Winning the lottery is just the first step.
In December of 2015, our office was contacted by another immigration lawyer in town. Her clients had been waiting for a green card for the foreign-born wife for over a year and a half.
The lawyer thought that our office could help.
We met with Frank and Gigi (* not their real names) and they told us their story.
Gigi was born in Thailand and was a widow. Her husband had died in a motorcycle accident shortly after the birth of their second daughter.
A few years later, Gigi applied for a visit visa to come and visit relatives in the U.S. Her first request for a visa was denied. Then she hired a “visa consultant” in Thailand who “helped” Gigi fill out the visa application.
Gigi and the consultant completed the DS-160 and Gigi did her best to answer the questions truthfully and honestly.
But one of the questions asked about Gigi’s marital status. She indicated on the form that she was “married.” Gigi thought the question meant had you ever been married so she said yes.
The visa was approved and Gigi came to the United States.
A few months after she arrived, Gigi met a man named Frank. Frank was a U.S. citizen and a former Marine. Frank and Gigi decided to get married.
Frank completed an I-130 Petition for Alien Relative and Gigi applied for adjustment of status. Wisely, they hired an attorney to help them with the application process.
Frank also filed I-130 Petitions for Gigi’s two daughters back in Thailand. They were staying with Gigi’s parents.
The St. Louis field office scheduled Gigi and Frank for a green card interview. They successfully completed the interview but then the case dragged on for months and months.
Frustrated and unable to get any answers from the local USCIS office, the attorney recommended that Gigi and Frank visit our office to see if we could help.
After discussing the situation and learning about the confusion surrounding Gigi’s visa application, we sent a letter to USCIS and threatened to sue them if they did not decide the case quickly.
Instead of issuing a grant or a denial, the Service sent us a new interview notice. They claimed that Gigi had misrepresented herself at the embassy and wanted to discuss it with us.
We attended the interview and explained that there was no fraud or misrepresentation. We explained that the only problem was that Gigi had misunderstood the question about marriage. We provided proof of her ex-husband’s death and explained how it was all a misunderstanding.
A few months later, the Service invited us to file an I-601 waiver for the alleged misrepresentation.
Without conceding that Gigi had misrepresented herself, we did go ahead and file for the waiver. We submitted evidence of how Gigi supported Frank, how she helped take care of Frank’s elderly father and the extreme hardship that would befall Frank if Gigi were not granted the waiver.
While we awaited that decision, the I-130s for the girls back in Thailand had been approved. Gigi could not leave the country due to her shaky immigration status. So Frank, the ex-Marine, went back to Thailand on his own to get the girls.
And that he did.
Shortly after Frank and the girls returned to the U.S., Gigi’s waiver and green card were approved.
Now the family is all united in St. Louis. We ran into them yesterday at the Webster Groves Fourth of July carnival.
Turns out that Gigi is now pregnant.
We couldn’t be happier for this awesome family.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Or you can call us at 3149618200. Thanks a lot. Peace.
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 email@example.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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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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Can I leave the United States after filing my adjustment of status application based on marriage to a US citizen?
Hi, Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States out of our office here in St. Louis, Missouri. Whenever we file an adjustment of status application, we always make sure to make sure to file some accompanying documents, including an I-131, which is an application for a travel document, an I-765, which is for work authorization, and some other documents identifying the individuals involved in the process. There’s obviously the I-130, petition for an alien relative, and then adjustment of status application.
It usually takes about four months from the date of filing for the non citizen to receive their work card/travel documents. In the old days, these would come as separate documents. The travel document would be a piece of paper with the alien’s face on it, and the work card would be separate. For the last two years or so, USCIS has combined those into a single document. The way it works is after you file the I-130 and the I-45 package, a biometrics notice is sent out after the case has been receded, and the foreign is given an appointment date to go to the local service center and to get fingerprinted.
At that point, there are biometrics completed. Those are the biometrics, and then takes about ninety days for the background check to be completed. During that time, you’re in sort of limbo if you’re the foreign national. If you leave before you get the work card and the travel document in the mail, then you are most likely going to be deemed to have abandoned your adjustment of status application. At that point, that becomes a real problem. We recently had a situation where someone did just that. Her father got sick, and she had to leave the United States. Now she’s being forced to [council 00:01:50] her process. That is, she’s going to have to go through the consulate back home in China and deal with the State Department and the National Visa Center and all those other aspects of immigration that make life a little bit more difficult when you’re trying to come from overseas.
Generally, it’s a bad idea to leave before your travel document arrives. The USCIS doesn’t like it. It makes your case very complicated. It slows things down. Obviously, you’re not going to be able to come back into the United States until your I-130’s improved, and you go through the [counselor 00:02:23] process. Think long and hard before leaving the United States. If you haven’t gotten your travel document, a lot of times, especially married couples will have travel plans. Sometimes we have to tell them that perhaps those plans need to be changed. There aren’t many ways to expedite the travel document. The process takes as long as it takes. Sometimes USCIS does take the full ninety or even a hundred days to issue that travel document.
If you have any questions about this, be sure to give us a call at 314-961-8200, or you can email us at email@example.com. If you like this video, please give us a thumbs up like on the YouTube channel. Make sure to subscribe to our channel so that when we update with new immigration videos, you’re the first one to see them. Thanks a lot, and have a good day.
What is the latest trick used by USCIS in cases involving marital evidence?
Hi, Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer, practicing law throughout the United States here in St. Louis, Missouri.
I was a little shell-shocked the other day when I went to an interview and I had something happen that hasn’t ever happened before. I have a client and his wife, they’ve been married for many years. I have every reason to believe that it’s a completely legitimate marriage, and we were going for my client’s naturalization interview. My client is from my India and his wife is from the United States, and they’ve been married three years, so they can apply for naturalization for him under the three-year rule. Generally, it takes five years for someone with a green card to be able to apply for naturalization, but if you’re married to US citizen, you can apply after three years, and that’s what we had done.
We submitted a ton of evidence of the marriage: the couple travel together, they live together, they combing of all their assets. They have ton of evidence that the marriage is legitimate, but something happened with the interview that really surprised me. The officer said that she wanted original mail that came to the house. She was not happy with computer-generated bank statements with documents off the Internet. I’m not talking now about birth certificates and marriage certificates and those kinds of things. Those things you always have to bring the originals, but at this N-400 interview, she was expecting us to bring not only copies for her to have but also the originals of junk mail, envelopes, and these kinds of material. I was really surprised by this. In many years of practice, I’ve never had this happen, and then I found out from a former client who filed on their own that this happened to them too this week at the St. Louis immigration office.
This may just be a trick at the St. Louis office, or it could be something that’s going on across the board now. Here’s what you have to remember: Immigration likes to think of ways to mess with people’s cases. A lot of people think: “Oh, if I just submit the evidence and fill up the forms directly, everything is going to be approved,” and that’s not the case. It’s simply not the case. The immigration service likes to cause mischief, likes to find ways to screw people over, and this is my honest belief after dealing with them for years and years.
I don’t say this lightly, but I honestly believe that at various times they come up with different ways to deny cases. We see this a lot in the St. Louis office. I’ve seen in other cases, so certainly there are straightforward cases, but the case that I had in front of the officer last week was a very straightforward case. This has been bothering me. I’ve been upset about this for the last week and a half, and now I’m having to reconsider the cases that we filed. I’m going to have to talk to my clients about supporting evidence and about bringing more evidence and more evidence and how they want originals now. This is going to apply in original I-130 visa petitions. In cases in which the immigration officer asks for these documents, we’re going to have to provide it. It’s going to apply in I-751s where clients are trying to get the conditions removed from green card, and it’s really going to be a big hassle, and it’s really stupid.
I understand that couples need to provide competent evidence of their marriage. I understand that the immigration service needs to determine whether or not a marriage is valid, but when you have a couple who are both professionals, who both live together, who’ve been together for many years, who have reams and reams of documentation that happens to be off the Internet. We live in a paperless society. The vice president Al Gore said that he was going to turn the federal government into a paperless entity, and so it should be no surprise that our clients are generating documents off the Internet, but their bank statements are delivered electronically, that their electric bill, their phone bill, their gas bill. These kinds of bills all come electronically now. Certainly, there are people that get these by a regular mail, but what point is it to make them get original copies, if the photo copies of these items are sufficient.
It’s really a joke. It’s really ridiculous. It’s just another example of the federal government overreaching, overstepping, and spending your money, wasting our time in ways that are meaningless and pointless, and it’s really a foolish, foolish endeavor. You got to be ready for this. We made this video so that you understand what you’re up against when you’re dealing with the immigration service.
One of the great things about being an immigration attorney is that you’re in a lot of interviews and you get to see a lot of things, and so that helps us do a better job of preparing our clients for their interview, getting them ready document-wise and preparation-wise for their interview. We really recommend that you think through doing this by yourself. I think that this is another example of where the immigration service can really cause mischief, especially with people who don’t have attorneys, don’t know how to respond to these overbearing, overlong and ridiculous request for evidence. If you’re thinking about filing on your own, think it through real hard. Make sure that you want to do it on your own, because it can be a really big hassle.
If you have any questions about this, about this new policy, about this approach that they’re taking, just another way for them to mess with people who are applying for immigration benefits, give us a call at 314-961-8200, or you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you like this video, please be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel, so that you get alerted when we send out new videos.
Hope you have a great day, and thanks for watching.
As previously discussed, we have been seeing a sharp uptick in USCIS harassing and antagonizing people who appear before the agency without an attorney. The Service seems to almost take glee in messing with people who are unrepresented and a recent case that we handled bear this out. The case provides several important lessons for those folks considering “goint it alone.”
We had the privilege of representing a nice doctor from Canada and his American wife. The couple had dated for several years and would travel back and forth frequently between Canada and the States. Ultimately, they decided to get married and the U.S. citizen decided to sponsor her husband for a green card.
The couple considered hiring an immigration attorney, but decided to apply pro se, that is, without an attorney. They did a ton of research on the internet and downloaded all of the forms. They made an InfoPass appointment and showed all of the forms to the woman at the front window. The CIS woman said that “everything looked good.”
Unfortunately, the couple neglected to file an I-131, which is a request for a travel document known as advance parole. This error caused real problems for the couple later on down the road because the Canadian doctor had to leave the U.S. while the green card case was pending. But he left without permission (advance parole). Technically, at this point, the green card case was abandoned and no longer approvable.
The doctor was lucky enough to be allowed into the country when he tried to return to the U.S. Customs officials could have said that he had demonstrated immigrant intent by filing an abandoned green card application. But they allowed him to return. Shortly thereafter, the couple were scheduled for a green card interview with USCIS.
At the interview, the officer chided them for abandoning the green card application and, in addition, concluded that the doctor had misrepresented himself when he returned to the U.S. She believed that there was no way he could have gotten into the U.S. without having lied to Customs. The officer approved the I-130 marriage petition, but denied the green card case as abandoned and because of the alleged misrepresentation.
It was at this point that the couple consulted with our office. When we heard the tale and determined who the examining officer was, we believed that a great injustice had occurred. We believed our clients and that absolutely no fraud had occurred. We refiled a new I-485 application to adjust status to that of lawful permanent resident.
We recently appeared for the interview. We had a different officer (who happens to be an attorney) and she quickly deduced that this was a situation in which the couple did not understand the rules and that no fraud had occurred. We are happy to report that the adjustment application was approved and our client’s green card is on its way.
The main takeaway is that even a relatively straightforward case can get screwed up by not filing the proper forms. Leaving the U.S. while any immigrant application is pending is extremely risky. This is especially true when you don’t have the right forms on file. Not having a sophisticated immigration attorney can also cause big problems.
Congress has extended the Special Immigrant Visa Program for Iraqi nationals. This program covers Iraqi citizens who—from March 20, 2003 to Sept. 30, 2013—worked for the U.S. government in Iraq for at least one year. The extension allows USCIS to approve visa or adjustment of status applications in any Iraqi SIV case that were pending with USCIS or the Department of State (DOS) when the program expired on Sept. 30, 2013.
The legislation also authorized the approval of an additional 2,000 cases as long as the initial applications to the DOS Chief of Mission in Iraq was made by Dec. 31, 2013. The authority to grant derivative SIV status to spouses and children of principal Iraqi SIVs did not expire on Sept. 30, 2013, and is not numerically capped.