Category: Family Based Visas

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.

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What if I Flunk my Immigration Drug Test?

What happens if my fiance or spouse fails their drug test at the embassy appointed doctor?

Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the united States. Every now and then we have a client who has a problem with marijuana and they want to know what happens. Are they going to be able to come to the United States?

Here’s how it comes up. After you file a fiance petition or after you file an I130 spouse petition and the case gets processed by the national visa center, eventually at some point the foreign national, whether it’s a fiance or a spouse is going to have to go to a doctor appointed by the local embassy and that doctor is going to ask the applicant questions about their history of using marijuana. They’re also going to test their blood.

The question comes up what happens if a client fails that drug test or admits to using marijuana at the interview with the doctor? Here’s what we know. Generally, it’s a bad deal. You really, obviously, don’t want to be doing drugs. I don’t even need to go into that. From an immigration standpoint, it presents specific hurdles. What happens is, is if you fail your drug test or if you admit to marijuana drug use then you’re probably going to be kept out of the United States for a while. It’s certainly going to be a red flag for the embassy officials.

The way it works is you go see the doctor shortly before your embassy interview. In our case, our client had to go see the doctor about 3 weeks before his actual embassy interview. The doctor asked him, “Have you ever smoked marijuana.” And he said, “Yes.” And he said, “How recently?” And he said, “About 2 weeks ago.” So it’s going to show up in his blood when they get the lab results back.

First of all, let me say that I’m really glad our client was honest. You can often get in a lot more trouble for lying to embassy officials or embassy doctors or immigration officials. You never want to lie. It is good that our client told the truth, but, it does present a problem. Here’s what’s going to happen. The doctor will complete his medical report. He’ll reflect that the applicant indicated that he’d used marijuana. It’ll probably come back on his drug test and the counselor official is going to have to decide whether or not that renders our client inadmissible.

What we’re going to have to do, which probably going to happen is our overseas client is going to have to go to drug testing and drug classes for about a year. He’s probably not going to be able to come for another year. We’ll see what happens when he goes to the interview. The official may let him pass and may send him to the United States. We think that’s doubtful. What’s much more likely is that our client is going to be in communication with that doctors office over the course of the next 12 months and have to be tested up to 4 times over the course of the year and he’s going to have to attend drug classes and treatment to make sure that he’s clean and sober.

Obviously, our US citizen here, in the United States who’s spouse or fiance is very upset and we understand that. There’s really no way around it. There’s no way to try to reschedule the appointment or to do anything sneaky. You never want to come across as being dishonest or untruthful. It’s good that our client told the truth but it’s going to be a real hurdle for him. He’s probably going to be outside the United States for another 12 months. He’s going to have to spend money on drug testing and he’s going to have to spend money on treatment. Maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe in the long run, for his own health, that’s a good thing. From an immigration standpoint, it’s obviously a negative. It’s going to slow down our client and her fiance from being together and so we’re sad about that.

If you have any questions about the medical exams that go along with embassy interviews or the interview itself, remember always to tell the truth, but if you have specific questions and are wondering how to handle a situation make sure to give us a call at 314-961-8200 or you can always email us info@hackinglawpractice.com. We hope you like this video. If you did, make sure to click like and also subscribe to our channel so that you can get new updates whenever we shoot a new video. Thanks a lot, have a great day, and stay off that marijuana. See ya.

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.

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.

Spouse visa or fiance visa – which is better?

Should I marry my significant other and apply for a spouse visa, or file as a fiance without getting married first? Hi, Jim Hacking here, immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States out of our office here in St. Louis, Missouri. We get this question from time to time from couples that have been together for a while but have not yet gotten married. They want to know, is it better to come to the United States from overseas as a spouse or a fiance?

The processes are relatively similar but they’re also a little bit different. Let me talk a little bit about if. When a person wants to sponsor their fiance, we have to prove that they’ve been in each other’s physical presence at some point in the last 2 years. Obviously we don’t have to prove they’re married because they’re not married yet, but we are going to have to show that they’ve been together with each other some time in the last 2 years. The way that we do that is with photos, with trip tickets, with documentation of travel, these kinds of things to show that the 2 have been together.

We also have to demonstrate that the couple intends to get married within 90 days of the non-citizen’s arrival to the United States. Typically we do that with an affidavit from both the US citizen and the non-citizen saying that the plan is that once the non-citizen arrives in the United States, that they will go either to the courthouse or the chapel or somewhere and get married, and then apply for adjustment of status that way.

On the spouse visa side, obviously at this point the couple’s already married, so typically the US citizen has gone overseas, they’ve either met in the home country of the non-citizen or they’ve met in some third country and gotten married. They’ve gotten a marriage certificate, and they’re going to apply through the I-130 process. As things stand now, right now in 2016, spouse visas are going a lot slower than fiance visa.

We see this from time to time. Sometimes the processing time to get a fiance here is relatively similar to a spouse, but lately, for the last year or so, fiances have been coming to the United States a lot faster than spouses. If the couple has not yet gotten married we often encourage them to go the fiance route, especially if we can demonstrate that they’ve been in each other’s physical presence.

This leads to some people to come to us and they want to say, “Well, Jim we may have had a marriage ceremony but we’re not really married.” That can be tricky. Obviously you can never tell a lie to the immigration service, you don’t ever want to submit fraudulent documents, but if you haven’t recorded the marriage, if it’s just been a religious ceremony or an engagement, then you can go the fiance route, but you really have to play it straight. You can’t lie or pretend that your fiances when you’re actually married.

Speed is definitely one of the issues to think about when considering whether to come as a fiance or a spouse. Let’s talk about strength of case and likelihood to get it approved. Sometimes if there are things in the relationship between the fiance and the US citizen, things like maybe big age differences, or racial differences, that stand from people being from different countries and that they think that the couple isn’t really legitimate, they don’t speak the same language, they have very few similarities, these kinds of things.

When the couples are different, when they’re fundamentally different and worry that some racist immigration officer at the state department is going to give us trouble, if we’re worried that they’re going to say, “This couple is too different. We don’t really believe that this is a valid engagement.” Then we may encourage the couple to go ahead and get married and apply as a spouse. We believe that some cases are fundamentally stronger when filed as a spouse, as opposed to as a fiance.

In other words, state department officials often look at fiance cases and sometimes like I said if there’s too many of those differences that we think that people are going to nitpick about or take advantage of or use to deny the case, then we may encourage the couple to go ahead and get married because that demonstrates another level of commitment, a seriousness, an intention of purpose, that the couple is in fact married, sometimes goes a long way towards carrying the day and getting the case approved.

These are complicated issues. We do not encourage you to do these on your own. We think that if you want to come and bring you loved one here, that it’s an important issue, that you want to spend time thinking about and doing it correctly. We want to make sure that we put your case in a position as strong as possible. We understand that it’s difficult to be separated from your loved one, and we understand that you want to get them here as fast as possible, but sometimes you really need to consider the strength of the case and getting getting approved, as opposed to just getting them here as quickly as possible.

One other concern that you have sometimes is that when you come as a fiance you may be headed towards a Green Card interview here in the United States. After the couple gets married and they file for adjustment of status for the fiance to change their status to that of lawful permanent resident, sometimes there are interviews involved at the immigration office in your local town. If we think that there’s going to be trouble from the local immigration office, then we might also encourage you to go the marriage route.

These are the kinds of things that we think about. This the kind of thing that we talk to our clients about, and we spend a lot of time thinking it through, talking it through, to make sure that we make the best decisions because we want to get the case approved. We want your spouse or your fiance to be here, to be in the United States safely. We want to do everything we can to protect you.

If you have any questions about whether or not your case is a good fiance case or a good spouse case, or if you need some help evaluating that, feel free to give us a call at 314-961-8200, or you can email us at jim@hackinglawpractice.com. We hope you liked this video. If you did please subscribe to us on YouTube. We try to update the videos every week. If you have any topics of issues that you’d like us to cover, just email us and we’ll try to shoot a video about it. Thanks a lot, have a great day.

What do I need to know about sponsoring my brother or sister for a green card?

I was on the phone with a client yesterday. He just became a US citizen. He was wondering what does it take to bring his brother or sister to the United States.

Now you’re probably aware that there’s a long, long wait for brothers and sister of US citizens to come to the United States. The reason for this is that Congress has placed a cap on the number of these visas that are available every year. Depending on your country of origin the wait can be as short as 13 years or as long as 20 years based on current numbers at the State Department that they issue through the visa bulletin.

The first thing you need to know is that you have to be a US citizen to sponsor your brother or sister. If you’re in the United States on a green card and you’re thinking about sponsoring your brother or sister, you’re not going to be able to do it until you become a US citizen.

The next thing you need to know is that long wait. It’s a long, long wait and the process works like this. Once you become a US citizen you file what’s called an I-130. It’s a petition for an alien relative and that goes to USCIS. Now because of the long delay on visas being available because that line for a green card to come to the United States is so long, USCIS doesn’t place a high priority on adjudicating and deciding these I-130s. When you file your I-130 you’ll get a receipt notice and then you won’t hear from immigration for quite some time. Lately we’ve been seeing people get their decisions about 4 or 5 years after their file.

One thing to really keep in mind is that you have to keep your address up to date with USCIS because if you move and they can’t forward the mail to you, you might miss a deadline to reply to a question from the Immigration Service or you might miss the approval altogether. You really want to make sure that if you have any kind of pending I-130 for your brother or sister that you’re updating USCIS with your address.

Another thing we’ve been noticing is that we’ve been getting a lot of push-back from USCIS on birth certificates and on documents related to the brother or sister relationship. What do I mean? Well one thing is, a lot of people that we work with come from countries where birth certificates were not so prevalent back in the home country when the US citizens sponsor or the foreign beneficiary were born. Let’s say people were born back in India in 1956. Well back in India there might not have been birth certificates as readily available as there are now.

Now most countries have adopted a birth certificate generation system and are issuing birth certificates now, even for people born way back when but the problem is USCIS is taking a position that these late filed birth certificates, these ones that are generated years and years later when the people are adults are not as compelling evidence as USCIS would like. I think this is generally ridiculous but I can see their point. They want to make sure that there is a brother/sister relationship and the birth certificate is an important way to do that.

You might be forced to document the relationship between your brother and your sister and you in a fashion more than just submitting the birth certificates. This means you might have to submit a lot of secondary evidence that shows that you’re in fact brother and sister. This can include affidavits from older siblings or relatives, school records, family records, any kind of documents that you see that demonstrate that you are together; photographs of the two of you, school pictures. These are the kinds of things that really work.

One problem in particular is that when the parents of the brother and sister who are applying have passed away, it prevents us from being able to get DNA which is the silver bullet in establishing the brother-sister relationship. USCIS and the State Department won’t except a match just between a brother and sister. You have to go up to the parents and get their DNA and then establish with the help of a DNA lab that the brother and sister are in fact related. This can be difficult, time consuming and expensive.

You really want to think this through when you’re getting the process started because what you don’t want is to file your I-130 which is a relatively straightforward process and then the case languishes for 4 or 5 years and then all of a sudden you get a request for evidence from USCIS giving you 60 days to basically prove that your brother is your brother or your sister is your sister and you’re scrambling over those 60 days to either do DNA lab work or find old documents. Very, very stressful and we’ve seen more than one case get denied because the family was not able to get their documents together. These are cases where the people filed on their own and came to us after the request for evidence was issued.

One other thing to keep in mind, when we do the I-130 here at our office, we sort of split up the legal fee and the processing fee into 2 parts. One is the I-130 part with USCIS and the other is the State Department part with the NVC and the Embassy.

Right now we are getting started on a brother of a US citizen I-130 and so we basically only charge half our legal fee for that because nobody knows where we are all going to be 13 years from now. You might want to use a different attorney or I might never be around or whatever, you might not be around so we don’t charge the whole thing upfront, we do it split 50-50 and then on the backend right now it’s pretty exciting. We are getting to help someone who had filed for her brother from Bosnia 13 years ago and now we are going through the second part of the process with the National Visa Center and the Embassy because his visa number finally became available and he’s in line now to get his green card and come to the United states.

If you have any questions about this crazy system we have of sponsoring brothers and sisters to the United States to get them a green card, give us a call (314) 961-8200 or you can email us jim@hackinglawpractice.com. Thanks a lot.

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

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.”

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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.?

 

 

Creative lawyering nets 2 immigrant visas in 22 year old case

visa
We recently succeeded in getting two immigrant visas for a daughter and son on a case that has been pending for 22 years!
Our client decided to file a Form I-130 application on behalf of her then 5 year old daughter. Our client had obtained her lawful permanent residence status in the U.S. but had been forced to leave her daughter behind. All these years, she wanted to be reunited with her daughter.
Unfortunately, our client started out by filing the case by herself. Then, when there was no progress, she hired an online “attorney” office that prepares forms for people but are not really attorneys. That was her second bad move. They not only took her money but also never filed anything on her behalf.
By the time she met with our office, so much time had passed that normally, her recommendation would have been to start over.
However, there was one interesting wrinkle to the case. The I-130 that the client filed on her own had more or less been forgotten by U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services. There had never been a final approval or denial on the application. We were able to use the fact that the case had never been approved to the client’s benefit.
Under the law, lawful permanent residents can only apply for unmarried sons and daughters. This was true when our client submitted her application when her daughter was 5. However, over the long years of waiting, our client’s daughter had married. Normally, this would have been the end of the case.
However, our client had also become a U.S. citizen before her daughter’s marriage. Making several careful legal arguments, we not only secured an approval on an I-130 visa application that had been pending since the 90’s but is happy to report that our client’s daughter and her son-in-law have been issued visas to finally join her in the U.S.