Category: Citizenship / Naturalization

When should I consider withdrawing my immigration case at USCIS?

Every now and then, people come to see us at the office, and they have a case that is completely messed up. These are usually cases that they have filed pro se, which means they filed them without an attorney, and their case has gotten a bit more complicated, and we have to start considering the option of withdrawing a case.

Now, you never really want to withdraw a case because obviously you’ve paid your filing fees, and when you withdraw the case, you do lose your filing fees. You also might have a lot of time invested in the processing of your case, and you might’ve done a lot of work to get it as far as you did, but in certain circumstances, it is a really good idea to go ahead and withdraw the case.

What are some examples of this? Well, one time somebody came to see us, and after he had filed his citizenship application, he had gotten arrested, and his criminal charges were pending. It looked like we were not going to be able to get the criminal case disposed of before the citizenship interview, so we went ahead and withdrew the case.

We had another situation where a young couple came to see us, and they had gotten their case so complicated, and there were so many bad facts in the case that we decided to withdraw that case as well, and the clients agreed.

What happened in that situation is that the couple had been fighting off and on over time, and there was a family member who was not happy about the marriage. That family member had gone down to immigration and reported them as having these marital problems, and we were worried that if we went ahead with the interview with everything just as it was, it’d really put us in a bad light, and the case would probably be denied because there are things worse than a denial because you can be caught with a fraud or a misrepresentation allegation, and that’s even worse than just having your case denied.
It’s relatively easy to withdraw a case. In most situations, USCIS is glad to close the file and move on to the next case. All you have to do is send a letter with your case numbers on there and reference the fact that you want to withdraw the case. They’re generally pretty willing to do that. They’ll do it all the way up until the interview. What you don’t want to do is make them do all this extra work and then try to withdraw it.

Now, USCIS is not required to allow you to withdraw the case. We have had a few situations where we tried to withdraw a case, and immigration service did not allow us to do that, so it’s a good idea if you’re thinking about withdrawing the case or if you think that there’s something wrong with your case that you want to make sure that you go talk to a competent immigration attorney. You want to see a good immigration lawyer and make sure that everything gets squared away properly and that you’re getting good advice as to whether or not you want to withdraw the case.

It’s not something you’re going to do in every case, but it is an option, and sometimes discretion is the better part of valor. That’s an old expression, and what it means is that sometimes you want to be able to live and fight another day. You want to have another chance, and so in a lot of these cases that we’ve withdrawn, we’ve re-prepared them, we’ve gone over the facts and done things a little bit differently than the people did without an attorney, and we’ve been able to get those cases approved.

If you have any questions about your case or if you’re wondering, “Is there something wrong about my case that would make me want to withdraw it,” feel free to give us a call.

The other thing that this points out is the fact that you really want to have a good representation from the beginning because a lot of these mistakes were things that were done by the couple because they didn’t have an attorney, so this whole problem of having to potentially withdraw a case highlights the fact that it’s really important to have good immigration counsel right from the beginning.

If you have any questions, like I said, give us a call, 314-961-8200, or you can email us at info@hackinglawpractice.com.

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Thanks a lot. Have a great day.

What is Extreme Vetting

What is extreme vetting and how is it going to affect my immigration case?

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

With the election of President Donald Trump, he threw around the phrase “extreme vetting” in the immigration context. We’ve had a lot of clients ask us what does extreme vetting mean and how is it going to impact my case? We thought we’d shoot this short video to discuss it.

One thing you need to know about the immigration process, I think we can all agree it takes a very long time, that when you’re dealing with agencies like U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Department of State, Customs and Border Patrol, that there are a lot of steps for the process and no one would ever accuse the Federal Government of moving quickly on immigration cases. This is cases that take place within the United States, like adjustment of status or citizenship and also involves cases overseas where a U.S. citizen or an employer is trying to bring over a foreign national to come to the United States and have to go through the State Department and the Embassy. No one would ever say that these cases go by lickety-split, in fact, they take a very long time. The reason that they take a very is because the government is already doing an extreme amount of vetting.

Just in the last five years, we’ve seen forms balloon in size. For instance, the application to adjust status used to be six pages long. It is currently 20 pages long and growing. The same for citizenship, citizenship used to be just a few pages long, and now it is many, many pages. In the spouse visa context, we use an I-130. That form used to be two pages and now it is not two pages, but it’s much longer. It actually involves two different forms, one for the spouse, who is a U.S. citizen and one for the overseas spouse. The federal government knows how to make things grow and especially when it comes to forms and making things more complex.

Add to all this, President Trump claiming that he wanted to increase vetting to cause extreme vetting to occur when someone applies for an immigration benefit. We’ve already seen the results of this as these forms are slowly implemented. Things are slowing down at the Immigration Service. Things are slowing down at the State Department. We have cases that use to take four or five months that now take eight or nine months and they’re really being nitpicky and they’re coming up with ways to slow things down. We think that the Trump Administration has brought in experts in Immigration Law and they’ve come up in ways that are pretty devious and pretty creative to really make it harder for you to bring your loved one to the Untied States, to keep your loved one in the United States, to help them get lawful status, to help them get citizenship and we’re really seeing the consequences of this with the delays.

The other thing is that when you have an agency that’s own heightened alert like this and that wants to make things harder for everybody that we’re really seeing that denials are increasing, frustration is increasing. We’re getting a lot of people who come to see us having filed for themselves and they screwed up their case. We do what we can to help them, but this is a new era. The Trump Administration has brought a new sense of scrutiny to the Immigration Service with a harsh anti-immigrant rhetoric. The people that work at the Immigration Office seem to have slowed things down and we’re really seeing clients that are frustrated.

If you need help with this, if you’re wondering how is extreme vetting going to hurt my case or slow down my case? How could I do things to make things better, how can I increase the chances of success? How can I make sure that I do everything possible to speed my case along? You’re probably going to need to talk to an experienced immigration attorney. You’re probably going to need help. It’s a new day. It’s a new time. There’s a new President and he has made immigration one of his focus issues. He has decided to have his Administration do what they can to slow things down, especially for people from particular countries, from the Middle East, from predominantly Muslim countries. These cases are going to take a lot longer, a lot harder.

We see this too in the asylum context, that it’s going to be a lot harder and a lot longer to get asylum. The Immigration Courts are backlogged, everything’s slowing down and that is by design. The Trump Administration wants to slow down immigration to the United States. They want to make it harder for people to come here and stay here. We’ll do what we can to fight for you to help you, to help smooth line the process, to help you not have to worry so much.

We hope you liked this video. Be sure to give us a call if you need some help. (314) 961-8200 or you can email us at info@hackinglawpractice.com. If you liked this video, be sure to click “Like” below to share it with your friends and to subscribe to our YouTube and Facebook channels, so that you get updated whenever we shoot a video like this.

Thanks a lot. Have a great day.

I Became a U.S. Citizen Today!

It’s not often that you receive an email with a headline like this.

But that is exactly what one of our clients happily reported to us last week.

His name is Nurudeen.  He is a doctor in Wisconsin.

Here’s what else he had to say:

Can’t thank you enough for your professional advice and promptly filling my [writ of mandamus] which I believe expedited my naturalization interview.
I highly appreciate Andrew Bloomberg services and review with me..
It’s a glorious day in my life thanks. Attached is my picture and certificate.

Thank you and best regards.

Nurudeen also was kind enough to include the picture from his oath ceremony.

Nurudeen contacted our office two months ago.  He had been waiting for his naturalization interview for months and months.  He tried to get answers from USCIS but to no avail.

Nurudeen contacted his members of Congress and called the 1-800 USCIS number over and over.

Nothing worked.

We scheduled a Skype call to find out what was going on with Nurudeen and to ask him why he thought his case might be delayed.  Nothing made a lot of sense as he is a physician and is taking care of sick people in Wisconsin every day.

We decided to file a writ of mandamus lawsuit on Nurudeen’s behalf.  We filed the suit in the district court for the District of Columbia.  We served copies of the lawsuit on the Department of Homeland Security, US Citizenship & Immigration Services, John Kelly (DHS Secretary), Jeff Sessions (Attorney General) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Things started happening quickly at that point.  Nurudeen finally received his naturalization interview notice.  Andrew Bloomberg from our office attended in the interview with Dr. Nurudeen last week and he was approved on the spot

He became one of our newest citizens last week and we could not be happier for him.

Congratulations, Dr. Nurudeen!

Two Months After We Sue USCIS, Imtiaz Becomes a U.S. Citizen

Our office was hired earlier this year to file a mandamus lawsuit against USCIS and various other federal agencies because they were taking too long to decide a naturalization case filed by our client, Imtiaz.

His case was stuck at the Tampa field office of USCIS and he could not get any answers when he asked why his case had taken more than a year and a half to decide.

There was nothing unusual about his case.

No problems with the law.

No problems with immigration.

Imtiaz was a successful IT professional and a very nice fellow.

We filed suit on behalf of Imtiaz in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on April 21, 2017.  The lawsuit asked a federal judge to compel USCIS to decide his case.  We also asked the judge to examine a previously-secret program known as the Controlled Application Review and Resolution Program (CARRP) and to determine whether the program was illegal.

We believed (and still believe) that USCIS was delaying Imtiaz’s case because of his religion and his country of origin.

Once we served each of the defendants with a copy of the complaint and two copies of the federal summonses, things started happening on Imtiaz’s long delayed case.

We were quickly contacted by the assistant U.S. Attorney who had to defend the lawsuit.  The AUSA informed us that Imtiaz would be scheduled for a naturalization interview immediately.

The interview was held on June 7, 2017 in Tampa.  Firm attorney Jim Hacking attended the interview which went very smoothly.

The supervisor who conducted the interview requested just a few pieces of additional evidence.  We provided all documentation requested to the Tampa field office the following day.

After a few more weeks of processing, Imtiaz’s case was approved and he was scheduled for his oath ceremony.  In Tampa, if you are not changing your name, you can be naturalized at the local USCIS office, which is what happened in Imtiaz’s case.

On June 27, 2017, Imtiaz was sworn in as a U.S. citizen.  From the time we filed suit until the time that he became a citizen, just a little over two months of time had gone by.

We are very happy for one of the newest U.S. citizens around.

 

 

The Amazing Mr. and Mrs. Box

Back in 2012, attorney Jim Hacking had a consult with a young woman named Jeni and her boyfriend Jake.

What was interesting about this consult was that Jeni brought her friend Jennifer to the meeting.

Jennifer was an attorney and Jeni brought Jennifer for backup.

She wanted to make sure that the information that Jim gave her about a possible marriage based green card for Jake was legit.

So began an excellent adventure that culminated this week with Mr. Jake becoming a U.S. citizen.

Jake is from England. He grew up in Ipswich.  He fell in love with American football and played for many years.  Eventually, he began coaching defense to Europeans who also loved the sport.

Later, Jake brought his coaching talents to the U.S. That is when he met Jeni, the love of his life.

Jake and Jeni filed for adjustment of status to allow Jake to remain in the U.S.  Jake gave up coaching football after seeing how hard the life was for coaches in having to change jobs and move families all around the country.

Jake and Jeni were kind enough to invite us to their wedding.

Jake’s green card was approved.  Two years later, we filed to have the conditions removed on Jake’s green card without a problem.

The cool thing about Jeni and Jake was that they were always very appreciative of the American immigration system and considered themselves lucky that their cases went smoothly.  They empathized with those who struggled through the bureaucracy.

Last Friday, Jake became a U.S. citizen.

Jake’s parents attended the ceremony as did Jeni and their two sons, Everett and Kellen.

As immigration attorneys, there is something very special about being along the journey with people as they build a beautiful life together.  It makes being a lawyer very fulfilling.

As Jake and Jeni are wont to do, they held a party to celebrate Jake’s naturalization and were kind enough to include the Hackings as guests.  We felt very honored to be included.

And this picture below just about sums up how special and amazing Mr. and Mrs. Box are.  We love them.

Here’s What Happens When You File a Fake Green Card Case

 

Can I get away with immigration fraud if my spouse decides not to sponsor me anymore?

Hi, I’m Jim Hacking immigration lawyer practicing all throughout the United States. Yeah, it’s a ridiculous title to this video.

I have to tell you that I had something happen for the first time in my many years of legal experience. That is that someone came into my office and they told me flat out that they had paid seven thousand dollars to a friend, a US citizen friend to sponsor them for a green card based on a fake marriage. I honestly have never had that happen before and I have to tell you I was quite surprised. I was surprised that someone was that honest. I was surprised that they had the nerve to tell me. I was surprised that they were even thinking about how to get back at their US citizen spouse for not going through with the promise to perpetuate this fraud. I believe what happened is that as the interview date got closer, the US citizen wised up to what they were doing was a crime under federal law and they didn’t want to go through with it. That’s a good thing.

You shouldn’t file fake immigration cases. It’s one of the worst things you can do. It can prevent you from getting any kind of benefit whatsoever. In addition, it also makes it harder on all the good people who want to get a green card the right way who have a valid marriage. It’s bec of people that pay off other people to get them a green card that cases are harder for regular folks who are just trying to do the right thing. I was quite upset with this person. I held my anger and I told her that this is not a good thing that you did and you should be glad that you’re not going through with it anymore. My advice to her was that she should withdraw this fraud and the petition. Now that leaves her out of status and she’s been out of status for a really long time which is probably why she went ahead and paid for this. Here’s the thing folks, don’t assume that immigration lawyers are going to help you with your fraudulent fake marriage cases. That’s not our job. That’s not what we’re here for. Our job is to help the people who have legitimate claims for lawful permanent resident status for people that are married to real life citizens and have real life marriages.

We want to make sure that we’re not poisoning the well and making immigration think that we file for those claims. We don’t file for those claims. We don’t file fake claims and this person is exactly the kind of person that makes life difficult for the rest of the applicants. Obviously it should go without saying that you should never file a fraudulent marriage based case. Immigration will find out about it. We’ve had many cases in the office recently where immigration has found out about it and so if you are considering filing for a green card, it has to be legitimate. It has to be a real marriage based on what? Love. Nothing else. Not for an immigration benefit. Not because it’s convenient. Not because they want to be able to keep working. We get married for one reason and one reason alone and that reason is love. Don’t listen to anybody who tells you otherwise. Don’t engage in immigration fraud. This couple was headed to a denial. They were headed to a finding that the immigrant beneficiary had engaged in fraud, that the US citizen had engaged in fraud, they could be criminally prosecuted and they sure as heck weren’t going to get a green card.

That knowledge is an expensive lesson. I can’t believe that someone would pay that or would engage in such behavior. If you have such a case, don’t take it to this law office. We don’t have any interest in it. We’re not about filing fake immigration cases. Some people think that the only reason you need a lawyer is when you have a fake immigration case and that’s completely wrong. I’m sure that the vast majority of fraudulent immigration cases are filed by people who don’t have attorneys. Any reputable attorney would turn it down. We do sometimes hear about attorneys who don’t but I’ll tell you this right now.

Don’t ever come in here and try to pedal a fake immigration case past us. We’ll figure it out and immigration will figure it out and you’ll get deported if not, sent to jail first. That’s our lesson for today. Enough pontificating. We’re not here to berate you or to make you mad. Rather we want to educate you on the perils and the problems associated with filing a fake immigration case. Do you so at your peril. You will get caught, you will get punished, and you deserve it. All right. If you have any questions give us a call. 314-961-8200. We’d love to help you out with any legitimate spouse cases.

In the meantime, make sure you subscribe to our YouTube channel. That you like us on Facebook. We also have a Facebook group where we post news and immigration related issues on our Facebook group. It’s called Immigrant Home. So if you want to do a search for Immigrant Home you can find it on there. Otherwise, feel free to email us info@hackinglawpractice.com. Or you can call us at 3149618200. Thanks a lot. Peace.

 

How Immigration Interviews Are Like A Concert

 

Jim Hacking: How is an immigration interview like a high school musical concert? Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, Immigration Lawyer, practicing law throughout the United States. Today I was meeting with my clients, getting them ready to file their spouse visa application. They’re excited about getting it on file, but they did have some concerns about the interview itself, and so we talked about how the interview goes. About what happens, how you get sworn in, and put under oath, and how they ask for all your identifying documents. How they ask for all your other supporting documents for the application, and this principle that I’m going to talk about today really applies to all kinds of immigration cases. It doesn’t just apply to spouse cases, but in any event, I was trying to explain to them what it’s like for the officer to be receiving all of the evidence, and so obviously, I’ve never been an immigration officer, but I have been in hundreds of interviews.
I’ve had the chance to observe officers, and see their reactions, and how they respond to various answers, and to various evidence that is presented to them, and so I thought I would make this video to explain it to you the way I explain it to my clients. The way I sort of set it out is that in a lot of ways, an immigration interview is like a musical concert, and I have been spending a lot of time at my son’s various year end holiday concerts, and so the metaphor seemed apt, and so in these situations, you always have one of the high school kids. The music is sounding great, and then every now and then, you hear a wrong note, and if there’s a collection of wrong notes, then you’re sort of scratching your head and saying, “What is it about this song? What is it about this band? What’s going on? Who’s making that noise?”
It’s not what the person receiving the information or the music is expecting, so an immigration interview is a lot like that, so when you go in for your interview, you want to hit every note perfectly, and if your notes are off, if you have a combination of notes, if you strike one bad note after another, it’s going to end up with a very bad, messy interview. What do I mean by that? Well, the example we were talking about today in our meeting was driver’s licenses, so sometimes people will go to their interview and the couple may have just recently moved in together, and one or both of them may not have gotten around to updating their address on their driver’s license, so when the officer starts off the interview by reviewing their identifying documents, they look at the driver’s licenses and here you have two people, who say that they’re married, who are asking for an immigration benefit, yet they have two different addresses.

Now there might be logistical or legal reasons for this, but this is a bad note. Another bad note is when you come without all your documents. If you don’t have your original birth certificate with you or if you don’t have the original marriage certificate. These are all notes that cause the officer to pause, and we don’t want our immigration officers pausing. We want them to be going along quickly and as smoothly as possible, because when they pause, they think. When they think, they think of more questions to ask. Our job, as immigration attorneys, is to be the conductor. We want to orchestrate a interview that sounds perfect, that sounds great. Obviously, we’re always telling our clients to tell the truth, but there are really tons of reasons why the way you present yourself, the way you sound with your answers, the answers that you give, the evidence that you bring, all these things contribute to a good concert, a good interview, so make sure that you don’t sing the wrong note. That you don’t hit the wrong note.

Don’t bring in bad evidence. Don’t make it easy for them to deny your case. You want to do everything you can to have your case tracked the way that they’re used to receiving their cases, so you’re going to want to have all of your evidence lined up. You want to know all your dates. You’re not going to have any fumbling around, looking through documents, all that stuff. You really want to put on a show for the officer.

Obviously, you’re always telling the truth, and being truthful, and honest, and thorough as you can, but at the same time, there is a little bit of professionalism and good work that you bring when you go to an interview properly, so if you have any questions about this, if you want to know how we can help you sound a better tune at your immigration interview, be sure to give us a call at 314-961-8200 or you can email us at info@hackinglawpractice.com.

If you liked this video, be sure to hit the like button below and subscribe to our YouTube Channel. We’re heading towards 900 subscribers and we’re really excited about that. We want to get as many subscriptions on, so that you guys can find out whenever we update the YouTube Channel. Thanks a lot and have a great day.

 

Can a conviction for soliciting a prostitute keep me from getting my citizenship?

Prostitution is considered a “conditional bar” to establishing good moral character. INA § 101(f) and 8 CFR 316.10.

The USCIS website’s help center says, “[a]ny person coming to the United States to engage in prostitution, or any person who has engaged in prostitution within ten years of his or her application for a visa, adjustment of status, or entry into the United States, is inadmissible. This section also applies to those who have made a profit from prostitution.”

However, the Policy Manual, volume 12, chapter 5, part F, says that engaging in prostitution once, doesn’t fall within their definition of engaging in prostitution. Part F states:

“An applicant may not establish GMC if he or she has engaged in prostitution, procured or attempted to procure or to import prostitutes or persons for the purpose of prostitution, or received proceeds from prostitution during the statutory period. The BIA has held that to “engage in” prostitution, one must have engaged in a regular pattern of behavior or conduct. The BIA has also determined that a single act of soliciting prostitution on one’s own behalf is not the same as procurement.”

From that language, it seems that a client won’t be barred per se for participating once in prostitution. However, an applicant still needs to demonstrate five years of good moral standing to qualify for naturalization, as found in chapter 9 of the Policy Manual. So hopefully a client’s act of prostitution, when taken into account with their other acts, is not enough for them to fail their good moral standing test.

2016 American Nobel Prize Winners are Immigrants

At a time when immigration is in the spotlight and under attack by many critics, it is ironic that all but one of the 2016 American Nobel Prize laureates are immigrants. Laureate is the title given to those who have been honored for creative or intellectual achievements, and this is exactly what the Nobel Prize is awarded for.

The intellectual value that immigrants bring to American academics goes relatively unnoticed by critics like Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, who throughout his campaign has proposed a crackdown on immigration.

Sir J. Fraser Stoddart, an honoree in chemistry from Scotland, says the United States is what it is today because of open borders. Moreover, he accredits American openness with the bringing of top scientists to the country and says that the scientific establishment in America can only remain strong “as long as we don’t enter an era where we turn our back on immigration.”

Trump has centered his campaign around two things that appeal to a particular segment of the American population: stricter immigration policies and the revocation of free trade deals, both of which would apparently rescind the negative effects globalization has had on the job market.

While Trump wants to strengthen immigration laws and has proposed “extreme vetting” of potential immigrants from countries with a history of terrorism, others have said that the current immigration process is already too strenuous. Duncan Haldane, an English Princeton University research who won the prize in physics, called the process a “bureaucratic nightmare for many people.”

The fact that so many top American scholars are immigrants defies the common consensus that the immigration process only feeds the low-skilled job market. Critics of immigration accuse immigrants of taking low skilled in-demand jobs from Americans, but overlook the fact that they contribute greatly to American research and education.

As the presidential election approaches rapidly and immigration continues to be viewed under a microscope, it is important to acknowledge the plethora of benefits immigrants bring to American society. Hopefully, the large number of immigrant laureates is a gentle reminder to voters of this fact.

nobel-prize-blog

 

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.

uscis

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.