Tag: delay

Lawsuit Pays Off For Detroit Green Card Holder

This is our client, Bhavin.

Bhavin was born in India and came to the U.S. to study.

He is an engineer and works for Ford Motor Company. Bhavin lives near Detroit, Michigan.

Bhavin obtained lawful permanent resident status many years ago through his family.

In the summer of 2015, Bhavin filed an N-400 naturalization application with USCIS.

He underwent fingerprinting and biometrics at the Detroit USCIS Application Support Center.

Then he waited for his interview.

And waited. And waited. And waited some more.

He did everything that he could do to follow up with USCIS to see why his case had been delayed.

No one would give him a straight answer.

Bhavin went to InfoPass appointments at USCIS. That didn’t work.

Bhavin asked for members of Congress to help. That didn’t work, either.

Bhavin asked for the USCIS Ombudsman, who is supposed to be the consumer advocate at USCIS to intervene. Still that didn’t work.

Frustrated, Bhavin did not know what to do.

After waiting over 15 months and running out options, he took to the internet.

He found a forum on a website called Trackitt. This website allows people with similar problems to talk about them online and to post about possible solutions.

Bhavin found some references to a crazy immigration law firm in St. Louis that helps people whose immigration cases have been unfairly delayed.

He scheduled a Skype consultation with attorney Jim Hacking of our office.

Bhavin decided to sue USCIS after meeting with Mr. Hacking.

That was six weeks ago.

Today, Bhavin had his naturalization interview at the Detroit field office of USCIS.

The interview lasted about 30 minutes. Mr. Hacking flew in from St. Louis for the interview.

Everything went well and Bhavin was approved on the spot.

His oath ceremony is scheduled for one week from now.

Congratulations, Bhavin!

What Happens After You File a Lawsuit Against USCIS

What happens after you file a law suit against the Immigration Service for delaying your case? Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States out of our office here in St. Louis, Missouri.

We get this question a lot. A lot of people are sometimes on the fence about whether or not to sue USCIS, and the FBI, and other agencies regarding delays in their immigration cases, and we wanted to shoot this video to explain to you what happens, what the process is like.

In our office, we have filed probably 60 or 70 of these cases at the present time, and we have a pretty good system for getting them out. What we do is we craft the complaint to set out the facts of your case to explain why your immigration case has been taking so long, and, most importantly, all the efforts that you’ve made to try to get the case decided without filing a law suit. We list those kinds of things that people do, like file info pass appointments, calling their Congress person or their Senator, calling the USCIS ombudsman, all the different things that you can do to try to make your case go faster. Usually those don’t work and they’re left with having to decide whether or not to file a law suit.

We draft the complaint, because you want the court to know that you’ve made good efforts to try to get your case decided. Some people wonder, “How long is a wait too long? When should I start thinking about filing a law suit,” and we generally recommend that you don’t file a Mandamas Action or a delay action under the Administrative Procedures Act until about a year has gone by. It usually takes us a couple days to put the law suit together, and then we file it in federal court.

The filing fee in federal court right now is $400. That’s always subject to change, but it’s $400 to get the law suit on file, and after we file the law suit, we file it electronically, and the good thing about federal law is that we can generally file it anywhere around the country, but lately we’ve been filing them in Washington, DC. The DC court has more experience in handling these cases. The US Attorneys up there are more easy to deal with, easier to deal with, and we generally have a good experience so far with the DC District Court.

After the law suit is on file, the court issues what are called summons, and a summons is a notice to a defendant that they’ve been sued. Typically in our cases, we sue the US Department of Homeland Security, US Citizenship and Immigration Services, the heads of those agencies as well as the head of the FBI, and the FBI itself for delays in processing mostly citizenship cases, but, also, green card and VISA type cases.

The defendants might change, depending on what kind of case we have, but the process after that is pretty much the same. After the court issues summons and have them signed by the clerk of court, we then attach that to the summons and a copy of the law suit, and we send it by certified mail to the defendants. It usually takes them about ten days or two weeks to get the law suits, and then, at that point, the defendants have 60 days to file their response. In most instances, the government does not respond much until towards the end of those 60 days.

If you serve them let’s say on March 1st, then you’re generally going to hear something from them about the end of April, and usually what they do is they tell you what their plan is, but that is what gets the ball rolling, because, at that point, there’s now an Assistant US Attorney or Department of Justice attorney who is going to have to defend that law suit, and typically what they do is they contact their people at USCIS and Homeland Security, and they figure out what’s going on with the case. They figure out if they want to fight or if they want to just proceed with the case. It usually involves them scheduling someone for an interview, and then the case is really underway.

That’s the process from start to finish, from the time that you hire us and we draft the complaint and we file the law suit, and then typically there’s then another interview or an original interview, and then the case is handled the same.

The law suits are really effective to getting movement on your cases. If you have a case that’s been delayed, if you want to know about how the process works and are thinking about getting started with suing Immigration Service yourself in federal court, make sure to give us a call at 314-961-8200. You can email us at info@HackingLawPractice.com.

We hope you like this video. If you did, make sure that you leave us a comment or review, and then make sure that you subscribe to our YouTube channel or join our Facebook group, so that we can keep you posted as to any new videos that we submit.

Thanks a lot. Have a great day.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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After 2 Year Wait, Man Becomes Citizen Following Our Lawsuit

This is our client, Dr. Adeel. He lives in Alabama. He is a physician who has spent years serving our wounded and elderly military at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Birmingham.

Dr. Adeel became a lawful permanent resident in November of 2010. He waited four years and nine months and applied for naturalization with USCIS in September of 2010 (LPRs can apply 3 months early to become a citizen).

He was fingerprinted and then nothing happened on his case. The doctor waited months and months for an interview. USCIS refused to schedule him for an interview. The VA hospital tried to intervene on his behalf, but USCIS ignored them. The agency also ignored congressional liaisons who reached out to USCIS on Dr. Adeel‘s behalf. Nothing worked.

Dr. Adeel contacted us in early June of 2016 and asked for our help. We suspected that USCIS was unlawfully delaying his case because of his religion (Islam) and his ethnicity (Pakistan). We filed suit in the Northern District of Georgia on his behalf, challenging the unlawful delay.

The lawsuit challenged the so-called Controlled Application Review & Resolution Program, a formerly-secret government program designed to slow down immigration by Muslims to the United States.  We sought a judicial declaration that the CARRP program was illegal and an order to compel USCIS to decide Dr. Adeel’s case.

The government’s answer to the lawsuit was due on August 8, 2016. On July 28th, the agency notified us that they wanted to interview Dr. Adeel on August 2nd in Atlanta.

We informed Dr. Adeel who was very happy. He passed his civics test and was approved for naturalization. In fact, USCIS naturalized him on the spot. This after a wait approaching nearly 2 years!

A little over two months after he hired our office, he was a citizen.

Not every case works out like this one. However, we were certainly happy to bring his case to a positive resolution.

Congratulations to our newest citizen client, Dr. Adeel!

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When should I take worrying about whether my naturalization case is taking too long to be decided by USCIS?

Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States out of our office here in St. Louis, Missouri. We represent a lot of naturalization clients. We also get a lot of calls and visit to our website will people wondering “How long is too long for a naturalization case to take to be approved or denied by the Immigration Service? And what should I do if I feel like my case has been talking too long?” That’s a good question. It’s an important question, and a lot of people get really anxious when they file for naturalization. When they want to get their citizenship, especially in an election years.

 

Typically what happens when you file for naturalization is you get a biometrics appointment about 2 weeks after your case has been received, and then they do a background check. Eventually, you get set for an interview. Most interviews are taking about 5 or 6 months to get scheduled. Then, when you have your interview, the Immigration Service should not take that long to decide your case. The law says that if 120 days have gone by since the date of your interview, and you’ve not had a decision, then you have certain rights that kick in. The Immigration Service is keenly aware of this. They used to schedule interviews as a matter of course. I think the timing of it was set from the date of filing, or else from the date of the biometrics, the fingerprinting. Now, they often wait to schedule the interview until the background check is done, until the FBI name check is done, and they’ve run you through all of their criminal records checks.

 

We have been seeing more and more of a delay on the scheduling of the interview. The reason for that is that the interview starts a clock, a 4 month clock, a 120 day clock that says that if you’ve not received a decision in 120 days then you have the right to go into federal court and ask a judge to naturalize you. The judge can decide on his or her own whether or not you deserve to be a citizen, whether you’re a person of good moral character. They can direct the Immigration Service to naturalize you, or they can send the case back to the Immigration Service with an order that they decided within a certain amount of time. The Immigration Service is keenly aware of this 120 day deadline.

 

Once you’ve had that interview, and if you’ve experienced a delay of more than 4 months, that’s when you should start worrying. A lot of people when they have their interview will get a letter that says, “Congratulations. You’ve been approved,” or it will say that a decision cannot yet be made about your application. A lot of the visitors to our websites get really freaked out about this, and I understand why. Really, you shouldn’t because in most situations these days, you’re not going to go an outright approval at the interview in most situations. Often times, you’re going to get that letter than says basically, “I have to give it to a supervisor to have them sign off on it.”

 

In our mind, if 6 or 8 weeks have passed since the interview, then you might start worrying, but it’s really at that 120 day mark that you really want to start thinking about what your options are. We recommend that you not wait too terribly long in most cases after the 120 days. If you want to, you can file an action in federal court, and you can ask the judge to naturalize you. The Immigration Service doesn’t necessarily like having a federal judge look over their shoulder. Filing a lawsuit generally makes them move quicker. They know that the law says that the case is sort of out of their hands once the lawsuit’s been filed.

 

We really encourage you that if you’ve had your interview, don’t stress out too much if you don’t get a decision right away. Don’t stress out if it’s been a month of 2. Often times it depends on the naturalization ceremony schedule. They’re trying to figure out when they can get a group of people together to naturalize, and it might not be attributed to your case at all.

 

If you’ve been waiting 4, 5, or 6 months and if you had a strange vibe at your interview, then you might really want to think about suing them and filing that action in federal court. This is something that we do in our office all the time. We have a tremendous amount of experience with it. I even recently spoke to a group of about 100 immigration attorneys out in Las Vegas about it. It’s something that we’re very well equipped to handle, that we do a lot of. Don’t let that 120 days pass without exploring all of your options. If you want to know about this or if you have questions about it, feel free to give us a call at 314-961-8200, or you can e-mail me at jim@hackinglawpractice.com. If you liked this video, please be sure to subscribe on our YouTube channel, and keep an eye out for future videos.

 

Thanks, and have a great day.

The great Writ of Mandamus and how it can help speed up your immigration case.

What is a writ of mandamus and how can it help expedite my immigration case. Hi. I’m Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law around the United States out of our office here in St. Louis, Missouri. Plenty of immigrants come to our office, call us, phone us, visit us on the web, and they’re complaining about delays at the immigration service or delays at the State Department in getting a visa approved and they’re really at their wits end. They don’t know what else to do.

These very good people have called the 1-800 number at USCIS, they’ve made infopass appointments, they’ve gone down to the immigration service to ask and complain, they’ve documented all of their efforts to try to get relief at immigration or with the State Department, they’ve called their senator, they’ve called the CIS Ombudsman, they’ve called the main office. They’ve gone up the chain of command and they just can’t get any relief. At this point, they’re completely frustrated. Some people wait for benefits like citizenship or green card or visa approval for years and years. The immigration service or the State Department basically tell people just to wait.

This brings in the writ of mandamus. It’s a very old phrase. It’s basically a legal mechanism that allows you to go into federal court and to ask a federal judge to make the immigration service, or the State Department, decide your case. Obviously the State Department and USCIS have discretion and whether or not to give somebody an immigration benefit. That means they can either approve or deny a case. That part’s clear. What the writ of mandamus does is it makes them actually decide the case. It’s not a guarantee that your case is going to be approved but what happens is that the federal judge looks at the case and asks why is it taking so long. If all the lawsuit seeks to do is to obtain action on behalf of the federal agency that has the case, then the court has jurisdiction to compel action on behalf those agencies.

It’s not a nice way of doing things. It’s not necessarily the easiest thing to do but in our experience it’s the only thing that gets the immigration service or the State Department to pay attention to a case. I’m sure if you’re watching this video, you’ve been experiencing delays yourself. You’ve heard a little bit about this writ of mandamus so we wanted to shoot this video to try and break it down for you.

Basically what we do is we draft a complaint and we file it federal court. After that, the government has 60 days to respond. In many of the cases, we get movement within those 60 days. Things start happening. Interviews get scheduled. Requests for evidence get sent so they can update their records and you can sort of find out what the problem is. In some instances, after the law suit it filed, you get called in for another interview or your first interview. Basically, the government has to respond within 60 days to that lawsuit. In most cases, they try to moot out the case and they do that by deciding the case. It costs extra money. It’s not fun. It’s not fair that you have to do this but in our experience, it’s the only thing that works.

We thought when we started filing these lawsuits that the immigration service would take it personally and would be upset that we sued. In fact, we found that really they sort of understand the process. They understand what’s going on and it really is that scrutiny from a federal judge that makes them work to decide the case. In some instances, the government does decide to fight and they do that sort of on a case by case basis but we can probably count on one hand the number of instances where they actually did go ahead and fight. In the vast majority of cases, they decide to work on the case and to reach a conclusion either right before the 60 days are up or shortly thereafter. They can ask for a continuance which we’re happy to provide if that means that they’re going to finally decide the case.

These lawsuits work in certain kinds of cases. They work in naturalization delays, green cards delays, and we’ve even had success suing the State Department over people’s spouse-base visas overseas. In our research, we’ve come across all kinds of cases where this has actually worked. A lot of it depends on which judge you get. Some judges are receptive to the plight of the aggrieved immigrant. Other judges bend over backwards to try to help the immigration service and to give them as much latitude in deciding the case as they can. There is certainly an element of luck to it. We no means guarantee that the case is going to be approved but we have filed lawsuits like this on behalf of 70 or 80 people so far and our clients have been very happy with the results.

I was a litigator before I practiced immigration law. I feel comfortable in the courtroom and drafting lawsuits and dragging the immigration service into court so we can bring into the light what’s been delayed, what’s been hassled about, and what we’ve been frustrated with is actually a really good way to use my legal skills and to help people at the same time. If you have experienced delays at the immigration service and you’re thinking about filing a writ of mandamus, if you have questions about how this works, about how the Administrative Procedures Act requires the government to decide things in a reasonable amount of time, these are the kinds of things that we talk about. These are the kinds of things that we put into the lawsuit. If you have questions about that, feel free to give us a call at 314-961-8200 or you can email us at jim@hackinglawpractice.com.

 

Lawsuit Helps Man Get Naturalized After Three Years of Waiting

This spring, our office was hired by a young man from Bangladesh.  The man was living in Chicago, working for a Fortune 500 company.  Despite his corporate success, his naturalization case was being delayed by USCIS.  The man had waited over three years to swear his allegiance to the U.S., but he could not get any answers from USCIS.

The man hired our firm to file a lawsuit in federal court in the Northern District of Illinois.  We sued the director of USCIS, the head of the Chicago field office and the Attorney General of the United States.  The lawsuit was a “mandamus” action and sought a judicial order compelling the agency to decide our client’s long-pending case.

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The case had apparently been delayed due to military service that the man had performed back home in Bangladesh.  After we had the defendants served with a copy of the lawsuit, USCIS in Chicago quickly scheduled him for a re-interview to discuss the military issue.

We are happy to report that late last week, our client became a naturalized U.S. citizen.  After waiting more than three years and many efforts to get action his case, the lawsuit we filed for him did, in fact, compel the agency to finally decide the case.

Lawsuit Nets Client Quickly Approved Naturalization

We have a client.  He is Muslim.  He is from India.  He applied for citizenship on August 20, 2012.  He was fingerprinted, but USCIS never scheduled him for an interview.

So he waited.  And waited.  And waited.

He visited USCIS from time to time and they told him that they were waiting for the results of his background check.  He called the USCIS 1-800 number.  And he waited some more.

On August 12, 2015, he hired us to sue USCIS to compel them to act on his case.  We filed suit that same day.  We brought USCIS a copy of the lawsuit the next day.  USCIS finally interviewed our Muslim Indian client on August 25, 2015.  He was approved on the spot.

So this kind man went from waiting for three years for USCIS to decide his case to an approved naturalization applicant.  In less than two weeks after hiring us.  Certainly, every lawsuit case does not resolve this quickly, but it is amazing what happens when USCIS gets called out in federal court for their delays.

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Immigration Judge criticized for not ruling on long-delayed deportation and asylum cases

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A Houston immigration judge, Judge Mimi Yam, has reportedly failed to do her part to reduce the overcrowded immigration court docket by going a total of 24 months in the last five years without issuing a single ruling.  She has decided only a small fraction of the cases as her fellow judges.  

Like most deportation courts, Houston has faced a record number of pending cases in 2015.  There are currently 31,000 pending cases at that city’s Executive Office for Immigration Review.  Judge Richard Walton decided 700 cases through May of this year, while Yam has decided only 15 in that same span of time.

An attorney that represents Judge Yam, claims that she was placed on leave for whistle-blowing.  Jason Zuckerman, a Washington, D.C. attorney, said in a statement, “The Executive Office of Immigration Review has retaliated against Judge Yam in violation of the Whistleblower Protection Act.  The EOIR should reinstate Judge Yam immediately.”

The head of the National Association of Immigration Judges, Hon. Dana Leigh Marks, explained that 233 immigration judges are hearing cases full time.  That means that each judge could be handling an average of 2,000 cases.  For comparison, federal district court judges handle about 440 at a given time.

Due to President Obama’s prioritizing of certain cases, many cases are being pushed back to be heard during or after 2019.  The average delay in Houston is roughly 673 days.  

Between July 2014 and May 2015, Yam decided only 293 cases.  In October, she decided zero cases, while in September she decided 122.  Judge Walton decided more than 1,400 cases and two other judges (Brisack and Yates) decided over 1,000 cases.  

Houston immigration attorney’s explain that even straightforward cases would remain stagnant in Yam’s court.  The long delays are said to correlate with her long absences and unstable docket.  

Delays in immigration courts can leave immigrants in peril.  This delay also allows immigrants to stay for years when they perhaps should’ve been sent home quickly.  

One case involved an Ethiopian woman that sought asylum because she could face death for losing her virginity outside of marriage.  She is quoted as saying, “”They would have had to harm me to keep their access to heaven,” in reference to her family’s interpretation of Islam.  She has been waiting for asylum since 2013.  Before her case could be heard in Yam’s court, the hearing was postponed to 2019.

 

 

USCIS Asylum Office Issues Scheduling Bulletin

For the first time, the asylum office of USCIS has issued a scheduling bulletin.  The bulletin provides insight into the timing and delays associated with the processing of affirmative asylum cases by the US Citizenship and Immigration Service.

The asylum division of USCIS has prioritized the processing of cases and now proceeds in the following manner:

  1. Applications that were scheduled for interview and then rescheduled due to either the applicant’s request or the request of USCIS;
  2. Applications involving minor children; and,
  3. First come, first-served, i.e., in the chronological order in which they were received.

In the bulletin, USCIS also provides data on which cases are currently being processed.  This is a good step towards greater accountability from the asylum office.  One of the biggest complaints that we receive from our clients is that asylum interviews take a very long time and that USCIS does a poor job of communicating regarding the delays.

USCIS promises to update the asylum scheduling bulletin every month.  It reveals that these cases are taking a very long time to be scheduled for interview.  For instance, the Chicago Asylum office is currently scheduling interviews for applications filed in May of 2013, more than 2 years ago.  And cases are rarely decided on the date of the interview.  We have cases in which the interview occurred in early 2014 that still have not been decided.

This is a good first step towards greater transparency, but something must be done to speed up these cases.  USCIS has been hiring additional officers, but the delays continue.

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