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.
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.