Tag: USCIS

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.

How Immigration Interviews Are Like A Concert

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

Does Mandamus Only Work in Delayed Citizenship Cases?

Do mandamus lost its only work and citizenship cases?

Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States out of our office here in St. Louis Missouri. We’ve had a lot of success in suing the federal government, USCIS, and the Department of Homeland Security when our clients’ naturalization cases have taken too long.

The law says that if you’ve had your naturalization interview and 120 days have gone by, that you can go into federal court and ask a federal judge who doesn’t work for the immigration service to order the immigration service to decide your case, or the judge can decide on his or her own initiative whether or not you get to become a citizen.

The immigration service doesn’t like it when you sue them and they don’t like the idea that a federal judge will take their job from them. When you file a lawsuit, typically what happens in most cases is, they decide to decide the case. The case gets moving and cases that have been waiting for two, three, or four years can finally get resolved. That law, regarding the 120 days, is pretty black letter and the immigration service doesn’t have a lot of wiggle room. One of the tricks they try is they don’t schedule the interview right away.

Sometimes we’re filing lawsuits for naturalization applicants who have never had their interview because that doesn’t start that 120 day clock and that’s why they do it. We have had success in getting those cases moving. They’re not as highly successful as the ones where there’s been an actual interview, but we’ve probably filed suit on behalf of about 70 people who’ve been waiting for citizenship and the lawsuits generally work. They don’t work in every case, but they work in most cases. We wondered whether or not we’d be able to file these kinds of lawsuits and other cases in the immigration context, cases in which the naturalization was not an issue, but rather someone could get a green card.

One day a young man came to see me and he had filed his own mandamus against the immigration service because his green card case had been pending too long. They hadn’t scheduled him for an interview and his case had been pending for two years. He and his wife were getting frustrated that every time they went down to the immigration office that they couldn’t get any answers. He figured out how to draft a lawsuit and filed it on his own in federal court. We don’t recommend this.

Filing a mandamus action is actually pretty tricky, and the government was starting to play games with him, trying to change venue and filing a motion to dismiss and all these things. We wanted to see what would happen and we took this case. It turns out that the lawsuit worked almost the exact same way in the green card context as it did in the citizenship context. Since that time, we’ve probably filed 10 green card delay lawsuits and we’ve had a lot of good success with that.

Then one day a lady came to see me and she was wondering about her husband’s visa case. He was from Pakistan and his case had been pending for two years. We told her that she should sue them. She was sort of skittish and worried about suing them, so she didn’t do it. A year later she came back and now she’d been waiting three years. We told her, “You should sue the state department”. We had done some research and figured out that you could, in fact, sue the state department in federal court in the United States for a delay at an embassy overseas.

She was still skittish and still scared, so she decided not to do it. The fourth year she came back and she said, “Okay Jim, let’s go ahead and sue”. We filed the lawsuit and within 90 days after filing the lawsuit, her husband was in the United States with an approved visa. This was remarkable and it only happened because we filed the lawsuit. Now we know, and we have filed subsequently more lawsuits against the state department for delays in the issuance of a visa.

Last month, we filed a lawsuit over a four year delay on an asylum case. We’re very interested to see how this case works. It’s a lawsuit against a Chicago asylum office where a man has been waiting for four years for his asylum case to be approved. These are the kinds of things that you can do with a mandamus lawsuit. Not every immigration lawyer is familiar with the rules of federal court and filing lawsuits. I had been a litigator for 10 years before I started practicing immigration law, so I feel very comfortable in federal court, in the procedures, and the filing requirements, all those things.

We’re going to file a new lawsuit today over in Ohio. We’re excited about that, for a young man who’s been waiting for citizenship for two and a half years. These lawsuits work. They don’t work every time, but they work in a lot of the situations.

If you’ve been experiencing some kind of immigration delay, make sure to give us a call at 314-961-8200. You can also e-mail us at info@hackinglawpractice.com. We hope you like this video, that you found it instructive.

If you have any questions about it, make sure to reach out to us. Make sure also, please to like this video down below. If you want to subscribe to our Youtube and Facebook channels, that would be great. You’ll get updates whenever we upload a new video.

USCIS backlogs prevent thousands from voting

If only they would follow the rules. This is what many citizens will say of undocumented immigrants, claiming that if they only followed the established immigration process to the letter, they wouldn’t have any issues. This is an understandable assumption, but we see with cases like that of Rudy Zamora, this isn’t always the case. Mr. Zamora, an immigrant from Mexico, is proof that the current immigration process doesn’t always work as it is intended to.

Mr. Zamora has spent his entire life as a bystander in elections rather than a participant and when he was finally able to legally submit his naturalization paperwork, he did. Yet, backlogs in naturalization processing prevented him from voting in the Nevada caucuses, an election that a reasonable person would say he applied in time for.

There are many cases similar to that of Mr. Zamora. In fact, over half a million immigrants who applied for naturalization months ago are still waiting on their answer and are coming to terms with the fact that they most likely won’t hear back before the November election. The significance of this is that despite the fact that the next president will play a huge role in their lives, they do not get a voice in who that person may be. Moreover, whether thousands of immigrants can vote or not will significantly affect the outcome of the election due to the candidates’ drastically different views on immigration.

There has been a swell in state level applications, specifically a 31.2% increase, at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that has led to a backlog that will prevent many from casting their vote.

A spokesperson from the USCIS claims that the agency is on track to meet its goal of processing applications between five and seven months, but he acknowledges that there has been a significant increase in applications across the board. The additional time it may take for particular applications depends on the processing times of specific state offices.

Diving deeper into the fluctuation of naturalization application processing times reveals that it is not uncommon for volume to spike around election time. However, the spike this year is more extreme than in the past because of the particular political climate. While one presidential nominee plans to crack down on immigration, the other nominee aspires to streamline the process and offer a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. With this in mind, it makes sense that this election is especially pertinent to immigrants.

These additional votes that could be cast could have a significant impact in the election, especially in swing states like Florida, which has more than 66,100 applications pending and consistently wavers between blue and red.

Luckily, it does appear that the USCIS is taking steps to expedite processing times through actions such as sending additional staff to offices with backlogs as well as authorizing overtime for these offices.  

The fact of the matter is that this type of backlog should never hinder a person from expressing their opinions through a ballot, yet our country is still in this situation. As the elections creeps closer and closer, more immigrants with pending applications hope and pray they might be able to participate in one of the biggest elections this century has seen.

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Lessons Learned from Back to Back Asylum Interviews

What lessons did you learn attending 2 asylum interviews in 1 day?

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

I’ve had a very interesting day this week. I spent the entire day with an asylum officer and 2 of my asylum clients down at the local immigration office. In St. Louis, we don’t have an asylum office, we operate out of the asylum office in Chicago so periodically the asylum office sends officers down to St. Louis to conduct a week’s worth of interviews.

This was very interesting because while my clients have been waiting for more than 2 years for their interviews, we got about 10 days notice of the interview itself. We sort of had to scramble to get our supplemental materials in to file all that on time, and to make sure that the officer had a copy of all the evidence that we wanted to submit in support’s of our client’s claim that they would face persecution if they were forced to return back home.

We had 1 interview at 8:00 and the other one at 12:30. Our office actually had 3 interviews, but I only conducted 2 of them. We learned a lot that day. We learned a lot, we’re always trying to learn and share that information with you, and with our clients to try to help you get the most beneficial results at the asylum office and to get the information that you need so that you can put together the strongest case possible and do a good job at your interview.

What we learned. One thing we learned is that the officers are very well prepared. They’re very well advised and have knowledge of the situation on the ground. Both of my clients happened to be from Iraq on this particular case so the officer had a tremendous amount of information about Iraq and he did not need us to go into any country conditions or anything. That’s very instructive for you if you’re thinking about or preparing for your asylum interview and that is, you need to cut to the chase. You need to get started, you need to tell the officer exactly why you fear persecution if you return back home. He’s not going to want to hear just about country conditions, or she wants to hear about you. About your experience, about what your fears are, about what threats you’ve had, what incidents you’ve had that make you fear going back because the best example, the best way to show future persecution is by showing past persecution.

The officers don’t want to engage in a bunch of small talk. They dive right in. First, they go over the form, the I-589 and they go over the biographic information and then, in both interviews, the officer started off by saying “Why do fear going back to Iraq?” Then just sort of left it open.

Then he asked about prior incidents of persecution or threats or harm or harassment and they spent a lot of time talking back and forth, my client and the officer about that. This particular officer was also a very sensitive fellow, I really liked him a lot. I thought he did a tremendous job and that he was very fair with my clients.

Another thing that we know already but was re-emphasized by going through the interview is that not every question is designed to trick you, or to punish you, or to weaken your case. Sometimes the officers ask neutral questions and sometimes I think they ask questions that are designed to help the client. To help them remember things, to make sure that the officer gets all the information. This particular officer I thought was a very fair arbiter. A very fair judge. A very fair officer in assessing the evidence. He wasn’t trying to trick anybody, he wasn’t unfair I thought. I thought he was very methodical, very matter of fact, very sensitive, there were times in any asylum case where your client is expressing real fear and I think he was very sensitive to that. I think he’d been very well trained. He’d obviously handled a lot of interviews before and I thought he was very thorough.

You need to be ready. You need to be ready for your interview, you need to be able to tell your story, you need to be able to articulate it. With each of our clients, I think we prepped them each 3 times for a couple hours each time to make sure that they were ready. To make sure that they remembered everything. On the back end, at the end of the interview, I in both cases made a statement. In 1, I made sure that my client was mentioning a few of the incidents that he had neglected to mention and which the officer had not followed up on. I wanted to make sure that the officer had a thorough understanding of the facts of the case. In the other one I did make a brief closing statement and I have to tell you, I was touched by what my client said. I think the officer was touched by what my client said. It was very hard to listen to someone express such base fear of going back home. It’s going to be very dangerous for him if he has to.

We’re very hopeful that they both get asylum here in the United State. We’re feeling good about the cases. Obviously we don’t want to jinx it but we thought our clients did a really good job, that we had put together the strongest case possible, that they did a really good job of articulating their positions and I think the officer was able to assess that these are very credible fears. These are 2 men who really fear bringing their family back from the United States to Iraq and we’re hopeful that the interview went well and that eventually the clients will get approved.

The officer made a point to tell everybody before we even started that there would be no decision today, that we would be conducting the interview and it was just one piece of the puzzle, that there were other supervisors and other people that have to weigh in on the asylum claim and that the interview itself was just one small piece of that.

We hope this video enlightened you as to some of the things you need to think about as you go into the asylum interview. It’s obviously very stressful, very important. It’s almost I think, a holy or a sacred event, it’s very surreal. It’s very unusual, it’s not like any other kind of immigration interview. It’s really where someone’s basically pleading for their life to not have to go back home. I think that really come through to the officer so we’re happy about that.

If you have any questions about asylum, if you’re getting ready for your interview, if you need some help, need some pointers, make sure to give us a call at (314) 961-8200. We’d be happy to represent you, to help you file the strongest asylum application possible or to strengthen your case before you go to interview.

You can also call us at (314) 961-8200. You can email us at jim@hackinglawpractice.com

We hope you like this video. We have a lot of asylum content on the YouTube website and on our regular website so if you have questions make sure to subscribe to our YouTube Channel and if you like this video, please give us a like down below.

Thanks a lot and have a great day.

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.

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.

Man Stripped of Citizenship Because He Lied on His Application

Handcuffs

We tell clients all the time – you have to tell the truth about everything.

Lying to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service is always a bad idea.

This week, a man from North Carolina found that out the hard way after a federal judge stripped him of his citizenship due to his failure to disclose an arrest that occurred while he was in the naturalization process.

Last July, Wilson Rene Cagua-Anzules pleaded guilty to lying to government officials during the naturalization process.

Cagua-Anzules was born in Ecuador in 1982 and entered the U.S. in 1999 as a lawful permanent resident.

He applied for citizenship in June of 2010 by completing an N-400 Application for Naturalization. One question on the form was:

“Have you ever committed a crime or offense for which you were not arrested?”

Mr. Cagua-Anzules answered no to that question during his February 2011 interview with a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officer. Based on the answers that he gave to the officer, he became a U.S. citizen in March of 2012.

As it turns out, Cagua-Anzules had committed the crime of taking indecent liberties with a child in August of 2010. He pleaded guilty to the offense after becoming a citizen.

But the crime had occurred prior to his interview so the answer to the question should have been yes.

The federal government filed an action in federal court to de-naturalize Cagua-Anzules.

“Today, a federal judge stripped the U.S. citizenship of a man who did not deserve such privilege,” U.S. Attorney Jill Rose said in a statement. “Cagua-Anzules violated our immigration laws and compromised the integrity of our naturalization proceedings.”

“But make no mistake that we will prosecute those who try to cheat their way into an American citizenship,” Rose said. “Liars and cheats need not apply.”

The federal judge who stripped the man of citizenship has also ordered him to return to Ecuador, his home country.

USCIS Offers Relief to Immigrants Adversely Affected By Floods and Tornadoes

The U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Service (USCIS) has announced emergency immigration relief for non-citizens who experienced hardship as a result of recent flooding in the Midwest and severe storms in the South.  This relief includes:

  • Change or extension of status for an individual currently in the United States on a temporary, non-immigrant visa.  Such a request can be approved even if it was filed after the authorized period of admission has expired.
  • Re-entry of foreign nationals who had been previously granted parole by USCIS.
  • Expedited processing of requests for advance parole (permission to leave the U.S.)
  • Faster processing for F1 international students looking for off-campus work opportunities due to economic hardship.
  • Expedited adjudication of work authorization applications, where appropriate.
  • Consideration of fee waivers due to an inability to pay.
  • Assistance for those who received a Request for Evidence or a Notice of Intent to Deny but were unable to appear for an interview, submit evidence or respond in a timely manner.
  • Replacement of lost or damaged immigration or travel documents issued by USCIS, such as a Permanent Resident Card (Green Card) or work authorization.
  • Rescheduling of a biometrics/fingerprinting appointment.

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Anyone seeking relief under these temporary protective provisions needs to explain to USCIS how the weather or flooding affected their ability to file timely applications or responses to requests for evidence.  If you have questions about this, feel free to give us a call at (314) 961-8200.