years old.

Family-Based Immigration

The fee for an I-130 relative petition, which includes spouse petitions, will increase from $420 to $535.

Adjustment of status (I-485) application fees will go up from $985 to $1140.  So with biometrics, the total adjustment of status fee will go from $1140 to $1225.

Applications for a travel document (I-131) will increase a lot – from $360 to $575.

Employment-Based Immigration

Petitions for non-immigrant workers in the H-1b category will increase from $325 to $460 (in addition to the $750/$1500 training fee and $500 fraud prevention and detection fee).

Non-immigrant visas in the L category will also increase to $460 with the $500 fraud prevention and detection fee).

A petition for an immigrant worker for an immigrant visa (green card) – the I-140 – will increase from $580 to $700.

An application for employment authorization (EAD), the I-765, will increase from $380 to $410.

What if my Marriage-Based Work Card is Going to Expire?


What happens if my work and travel card expire before my green card interview?

Hi. I’m Jim Hacking, immigration attorney practicing law throughout the United States out of our office here in St. Louis, Missouri.

The St. Louis field office and some other offices around the country have gotten behind on processing spouse-based green card cases. These are situations where a US citizen has a foreign-born national spouse, and they want to sponsor that spouse for a green card. With any one of these applications, we always file the I-45, which is the application to adjust status, the I-130, which is a petition for an alien relative. We also file for work authorization and for advanced parole, so the foreign national can leave the United States if they have to.

In 95% of the cases, the interview occurs before those temporary travel document and work card expire. What happens in the 5% of the situation where that doesn’t occur, where the work card is set to expire before the interview?

Here’s what we do at our office. We always monitor the expiration dates of the work card and the travel document. The one thing we don’t want to happen is to have our clients be without the ability to work or to travel outside the United States while the green card case is pending. In St. Louis, they got way behind because of the election and because of the number of naturalization cases that they had to process, so they started delaying having the interviews on the green cards. Now, they are approaching the time where our clients’ original work card and travel document have expired.

The good news is that you can apply for a renewal. You have to submit 2 more passport photos, a new I-765, and a new I-131 for advance parole to make sure that you keep that process smooth, to make sure that you keep a newer card, a new travel document. Now, in a lot of these cases, we’re getting that right before or right after the green card interview, because they’re scheduling them right now about 14 months after filing, which is ridiculous, but it is what it is. We want to make sure that our clients have the ability to work and to leave the United States in an emergency if they need it. We’ve been filing that 4 months early, which is the earliest you can file it. You submit evidence that the green card case is still pending, and the prior approval notices, there’s no filing fee for that, so that’s the one good thing, but it is a hassle to have to do. Hopefully, the immigration service will get back on track and start scheduling these interviews in a timely manner.

If you have any questions about an expiring work card or travel document, make sure to give us a call at 314-961-8200, or you can email us at info@hackinglawpractice.com. If you like this video, please be sure to click Like below, and to sign up for our regular emails and videos, so that you understand and know when we submit a new video to YouTube. Thanks a lot and have a great day.

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USCIS backlogs prevent thousands from voting

If only they would follow the rules. This is what many citizens will say of undocumented immigrants, claiming that if they only followed the established immigration process to the letter, they wouldn’t have any issues. This is an understandable assumption, but we see with cases like that of Rudy Zamora, this isn’t always the case. Mr. Zamora, an immigrant from Mexico, is proof that the current immigration process doesn’t always work as it is intended to.

Mr. Zamora has spent his entire life as a bystander in elections rather than a participant and when he was finally able to legally submit his naturalization paperwork, he did. Yet, backlogs in naturalization processing prevented him from voting in the Nevada caucuses, an election that a reasonable person would say he applied in time for.

There are many cases similar to that of Mr. Zamora. In fact, over half a million immigrants who applied for naturalization months ago are still waiting on their answer and are coming to terms with the fact that they most likely won’t hear back before the November election. The significance of this is that despite the fact that the next president will play a huge role in their lives, they do not get a voice in who that person may be. Moreover, whether thousands of immigrants can vote or not will significantly affect the outcome of the election due to the candidates’ drastically different views on immigration.

There has been a swell in state level applications, specifically a 31.2% increase, at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that has led to a backlog that will prevent many from casting their vote.

A spokesperson from the USCIS claims that the agency is on track to meet its goal of processing applications between five and seven months, but he acknowledges that there has been a significant increase in applications across the board. The additional time it may take for particular applications depends on the processing times of specific state offices.

Diving deeper into the fluctuation of naturalization application processing times reveals that it is not uncommon for volume to spike around election time. However, the spike this year is more extreme than in the past because of the particular political climate. While one presidential nominee plans to crack down on immigration, the other nominee aspires to streamline the process and offer a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. With this in mind, it makes sense that this election is especially pertinent to immigrants.

These additional votes that could be cast could have a significant impact in the election, especially in swing states like Florida, which has more than 66,100 applications pending and consistently wavers between blue and red.

Luckily, it does appear that the USCIS is taking steps to expedite processing times through actions such as sending additional staff to offices with backlogs as well as authorizing overtime for these offices.  

The fact of the matter is that this type of backlog should never hinder a person from expressing their opinions through a ballot, yet our country is still in this situation. As the elections creeps closer and closer, more immigrants with pending applications hope and pray they might be able to participate in one of the biggest elections this century has seen.

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Which asylum office is handling my case?

Clients often ask – which asylum office is handling my case.

So we thought that we would compile this handy guide to the different asylum offices and the cases that they each handle.

Arlington Asylum Office

The Arlington Asylum Office serves the following seven states: Alabama, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia.

This office also serves the following counties in the state of Pennsylvania: Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Bedford, Blair, Bradford, Butler, Cambria, Clarion, Clearfield, Crawford, Elk, Erie, Fayette, Forest, Greene, Indiana, Jefferson, Lawrence, McKean, Mercer, Somerset, Venango, Warren, Washington, Westmoreland.

Chicago Asylum Office

The Chicago Asylum Office serves these fifteen states: Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North and South Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, and Kentucky.

Houston Asylum Office

The Houston Asylum Office serves these ten states: Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming.

Los Angeles Asylum Office

The Los Angeles Asylum Office serves Arizona, Hawaii, and the Territory of Guam.

This office also serves the following counties in the state of California: Imperial, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Ventura.  

This office also serves the following counties in the state of Nevada: Clark, Esmerelda, Lincoln, and Nye.

Miami Asylum Office

The Miami Asylum Office serves Florida, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the United States Virgin Islands.

Newark Asylum Office

The Newark Asylum Office serves these 8 states: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

This office serves the following counties in the state of New York: Albany, Allegany, Bronx, Broome, Cattaraugus, Cayuga, Chautauqua, Chemung, Chenango, Clinton, Columbia, Cortland, Delaware, Erie, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Genesse, Greene, Hamilton, Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Livingston, Madison, Monroe, Montgomery, New York (Manhattan), Niagara, Oneida, Onondaga, Ontario, Orleans, Oswego, Otsego, Rensselaer, Saint Lawrence, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Tioga, Tompkins, Warren, Washington, Wayne, Wyoming, Yates.

This office also serves the following counties in the state of Pennsylvania: Adams, Berks, Bucks, Cameron, Carbon, Centre, Chester, Clinton, Columbia, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Franklin, Fulton, Huntingdon, Juniata, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, Luzerne, Lycoming, Mifflin, Monroe, Montgomery, Montour, Northampton, Northumberland, Perry, Philadelphia, Pike, Potter, Schuylkill, Snyder, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga, Union, Wayne, Wyoming, York.

San Francisco Asylum Office

The San Francisco Asylum Office serves the following states: Alaska, Oregon, and Washington.

The office serves the following counties in the state of California: Alameda, Alpine, Amador, Butte, Calaveras, Colusa, Contra Costa, Del Norte, El Dorado, Fresno, Glenn, Humboldt, Inyo, Kern, Kings, Lake, Lassen, Madera, Marin, Mariposa, Mendocino, Merced, Modoc, Mono, Monterey, Napa, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento, San Benito, San Francisco, San Joaquin, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou, Solano, Sonoma, Stanislaus, Sutter, Tehama, Trinity, Tulare, Tuolumne, Yolo, Yuba.

This office also serves the following counties in the state of Nevada include: Carson City, Churchill, Douglas, Elko, Eureka, Humboldt, Lander, Lyon, Mineral, Pershing, Storey, Wash, White Pine.

Nearly 60% of Syrian Refugees are Children

Approximately 60 percent of the 2015 admitted refugees from Syria were children.  This is a larger percentage than most refugees.

One reason for the high percentage is that Syrian families are generally large.  Moreover, the devastation from the war in Syria is so massive that there are simply a ton of families being displaced.

These children are now enrolling in public schools across the United States in cities like Chicago, Austin and New Haven, Connecticut.  This presents a challenge to schools trying to integrate these students into the prior student population.

According to a recent report by ABC News, Syrian children experience similar challenges to other young refugees — limited English, an education delayed by war and displacement — but they are somewhat distinct in the level of trauma they have experienced, school leaders and resettlement workers said.

“The truth is, a lot of them have seen some pretty nasty stuff,” said Eyal Bergman, a family and community engagement officer for a California school sistrict. “But I also see incredible resilience.”

Schools are increasing the number of English classes and trying to educate the Syrian parents as to how the U.S. educational system works.

Some students are enrolled in “newcomer” classes which include a heavy dose of English.  Others are placed with mainstream students right away.

For parents, the schools offer parental training sessions in Arabic on school procedures, how to read the school calendar and how to get services for their children.

Parents and advocates worry too about the harsh rhetoric from Republicans during this election season.  Statistics suggest a sharp uptick in anti-Muslim bullying following the xenophobic messages of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

One thing to remember in all of this is that the children are just that – children.  They miss the home that they left behind – their toys, their friends, their families.

St. Louis has taken in a number of refugee families due to the good work being performed by the International Institute, a refugee resettlement facility.

Acclimating to life in the United States can be very difficult.

Here’s What To Do After You Get Your Asylum Interview Notice

What do I do after I receive my asylum interview notice?

Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States out of our office here in St. Louis, Missouri. You know, a lot of the videos that I shoot, that we make, are based on current situations at our office, questions that come up either from clients or potential clients. We have a very interesting situation here in the office that just occurred. We have a fair number of asylum cases for clients from Iraq right now. Probably in our office, we’re handling about fifteen of these, and some of them have been pending for two years or more.

Last week, we got not one, not two but three asylum interview notices for the same day, and so we are working with each of our clients to prepare them for their interview and to gather the supplemental documents that we want to submit prior to the interview. It’s a very interesting time here. It’s very hectic so I’m going to shoot this video as quickly as I can. Basically, I wanted to talk to you about what we do to get ready for that final interview. The one thing that we do first and foremost is we meet with our client again. We go over the statement that we submitted, so whenever we file an I-589 asylum application, we always send in a long statement from our clients detailing why they fear persecution if they return back home.

The first thing we do is we review the statement with them and we go over it line by line with them, and we do that a couple of times to make sure that they’re comfortable, to refresh their recollection. As I mentioned, many of the time, these people had filed these two years or more ago. They probably haven’t really read up on it or paid attention to exactly what’s going on day to day in their home country so we want to prepare them for the interview because when they go to the interview, usually we don’t say that much as the attorneys involved. We really want our clients to stand on their own two feet, to be able to demonstrate and explain to the officer why they feel they need asylum and protection from persecution back home.

We spend a lot of time obviously preparing the clients for that interview. The other things we do is we start gathering supplemental evidence so again the evidence that we submitted two years ago might not be timely, and especially with countries like Iraq or where things are happening quickly and sides are changing and cities are falling, all these things are important to bring up, especially as we particularize them to our client’s case.

For instance, if we have a Sunni Muslim who doesn’t want to join ISIS, then we’re going to want to demonstrate what’s happening to Sunni Muslims who don’t join ISIS these days, so we want to make everything fresh and contemporary and updated, and we also want to go through and highlight all of that in the supplemental application memo so that the officer has an easy time going through the evidence and they understand why our client still feels they’re going to be persecuted if they return back home.

The two big things are to prepare for the interview by going over your statement, recollecting why you feel you’re going to be persecuted if you go back home, and the other one is to make sure that you’re submitting supplemental evidence, updated Human Rights Watch reports, State Department Country Conditions reports and any kind of news reports that apply to the situation in your home country. The tricky thing with asylum is that you wait and wait and wait for months and years and then when you get the notice, you basically have about two weeks to get your materials together and we like to submit them ahead of time, so they’re actually going out right now, as we speak, to the officer before they come to the interview.

If you have any questions about getting ready for your asylum interview or if you’re thinking about applying for asylum or you’re wondering whether or not you’re going to be able to show a credible fear of future persecution if you return back home, be sure to give us a call at 314-961-8200 or you can email us at jim@hackinglawpractice.com.

If you liked this video, be sure to click Like below and subscribe to our YouTube channel so that you get updated whenever we post new videos. Thanks a lot and we hope to see you soon. Bye, bye.

Don’t Use a Notario or Friend for Immigration Help!

Should I use a notario or friend to help me fill out my immigration forms? Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States.

We want to begin this video by talking about what exactly is a notario, or a notary. A lot of time, in immigrant communities, you’ll see people hang out a shingle that says, “Immigration Forms, Forms and Taxes, Taxes and Forms, Immigration Help Here.” The person who hangs out the form is not an attorney. What you should know first and foremost, that this is the unauthorized practice of law. These people are breaking the law by claiming to be able to help you fill out forms. The law is designed to protect you. The law is designed to protect the immigrant from people what claim to know how to fill out forms.

We have seen many, many, many cases, far too many cases get denied or really, really screwed up because of bad advice that a notario, or a notary, or a friend, has given to an immigrant in completing their forms. The first problem is is that immigration is a whole lot more than just filling out form. A lot of people think that it’s just a matter of checking boxes and filling in information. The thing that is important is that each of the questions on most immigration forms, other than the biographical information, each of those questions are designed to address a particular area of the law within immigration. A statue, a law, or a regulation, that sets forth why someone may or may not be entitled to the immigration benefits sought.

Now, notarios, they just want your money. They just want to get your money in their pocket and to fill out the form as quickly as possible. We routinely see and hear about cases in which a notario fills out forms for someone, and the person is clearly not eligible for the benefits sought. The application is then denied, and the immigrant finds themselves not only with a denied immigration form, with the loss of the money that they paid to the notario, but sadly, they find themselves in deportation. This is one of the big ways that notarios can really screw up your case.

Another thing is that because they don’t know the law, they sometimes say things in your application, or they tell you to fill out a form a certain way, and that is bad information. We just got off the chat today with someone who said that the notario told them to lie about the fact that their father had been deported. They told them to check the no box instead of the yes box. They were trying to get the father back to the United States. Well, this is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. Notarios are not lawyers, they’re not steeped in the law, they haven’t studied the law, and sadly, they make mistakes all the time.

They often prey on the fact that they are of the same immigration background, the same nationality, the same ethnic community as people who are seeking immigration benefits, so very very, very careful in dealing with a notario or anyone that says that they are able to fill out immigration forms. Make sure you see their bar card. Make sure that they’re an attorney. Check out their online reputation. Make sure that they are reputable and that they know what they’re doing.

If you have been screwed over by a notario, or if you feel like you have been taken advantage of, or have given them too much money, or given them money and they gave you bad information, you should really follow-up with your state attorney general. You should really follow-up with your state bar association, because like I said, this is the unauthorized practice of law. These people are taking advantage of the immigrants. They don’t know what they’re doing. They’re going to screw up your case.

I don’t care if you hire me or any other immigration attorney, but you absolutely should not be doing business with a notario. You should instead get competent immigration advice from a good immigration attorney, whether that’s me or somebody else, that’s just fine, but this video is a public service announcement trying to encourage you to stay away from notarios at all costs. They will hurt your chances of staying in the United States. They could get you deported, and they clearly don’t know what they’re doing.

If you have questions about this, give us a call at 314-961-8200, or your can email us infoathackinglawpractice.com. If you like this video, be sure to click the like button. If you want to sign up for our YouTube channel, make sure you subscribe so that you get updates like this video, whenever we send out a new post.

Thanks a lot, and have a great day.

Lessons Learned from Back to Back Asylum Interviews

What lessons did you learn attending 2 asylum interviews in 1 day?

Hi I’m Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States out of our office here in St. Louis, Missouri.

I’ve had a very interesting day this week. I spent the entire day with an asylum officer and 2 of my asylum clients down at the local immigration office. In St. Louis, we don’t have an asylum office, we operate out of the asylum office in Chicago so periodically the asylum office sends officers down to St. Louis to conduct a week’s worth of interviews.

This was very interesting because while my clients have been waiting for more than 2 years for their interviews, we got about 10 days notice of the interview itself. We sort of had to scramble to get our supplemental materials in to file all that on time, and to make sure that the officer had a copy of all the evidence that we wanted to submit in support’s of our client’s claim that they would face persecution if they were forced to return back home.

We had 1 interview at 8:00 and the other one at 12:30. Our office actually had 3 interviews, but I only conducted 2 of them. We learned a lot that day. We learned a lot, we’re always trying to learn and share that information with you, and with our clients to try to help you get the most beneficial results at the asylum office and to get the information that you need so that you can put together the strongest case possible and do a good job at your interview.

What we learned. One thing we learned is that the officers are very well prepared. They’re very well advised and have knowledge of the situation on the ground. Both of my clients happened to be from Iraq on this particular case so the officer had a tremendous amount of information about Iraq and he did not need us to go into any country conditions or anything. That’s very instructive for you if you’re thinking about or preparing for your asylum interview and that is, you need to cut to the chase. You need to get started, you need to tell the officer exactly why you fear persecution if you return back home. He’s not going to want to hear just about country conditions, or she wants to hear about you. About your experience, about what your fears are, about what threats you’ve had, what incidents you’ve had that make you fear going back because the best example, the best way to show future persecution is by showing past persecution.

The officers don’t want to engage in a bunch of small talk. They dive right in. First, they go over the form, the I-589 and they go over the biographic information and then, in both interviews, the officer started off by saying “Why do fear going back to Iraq?” Then just sort of left it open.

Then he asked about prior incidents of persecution or threats or harm or harassment and they spent a lot of time talking back and forth, my client and the officer about that. This particular officer was also a very sensitive fellow, I really liked him a lot. I thought he did a tremendous job and that he was very fair with my clients.

Another thing that we know already but was re-emphasized by going through the interview is that not every question is designed to trick you, or to punish you, or to weaken your case. Sometimes the officers ask neutral questions and sometimes I think they ask questions that are designed to help the client. To help them remember things, to make sure that the officer gets all the information. This particular officer I thought was a very fair arbiter. A very fair judge. A very fair officer in assessing the evidence. He wasn’t trying to trick anybody, he wasn’t unfair I thought. I thought he was very methodical, very matter of fact, very sensitive, there were times in any asylum case where your client is expressing real fear and I think he was very sensitive to that. I think he’d been very well trained. He’d obviously handled a lot of interviews before and I thought he was very thorough.

You need to be ready. You need to be ready for your interview, you need to be able to tell your story, you need to be able to articulate it. With each of our clients, I think we prepped them each 3 times for a couple hours each time to make sure that they were ready. To make sure that they remembered everything. On the back end, at the end of the interview, I in both cases made a statement. In 1, I made sure that my client was mentioning a few of the incidents that he had neglected to mention and which the officer had not followed up on. I wanted to make sure that the officer had a thorough understanding of the facts of the case. In the other one I did make a brief closing statement and I have to tell you, I was touched by what my client said. I think the officer was touched by what my client said. It was very hard to listen to someone express such base fear of going back home. It’s going to be very dangerous for him if he has to.

We’re very hopeful that they both get asylum here in the United State. We’re feeling good about the cases. Obviously we don’t want to jinx it but we thought our clients did a really good job, that we had put together the strongest case possible, that they did a really good job of articulating their positions and I think the officer was able to assess that these are very credible fears. These are 2 men who really fear bringing their family back from the United States to Iraq and we’re hopeful that the interview went well and that eventually the clients will get approved.

The officer made a point to tell everybody before we even started that there would be no decision today, that we would be conducting the interview and it was just one piece of the puzzle, that there were other supervisors and other people that have to weigh in on the asylum claim and that the interview itself was just one small piece of that.

We hope this video enlightened you as to some of the things you need to think about as you go into the asylum interview. It’s obviously very stressful, very important. It’s almost I think, a holy or a sacred event, it’s very surreal. It’s very unusual, it’s not like any other kind of immigration interview. It’s really where someone’s basically pleading for their life to not have to go back home. I think that really come through to the officer so we’re happy about that.

If you have any questions about asylum, if you’re getting ready for your interview, if you need some help, need some pointers, make sure to give us a call at (314) 961-8200. We’d be happy to represent you, to help you file the strongest asylum application possible or to strengthen your case before you go to interview.

You can also call us at (314) 961-8200. You can email us at jim@hackinglawpractice.com

We hope you like this video. We have a lot of asylum content on the YouTube website and on our regular website so if you have questions make sure to subscribe to our YouTube Channel and if you like this video, please give us a like down below.

Thanks a lot and have a great day.

Board of Immigration Appeals Reverses Denied I-130

Our office recently won an appeal at the Board of Immigration Appeals for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (“USCIS”).

We were hired by a U.S. lawful permanent resident after the I-130 Petition for an Alien Relative was denied by USCIS.

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On September 14, 2015, our client filed a Form I-130 on behalf of her husband, a Pakistani national.  She sought to classify her husband as the spouse of a lawful permanent resident under Section 203(a)(2) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

Our client filed the form without an attorney.  She apparently did not provide all of the required evidence that USCIS wanted before approving the application.

So on January 28, 2016, USCIS sent our client a Request for Evidence (RFE).  The RFE directed the U.S. citizen to submit the “Nikah Nama” between our client and her Pakistani husband.

The Nikah Nama is the marriage contract between a bride and groom.  The Nikah Nama is prepared for any Pakistani marriage and we have never filed a case from Pakistan without it.  Apparently, our client did.  The RFE also instructed our client to submit a translation of the Nikah Nama as well.

The petitioner filed her response by herself on February 5, 2016.  She still did not decide to hire an attorney.   According to USCIS, our future client submitted the translation of the Nikah Nama, but not the original Urdu version itself.

The case was accordingly denied.  Ordinarily, USCIS issues a Notice of Intent to Deny.  But this was a case involving a Muslim man from Pakistan so USCIS apparently skipped this procedure.

The U.S. citizen wife found us on YouTube and asked for our help.  We filed a timely appeal and pointed out the fact that – in this case – the Pakistani government officials had provided our clients with an English version only.  But we asked our client to go ahead and get an Urdu copy and they did.  We submitted both on June 28, 2016.  We also submitted additional marriage evidence.

On September 23, 2016, the Board of Immigration Appeals reversed itself and approved the I-130 Petition for an Alien Relative.  Our client is ecstatic and her case is back on track.

Several lessons here.

Once the client received an RFE, she should have hired an attorney.  At that point, her case was in trouble and she needed help.

Also, USCIS denied this case on a super-technical reason.  We do not believe that the client was treated fairly and we believe this unfair treatment was because her husband was from Pakistan and not from France.

Finally, the reason that this result is especially good is that the U.S. lawful permanent resident would have had to start all over if the appeal was denied.  Because there is a cap on the number of spouses of LPRs who are allowed to come to the U.S., it would have added an extra year or more to the time this couple had to spend apart.

We are happy that we won.