We’re excited to have all of you here, thanks for registering. We’ll try to get to all your questions, we’re going to be on for about an hour. Hopefully we can get some good dialogue going. I guess I’m going to be giving a talk on Sunday at a church here in St Louis about the current state of immigration, and my overall thing to say is that immigration is bad. It’s tough right now, it’s hard.
Everything that used to be easy is now hard, and everything that’s hard is now harder. With that being said, it looks like we’re getting our questions first, more from Facebook. But everybody, leave your questions in the chat. We have not advanced enough to the point where we can let you ask the questions on camera, but that might not be so bad. We’re going to give people a chance to log in, we’ve got 23 people over there. We’re getting some questions from Facebook Live, so why don’t we start there?
Sayed said, “I have a question. I heard right now interview of asylum cases of year 2016 had started. Is that true?”
James Hacking: Yeah. That’s an interesting question. Asylum cases historically have been the oldest cases get interviewed first. But about two years ago, they changed that up, and they started doing last case in, first case out. In other words, they want to start doing interviews quickly on the cases that were just filed, and if you operate from the understanding that they are trying to deny as many asylum cases as possible, and they think that every asylum case is false, and they’re giving them marching orders to deny as much as possible, then their new approach makes sense.
The question about whether they’re getting to 2016 cases, we haven’t been seeing the interviews go out yet, but of the ones from back then that got interviewed, we’re starting to see those cases get decided. We have cases from 2015 and 2016 that haven’t been interviewed yet. I imagine at some point we’re going to start seeing those come through, but so far we haven’t.
Okay. Let’s go to WebinarJam. Faraz said, “My question is if the Islamabad embassy request documents under 221(g), how long is the usual time for review? Also, what is the significance of status on the CEAC?”
Okay, so those are two good questions. Number one, you can’t read too much into the status on CEAC. We are always surprised by what bad information they give you on the CEAC website, so you can’t read too much into it. Really, the only thing that matters is if you have the visa in hand, and everything else above and beyond that has sort of just been from the government. We don’t put too much stock into it, we don’t spend much time thinking about what it says on the CEAC website, so I don’t think you can read too much on that.
If you receive a visa refusal on 221(g) and you’re asked to provide documents, and you then provide those documents, the question is, how much time will it take to process? Again, a lot of those times, those documents are requested solely for the purpose of delay. I’m sure sometimes they ask for them, there’s a real reason that they’re asking for them, but the purpose in asking for the documents is in and of itself, a reason to, or an attempt to cause further delay.
It could be anywhere from one month to five months or six months. There’s no real rhyme or reason to it. I don’t think you can read too much into it, and I don’t think that anybody can give you a fair guess as to when it’s going to be adjudicated.
Okay. Nafeesa said her husband had his interview on January 4th, 2019, and they’re still waiting. The case was sent back to USCIS with still no NOID. What should she do?
Yeah. We’ve been seeing a little bit more of this lately. In fact, I just had a consult at 4:30 with someone who went through this. Generally, if you file an application for a spouse, you do that by filing an I-130. Or for fiancees, it’s an I-129F. Typically it takes USCIS right now about six or seven months to approve that case. After the case is approved, it gets sent to the National Visa Center to begin your visa processing. That’s where you pay your visa fees, your affidavit support fees, and you submit a bunch of evidence to the State Department at the National Visa Center.
After the case goes through the National Visa Center, it then goes to the embassy for interview. The embassy can refuse the visa, they can deny the visa for certain grounds, or they sometimes send the case back to USCIS for a possible revocation. When they do that, they have to give you what’s called the notice of intent to revoke, or it could be notice of intent to deny. In other words, they’re supposed to give you a reason as to why they think the prior grant, the prior approval of the I-130 should be reconsidered or revoked.
Obviously if your case went through interview, and it’s been sent back for possible revocation, you want that to happen as soon as possible. Now, in this scenario based on the question, the interview was over a year ago and they still haven’t sent the case back. I think one thing to try to find out for sure is where is my case pending? And then if it’s back with USCIS, I think you want to put pressure on them to issue the notice of intent to revoke so you get that chance to respond.
Now, interestingly, we come across a fair number of cases where notice of intent to revoke is issued. A response is provided and then USCIS decides to uphold the I-130 and they send it back to the embassy. To me, this is very strange. If I were running the government or if … I’m surprised that USCIS doesn’t pick up on the clues or the reasons from the State Department, or doesn’t just rubber stamp the revocation after the State Department pushes it back.
But it does seem like USCIS is giving a good faith review of the notice of intent to revoke, they’re giving people an opportunity to reply. In answer to your question, I think that if they’re not issuing the notice of intent to revoke, that’s obviously a bad thing, and it’s also part of the delay. What you need to do is figure out a way, perhaps by suing, perhaps by contacting USCIS, perhaps by just tracking down the case and trying to get someone in congress to help you, but you’re stuck in limbo because you’re not even getting a decision based on the sending it back from the embassy.
You’ve got a long way to go, so you want to get that case back to USCIS, and you want that notice of intent to revoke to be issued as soon as possible, so you can reply and hopefully get the case sent back to the embassy. This is a case where a lawsuit might help, but you’re already up against it because it seems that at least at the embassy, they don’t want to give your spouse a visa. That always has to come into play when you’re thinking about suing or not. Do I want to spend money to just make them give me an overall denial over time, faster, if that makes sense?
Layla wants to know if the health insurance requirement is still in effect. Do they still ask about it at the embassy? Her son is 19 and all of her documents have been sent to the NVC, except the health insurance.
In our office, I haven’t heard of anybody actually being asked or denied about the insurance mandate, but that’s still in place. I think that’s something that … Actually, no, the insurance mandate is under suit. The insurance mandate, a lawsuit was filed in Oregon to challenge the implementation of that health insurance mandate. That particular part of the immigration process is still not in effect.
Okay. Sorry. Neil said that he was registered to vote but he never voted. He removed his name from the registration, will it be a problem for filing the N-400?
Yes. Neil, you should talk to a lawyer before you file that N-400. You’re going to need to talk that through with them and to get all the documentation related to the circumstances of your registration. You’re going to want to get all the proof as to your notification of them, that you registered in error. You’re going to want to establish that you never voted so you’re going to need to get evidence from your secretary of state or whoever runs elections in your county or your state, that you never voted.
This is a big deal and you’ve got to handle it very carefully, because registering to vote or false claims of citizenship are deportable offenses and something that can get you into big, big trouble.
Andrea said, “Can you cover BIA? Is it merely a rubber stamp or a real way to have your case overturned?”
Yeah, that’s a good question. The Board of Immigration Appeals. The Board of Immigration Appeals is the agency that’s supposed to handle appeals. If you’ve been order removed, you’re going to the Board of Immigration Appeals. There are other cases that can go to the Administrative Appeals Office, and certainly right now the Trump administration is pressuring the BIA to rule against immigrants.
The BIA is just part of the Executive Office for Immigration Review. They’re the agency that’s supposed to review denials, and certainly there are good lawyers who are winning cases at the Board Of Immigration Appeals, but right now the BIA is extremely hostile to immigrants. They get their marching orders directly from the attorney general, so I wouldn’t say it’s a complete rubber stamp, but it’s a pretty darn close rubber stamp.
A lot of times we would caution against filing a BIA appeal unless you have a real clean issue on appeal. You always have another chance after that, at the circuit court for your jurisdiction, where you live, but when you get to that point, you’re in pretty bad shape and the odds are stacked against you. The other strange thing about the Board Of Immigration Appeals is that the attorney general has the power to substitute his judgment for the BIA.
It’s an agency that really doesn’t have a lot of teeth to it. They don’t have a lot of authority. They’re basically just doing exactly what the government tells them to do, or what the administration tells them to do, what the attorney general tells them to do. There’s not a lot of independence. And that’s true of any immigration judge, and especially at the BIA. A lot of these people are career immigration prosecutors who’ve been promoted to immigration judge, so they get promoted to the Board Of Immigration Appeals. And in a lot of ways, they are in fact just rubber stamping for the denials.
Narass asked, “When should somebody apply for the CR-1? On the first visit, or second?”
The CR-1 is a conditional resident, that’s a marriage based case. It’s hard to say. But generally I think that the more evidence that you can submit in proof of the relationship, the better. I think that if a US citizen comes to the foreign country, and gets married on that initial trip, I think by definition that case is not as strong as if the foreign national comes to the United States, meets someone … Comes from the United States to the home country, meets someone, goes back home, continues the relationship online, goes back and visits again, comes back and goes back to work, and then goes back a third time and gets married.
I think it’s sort of just common sense that the more evidence, the more time you can show that the couple has spent together, the more likely it is that the visa’s going to be approved.
they are a permanent resident and married to a US citizen. The three year anniversary is mid June. She knows that she can apply for naturalization 90 days prior to the anniversary date. If she traveled outside of the US a couple of times, and each vacation was around three weeks, should she factor that into the 90 days? Or, is it just 90 days?
Now, generally I like people to just wait the full three years, but if you’re in a hurry, those days, as long as it’s a trip of less than six months, and as long as it’s a trip that’s just a few weeks, that shouldn’t impact it. I have seen them play some tricks with that two years, nine months. So generally for the viewers, if you’re married to a US citizen, you can apply for citizenship after having your green card for three years. The law allows you to apply 90 days early, so the question is can I apply 90 days early if I have had some vacations? I think the better thing to do would be to wait, but there’s certainly no rule that says you have to. I just don’t want to give them reasons to say no, I don’t want to give them reasons to cause us trouble. If you can afford to wait, at least wait for as long as the total amount of your vacation days, but generally it should not be a problem. I’m probably just being overly cautious.
Zakari said in 2018, they had their K-1 interview in Casablanca. The interviewing officer denied it and they got married seven months later, and now they’re at the NVC stage. His wife suggests to attend the interview with him, which he decided later was not a good idea. If we get administrative process, when is the right time to sue them? If refused, and case sent to USCIS, when is time to sue?
All right. First of all, everybody on here should know, if you’re familiar with our lawsuits, that we have sued the embassy in Casablanca, Morocco More than we sued all the other embassies combined. So, there’s a real problem with that embassy. We’ve sued them over 65 times for delays, so the questions are well taken. I can see how you would have gone from a fiancee case to a spouse case. That part I get. Now, what were the questions, the first question?
Oh, I know. About attending the interview. All right. I already made a YouTube video about this. We’ll try to put a link in it later, but there’s no good reason for a US citizen to go to the interview. In fact, I’m about ready to start telling people if you’re the US citizen, and your spouse’s case is pending, don’t go visit them in the home country, because if you do, they’re going to call you in for an interview, and then they’re going to separate you.
And let me tell you a little something. I used to coach my kids’ baseball. When you’re playing baseball, you’re either at bat, trying to score runs, or you’re in the field, playing defense. I would always say that when my kids were out on the field playing defense, nothing good happens. This can be true in soccer, whenever you’re on offense or defense, basketball, whatever, any sport, it doesn’t matter.
But when you’re on defense, nothing good can happen. Nothing good can happen from having a US citizen attend an interview at the embassy. I can’t tell you in the last six months, I’ve never heard of this as a phenomenon, but in the last six months, I’ve had four or five cases where the US citizen, frustrated with the delay that their spouse is experiencing, goes over to see them and then the spouse gets called in for an interview, the foreign spouse, and they tell the officer, “Hey, you wouldn’t believe it, but my wife McKenzie is here. Would you like to talk to her?”
And then they bring McKenzie in, and they put you in two separate rooms and they grill you, and then they beat you up with the ways that you failed to answer the questions correctly. Don’t do this. Whoever said that doing this would be a bad idea, they were right. That part of it, don’t do it if you can avoid it. In fact, I hate to say it, I’d almost recommend not even going to the country where the embassy is until the visa is issued. I’d sue them first and try to get them moving on that without having you be interviewed, because just like with baseball, nothing good is going to happen if a US citizen is there answering cases incorrectly.
All right, and so then, as far as all the other hypotheticals in there, I mean, you’ve just got to take each case as it comes. I always take the position, if the I-130 priority date, if more than a year has gone by, or a year and two months, you’re totally fine to see. You can sue for the notice of intent to revoke to try to get them to decide that faster. Filing a lawsuit is a case by case basis and it depends on how long the case has been pending.
Christina wants to know what the St Louis USCIS office is like compared to other USCIS offices around the country.
Someone’s trying to get me in trouble. All right. So, I will try to be as diplomatic as I can. One day I was in Denver and my client and I had filed an appeal of a denied N-400, and I got really mad, and I shot this video outside the Denver field office. I basically went off on them. I’ve been trying since then to not lose my temper, and to be a little bit more evenhanded in the way that I assess immigration offices.
But that being said, the one cool thing about immigration is that it’s federal. I’ve had the opportunity, I’ve probably had interviews in 25 or 30 immigration offices, if I sat down and counted them. Maybe I should do that sometime. Anyway, I would say this. In the old days, the St Louis immigration office was really, really bad. Really bad. There was a guy there running the show who I really think had it out for immigrants and would play all these tricks and do all these sleazy things.
They got in trouble down there for calling in someone without their lawyer on purpose, and they left the recording on so it was proven that they did it on purpose, and there was just all this sort of shady stuff. That guy retired and the people that are in there now, there’s actually a lawyer that works there now and she’s really smart. They have a couple of supervisors, one of whom’s very good. The newer officers seem like straight shooters.
Here’s what I would say about the St Louis office. They’re pretty much like the other ones, but the one thing that they love, especially on marriage cases, is if the people don’t have a lawyer. They’re not afraid to cause mischief, and what I mean by that, mischief. Mischief is when they try to get away with things that they wouldn’t get away with if there was a lawyer there who knows what they’re doing.
I even took a deposition once, I was the one using the St Louis immigration office for a naturalization delay, and I got to ask questions of an officer who’s been there since 1982. She’s actually one of my favorite officers down there, but she and I have had battles and she and my wife fight all the time. She’s great, but she’s tough. She said that they bluff. They’ll bluff, and bluff means that they’ll act like they have information, or they might try to scare people.
The one thing I would say about the St Louis office is it has improved, but you should not go there without a lawyer. I don’t say that so that you hire me, I just say that honestly, I think that they like to cause mischief if there’s not a lawyer there.
Sarab says that she received a 10 year green card instead of the conditional green card when she’s been married less than a year. What should she do?
Oh. This is a problem. Actually, a problem we had in our office. Here’s the scenario for those of you playing along at home. If you marry a US citizen, and you apply for a green card, and you’ve been married less than two years, then you’re given what’s called a conditional green card. You’re given a two year green card. At the end of those two years, you need to file an I-751. The purpose of the I-751 is to get the conditions removed on your green card.
That is to take you from a two year conditional green card, to a 10 year, I call it permanent, permanent green card, right? When you do that, then you get the 10 year green card. In this scenario, Sarab is wondering, “Well, they sent me the wrong green card. I was married less than two years, but they sent me the 10 year green card,” right?
In that scenario, I hate to say it, but what I would do is I would make a good copy of the green card and I would file an I-90 replacement. I would say, “You guys made a mistake. You gave me a 10 year green card when you should have given me a two year green card.” You might be saying to yourself, “That’s crazy, I’m not giving up this 10 year green card. I got this 10 year green card and I’m really happy that I got it.”
Well, you might be happy now, but you won’t be happy later. Do you want to know why? Here’s why. Let’s fast forward. You have this 10 year green card and you think you’re clever, and that you didn’t have to file that 751, but now it’s time to apply for citizenship. We actually had this exact scenario happen in our office. You go to your naturalization interview. Well, they’re going to say, “Hey, I’m looking at the date of your marriage and I’m looking at the date you’re applying for citizenship, and you have your three years in, but you never got that 751. You never got the conditions removed” and then you say, “Ha ha ha, I have a 10 year green card. I didn’t need to.”
Well, you know what they say then? Then they say, “That’s your fault,” not their fault. Even though it was their mistake, they’re going to blame you for not getting the conditions removed, because you are then not eligible to apply for citizenship, and technically you’re subject to being put in removal because you didn’t file the 751. My answer is, if that’s happened, you’re going to need to file an I-90. You shouldn’t have to pay a filing fee or anything, and don’t send them the green card right out of the box.
But what you want to do is send them a copy of the green card, explain to them in a cover letter what the mistake was, and fill out the I-90 and send that in, and keep proof of service so that you can prove to them that you let them know that you notified them of the erroneous awarding of a 10 year green card.
Kahn would like you to talk about the four year and one day rule.
Ah, the four year and one day rule. Kahn was chatting with me earlier today and I told Kahn that I would shoot a video about this. But we’ll talk about it right here. All right. Yes, Nafeesa you should sue if you’ve been waiting one year and two months. Shout out on Facebook. Anyway, getting back to our question. The four year and one day rule, all right. If you have a green card, and if you stay out of the United States for more than six months, and you want to re-establish your residency for purposes of applying for naturalization, you need to wait four years and one day from the date of your admission.
Now, what do I mean by that? Okay. When you get a green card, there are two things to keep in mind. One is how do I keep my green card? How do I make sure I don’t lose it? The other one is, how do I put myself in a position to apply for citizenship? What does that mean? Well, in order to apply for citizenship, you have to show that in the last three years or five years, depending on if you’re applying based on marriage or not, that you spent half the time in the United States and that you haven’t had any trips outside the United States of more than six months.
Because if you have a trip of more than six months, you are presumed to have abandoned your residency for purposes of naturalization. If you want to be overly cautious, the best thing to do is to wait four years and one day from the day you come back from that extra-long trip. That’s how it works, Kahn. You need to wait until the … Let’s say you’re gone for eight months, and you’ve had your green card for five years.
The bad thing is that eight months probably is going to break the time that you already had here. You need to start over. Basically, what it says is if you wait four years and one day, then they can’t hit you over the head for abandoning your residency when you want to apply for citizenship. That’s that.
“Hi Jim. My question, I sent the RFE for my daughter and did DNA testing. The results show she is my daughter. They got the result October 2nd. They haven’t responded on the RFE.” Since you said it was an RFE, I’m suspecting that you’re still at USCIS.
I mean, that’s not that long. But if your case is pending for like more than a year, you might think about suing them, because October 2nd, that’s five months ago since you filed the RFE response. You need to get their attention. You either need to call over there and see what’s going on with the request for evidence that you supplied. Oh no, Matthew Archenbow’s in here and he’s causing trouble.
We should have Matthew on with us. He’s a fantastic immigration and deportation lawyer out of Philadelphia, even though he’s causing mischief in my Facebook group. I don’t know why I ever let him in here, but he’s a good guy. If you need a lawyer in Philly, Matthew’s your guy. I’ve sent him a couple citizenship cases and deportation cases and he does a good job, and he’s sent me a Philadelphia Eagles hat, which I like.
All right. Getting back to our next private question. I’ll see if there’s any others but I didn’t know that people could even do this.
Do you think buying Canadian marijuana stock through the USA market exchange, which is publicly traded on US market, can leave you to fail on good moral character for naturalization?
Well, that’s a good question. No, I don’t think so. I don’t think buying … I mean, as of now, they’re not asking you what stocks you buy. I think that question’s going to be okay. I don’t think you need to worry about that so much.
At first, when I saw the question, I thought it was like, “Do you think buying marijuana in Canada and bringing it to the United States will get you in trouble?” But no, when you’re talking about buying something legal on the US Stock Exchange, I don’t think you need to worry about that. All right.
Jessica said that she was waiting for her interview for the N-400 and was arrested in 2016 for prostitution. “The case was dismissed. By having to complete a course, I have then and even now always have been working.” What affidavit should she have ready, or how does she go about proving her good moral character?
All right. First of all, if you get arrested in 2016 and you want to apply for citizenship, my suggestion would be that even though it was dismissed, and being that it is now 2020, I would wait until 2021 to go ahead and apply for citizenship. That way, you’re going to take away that arrest as within the statutory period. Because my greatest job, my most important job as an immigration lawyer, is to reach in and take away reasons for them to say no.
Anytime I can take away reasons to say no, I do it. Today I was talking to a guy and he had a complicated issue and I was like, “Brother, you should dismiss that case and refile” because if he dismisses that case and refiles, then it’s going to get that negative stuff off the analysis, the actual legal analysis. That would be my same recommendation here. I would wait the full five years. You’re only a year away.
In the meantime, to establish good moral character, some things you might think about would be like volunteering at a church, or a shelter, and don’t do it all showy and don’t go in there saying, “I’m going to need a letter a year from now.” Go in there and make friends, do some good work, do some volunteer work. Volunteer at a hospital, do whatever you can to help people, and actually help people, and then once you help them, when the time comes a year from now for you to apply for a naturalization, because you’re going to wait, like I said, then I believe you’re going to be in much better shape to show good moral character.
You’re going to be able to point to the fact that you did all this good work and you’re going to have letters from people and so any kind of stink about a prostitution charge from five years ago that was ultimately dropped, that’s going to be way minimized, and you’re going to be in a much better position.
Jim Shade says, “Can someone get divorced after a 10 year green card? Will there be any problem with naturalization?”
Good question, Jim Shade. Good question. It’s funny. I know a lot of people are worried right now, and nervous because of the Trump administration and all the fast paced changes that we’re seeing in immigration and I totally get that. Today I had a consult with a Canadian fellow. He and his wife have been married 25 years, they’ve had their green cards for 10 years. They want to apply for citizenship but they’re about to get divorced, and they were wondering, they got their green cards through his job and they’re wondering if they get divorced, will that impact her ability to get a green card, or to get citizenship.
I totally get the level of nervousness, but I think we all need to take a deep breath, breathe out. And so on something like this, the question, everyone needs to be very precise with their questions and with their thoughts. When it comes to immigration, I think it’s important to keep in mind that you always have to file a smart case. You always have to do your best. You always have to try your best to win the case. With a divorce, the question is going to be like the timing. So, you always have to look at when did the couple get married? When did they file the I-130 for the green card?
When did they get the green card? Did they get the conditions removed? Sounds like they did. They have the 10 year green card. You don’t want to just run away and get divorced right away. You need to have a thoughtful analysis that’s sort of hard for me to say in the hypothetical. Yeah, you can get your citizenship if you have a 10 year green card, or no, you’re never going to get it. You need to think through and probably maybe talk to me or somebody else about when to do it. Like, when to file.
Remember, if you have the 10 year green card, and you get divorced though, you’re going to have to wait the full five years. You can’t file under the three year rule. You’re going to have to wait the full five years. Depending on the timing and the circumstances, all divorces are not created equal. Sometimes the divorce is because the US citizen cheated on the foreign national, or vice versa, or they got in a fight, or things didn’t work out.
Green cards, divorce, and citizenship, I could teach a whole class on that. I could write a whole book on that. Just keep in mind that you need to be very conscious about the timing of everything.
Erman asks if asylees have to go to green card interviews?
These days for sure. Everybody’s getting interviewed for a green card. That’s a good question. That’s one we should do a video on. I guess we can get the questions from these videos for later, right?
Okay, so in the old days, a lot of green cards were issued without there being an actual interview or interrogation. The Trump administration was frustrated by that, and they’re finding ways to go back and interview people who never got interviewed. Now, in order to get asylum, you have an interview. But the asylum office is separate. It used to be on a separate computer system and that information was kept separate and a lot of USCIS officers didn’t really treat that as a real interview.
A lot of times if you apply for a green card now, that’s really the first time USCIS outside of the asylum office, has had a chance to interrogate you. Yeah, in the old days you wouldn’t have green card interviews for employment green cards or for some asylum interviews, asylum grants. If you receive asylum, a year after that you can apply for a green card and in the old days you would just get the green card in the mail eventually, but now they’re requiring interviews for all those.
Rah asks, “What happens if the conditional green card expires and you haven’t filed to get conditions removed?”
Another good question. Boy, I’m glad we’re doing this. We’re getting lots of good questions and I’m going to have a lot of good videos to shoot about this. All right. So, the question is what happens if I forget to file my I-751? Well, lots of different things can happen. Number one is you can be put into removal. Number two is they can forget about it. Number three is, you can file late.
Basically this is an important thing and you need to pay attention to it, so don’t miss the deadline. But we’ve had cases where people have missed it by two years, and eight years. We once had a guy who didn’t file his I-751, he filed it eight years late. Now, he was Canadian and he never left the United States. His case got approved.
You might have to do it in court. Or you might get put into removal proceedings, and then you still have to file with USCIS. The long and the short answer is file the I-751 as soon as you realize your mistake. It might just be forgiven, it might not be, but either way, you’re going to need to file it with USCIS, because even if you get put into removal, USCIS will adjudicate the 751, so you want to file the strongest and fastest case that you can, once you’ve realized you missed the deadline.
Just so everyone knows, the deadline is if you get the conditional green card, one year, nine months later is the first day that you can file, and then right before the two year anniversary is the last day you can file in the statutory period. There’s a 90 day window there before the two year anniversary of your green card.
Tammy wants to know, her spouse has not filed his taxes. How many years back will the immigration department look?
Yeah, that’s a good question. All right. When you apply for a spouse to come to the United States, you have to file an affidavit of support. An affidavit of support used to be the only way that the government would make sure that the foreign national didn’t come here and get government support. So now, there’s other methods, like that’s where we get into the public charge stuff and all those questions, but if you are the sponsor, if you’re the US citizen spouse, and you’ve never filled your taxes, we will not file your case until your taxes are on file.
You’re going to have to file at least the last three years, because that’s what they’re going to look at, and they’re going to want to make sure that the US citizen, A, makes enough money, but B, also is paying their taxes. You’re not going to be able to get an I-130 approved if the US citizen hasn’t filed their taxes.
In order to avoid a request for evidence later, and scrambling to get taxes done, we insist that our clients file their tax returns before we file the I-130. Because what you don’t want is to set up a situation where you’re going to get a request for evidence and then you have to scramble to get taxes for someone who hasn’t been paying their taxes, and plus, we want to have that taken care of ahead of time, so they’re not even thinking about, “Why is this person not paying their taxes? Is this person a criminal? They’re breaking the law, why should we let their spouse come?” We want to have again, taking that out, something for them to nitpick about or argue about.
Zac asked if the final rule of public charge says going on 24th of February, will it affect his petition that is in the NVC stage right now?
Yeah. In all honesty, I’ve been so busy lately that I haven’t read the new rule. I know it’s going into effect in February, I know the Supreme Court said that they can go into effect. I haven’t looked at the ins and outs of it, but I think that there’s going to be arguments that it should apply to cases that are already in the pipeline. I think there’s arguments that it shouldn’t be. I think that’ll probably be litigated, and I don’t think we know the answer to that yet.
Tecca said that her green card will be expired by June. When is the right time to file to remove the conditions?
Yeah. Oh, to remove the conditions? Okay. If it’s in June, so let’s say it’s June 1st, like we just say a little while ago, 90 days before, so May 1st, April 1st, March 1st. You don’t want to apply too early because they’ll just send it back, or worse, they’ll cash your check and then deny it. You want to make sure that you file in that 90 day window. I would wait at least until two weeks into the 90 days to file.
Okay. Fadi wants to know how often we’re going to have these webinars.
Well, how often would you like us to have them? Because I enjoy doing them. My wife says I need to get home and help make dinner, but I think I like doing the lawsuit webinars. .
I mean, this is the first one of these we’ve done. We did one last week and it sort of crashed. The technology didn’t work.
Yeah, I can do an ask me anything on the public charge rule, but man, Kelly, that stuff, it bums me out. It’s just so boring and dry. But I’ll try or at least maybe I’ll lead off with my thoughts on it and do a section on it, and then we can segue into more fun stuff like we’re doing today. All right. Give me some more questions, please.
Zakari wants to know what advice you have for an upcoming CR-1 interview.
Oh okay. Well, based on their earlier questions, I think that’s an embassy case, right?
Yeah. I just made a video about this the other day. I think it’s posted, about how to prove a recent marriage, or how to prove a recent case at the interview, a marriage case at the interview. People know and understand that if you’re a newlywed, you might not have all of the evidence that a long-established couple would have. I had a green card interview on Monday where the couple’s been married nine years and they have three kids. That’s the CR-1 case here in St Louis, and that case was relatively easy and actually got approved on the spot that day.
When you’re overseas, you’re going to want to document everything you can about the two couple, about how the couple met, what they like to do together, how they support each other, what they talk about, you’re going to want to send in chats. You’re going to want to send in proofs of any trips together, pictures together. You might want to get statements or affidavits from family members. You want to do everything you can to build a strong case as possible.
That goes back to that earlier question, “Should I get married on my very first trip to the country?” Hell no. No, you shouldn’t do that. That’s dumb. That’s going to give them things to argue about. Building a good case is like cooking a soup. You can chop up all the vegetables, thrown them in the water, turn it on 1000 degrees for 10 minutes and turn it off. It’s going to taste like crap.
What you need to do is take your time. Build your case. Build your life together. Don’t just do it for purposes of immigration, but start your life together. We’ve gotten cases approved where the couple met on the very first trip. It’s a lot harder, and there’s a lot more for them to complain about when you do it that way. So take your time and build real evidence. When you go to visit them back in Morocco, go on trips to Chefchaouen, or to Marrakesh, or whatever, and take pictures wherever you go and show the embassy that they know your family or they know your family, or do what you can to really lay down good facts, provable facts, and documents are very helpful. But they’re just so suspicious right now that you really need to do a good job and think things through.
Okay. Christine said that she wants to adopt kids from Africa. Should she wait to be a citizen, or can she still adopt as a permanent resident?
Yeah, permanent residents can adopt kids and right now the visas for the children of green card holders are current. Now, let’s talk about adoption. Number one, it’s really complicated and really hard. Number two, if the immigration service believes that the adoption is solely for the purposes of immigration, they’re going to look at the case a lot more harshly.
What do I mean by that? Well, if you’re going to an orphanage and adopting orphans, that’s different than if you’re adopting your sister’s daughter, because you want to bring your sister’s daughter to the United States to study or to live. When we get questions about adoption, most questions about adoption, if it’s an international adoption, there’s actually a law firm that we refer out to in Atlanta. There’s a lady down there. It’s all that she does, and it’s really that much of a specialty within immigration that I wouldn’t feel comfortable working on a case like that.
We’ve handled cases where adoptions were screwed up and we tried to save people and help them and we’ve been able to. But it’s enough of a specialty that even within immigration, I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing that myself.
Okay. Rah said that he filed the I-751 to get the conditional green card, but it’s been taking a long time. Is he eligible to apply for citizenship before the 10 year green card comes in?
That’s a great question. I actually have a video on this that I probably need to update, because my thoughts on this have changed, right? In the old days, a 751, which is the petition to remove the condition on a green card used to take three or four months. Sometimes two months. We’d file it and get approved, file it, get approved. Well, the Trump administration just sort of arbitrarily said, “We’re going to take our time with these” and now they give you an 18 month letter which suggests that they’re going to take 18 months to decide your 751, which is what they do in most cases.
The law says that you can go ahead and apply for citizenship, even if they haven’t adjudicated your 751. At first, that was the approach we were taking. I was mad, like I get, and so I just said, “Let’s push it, push it, push it.” But we’ve had so many scenarios lately where we’re seeing people do that. File that N-400 before the 751’s adjudicated, and then what happens is you show up at the interview and you never know what to expect.
The officer might be ready to interview on the 751, or they might be ready to interview on the N-400, but they might not be ready for both. You can’t really expect what’s going to happen. Unless there’s a compelling reason why people are wanting to apply for citizenship right away, and I know sometimes there are. They want to get their parents out of the home country, or something bad’s happening back home. I get that. I’m open to either approach, but for most people, I would probably tell them to wait. Just because it’s confusing the system now when we file the N-400 before the 751’s adjudicated.
Someone says that he has an employee green card application through the university that he works for. Should he have a private immigration lawyer to follow-up with the university law firm?
Oh, that’s tough one. Well, sometimes universities don’t even use law firms. I think there’s value to it. I mean, it’s going to be an expense, but hopefully if you’re at a sophisticated university who knows what they’re doing, and they’re regularly doing green cards, I think you should be okay. But at the same time, your interests and their interests are not always the exact same, so you might want to have a lawyer, at least who you can consult with, and run things past them as the case develops. I’m not saying that you have to do that, but it’s not a bad idea.
Cynthia said, “My husband has never met my children but I am planning on going to Morocco with my children and staying for the whole summer. When I file for the CR-1, should I write a statement of how we met and how he will finally meet my children in the summer?”
Okay, so this is a good question. She’s asking, “Should I include a statement as to why he hasn’t met my children at the outset when I file the case?” The answer to this question is no. No, you shouldn’t. Here’s why. Nobody asked you yet. This is a very important lesson for immigration. Don’t just go telling them things that you don’t need to be telling them. If they ask, at some future date, and of course, if you’re going to meet him soon, then hopefully when this question is actually asked, he will have met them.
You won’t even have to explain, but if you ever do have to explain, it’s always good to be ready with an explanation. But I just made a video about this on Monday, it will launch sometime this week, and it’s basically called always tell the truth, but don’t offer stuff. What I mean by that, you don’t have to go in there all apologetic and feeling defensive before you even file the case. There’s no reason for that.
You always want to be confident in your case, you always want to be firm and strong and ready for anything. You always want to tell the truth. But you don’t need to go in there and say, “Oh, my God, you won’t believe it. My husband has never met my children. I know you probably think that’s bizarre. Let me explain to you in this statement why.” I wouldn’t do that, because nobody asked. Nobody asked. Don’t offer up things that nobody’s focused on yet. Be ready for them, but don’t just be running in there all defensive right out of the box.
I’ve got about three more minutes, and my watch is telling me I need to stand, so I’m going to stand up. I’ve got to get my steps in. I’m going to stand like this so it gives me the credit. Can everybody see me? I’ve got to get my one minute in, and I’ve got about three minutes left, so we’ve probably got time for one or two more questions.
Mohammed said that he has a 130 for his son and the case is stuck in the US embassy in Khartoum. It’s been four months in AP. Can he sue now or is it too early?
It’s too late. Because now the travel ban’s in place. The travel ban has been expanded to Sudan, and somebody was asking, I saw earlier, about Nigeria. So, I’m being facetious. It’s not too late, you can still sue on a travel ban case, but it’s now going to be a lot harder to prove. If it’s a son, then hopefully that’s a case that could be overcome on the travel ban, but of course, every case is on a case by case basis.
Four months in AP, that means that the case has probably been pending for a year and a half overall, so depending on the original filing date, I would feel comfortable filing that lawsuit.
Okay. And the Johnny asks how impossible are large age differences to overcome?
I had an interview today, a consult today with someone who’s been waiting or getting ready to file and they’re 25 years apart. Actually no, that case was on file, it’s a 751. It’s not impossible to overcome. I think that almost equally what they look at with large age gaps is whether or not the couple has … If the US citizen has been married a lot of times. I think that’s something that you can overcome the age difference, but if the US citizen has a long complicated marital history, and there’s an age gap, or if there’s … If it’s difficult to explain the connection between the two, it’s just one factor.
Age gaps can be overcome, we’ve had age gaps in our office up to, I think the record in our office is 38 years. But you’re going to have to build up the other parts of the case to keep that from overcoming the fact that there is that age gap.
Sarath said, “My attorney didn’t apply for the I-485 with the 601 waiver. I got an RFE to send me pending I-45. What do I have to do?”
That’s a tricky question. It’s sort of hard to tell. That sounds like an adjustment case, there was a 601 waiver. I think you need to make sure that your lawyer is an immigration lawyer and that they know what they’re talking about. I don’t know why they wouldn’t have … It depends on what kind of case it is. There’s too many factors involved. There could be a scenario where you don’t send in the 601 waiver, but there’s other ones where you would, or send in the 45, so other ones you would. That one is, we don’t have enough facts.
I saw a couple people wondering can we help them sue? Yes, we can help you sue. Everyone’s going to get … Well, on the Facebook side, you won’t get a copy of this video, but I guess you can see it on Facebook, right?
And so if you want to get ahold of us, yeah, give us some likes if you guys like the video. I can’t believe we had 32 people on there, and we had 30 people on the webinar. Thanks everybody for joining us. If you give us a like or a heart, we’d really appreciate it. That would go a long way with us on Facebook. Our email is email@example.com. Thank you Kelly. And you can call us at 314-961-8200.
Obviously you’re in our Facebook group already, it’s called Immigrant Home. If you’re on the webinar and you’re not in there, join that. And then we have the YouTube channel. We’re almost up to 15,000 subscribers so that’s pretty exciting. All right. Yeah Matt, real quick, email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Nafeesa, I’m glad you liked it.
Okay. All right everybody. We’ll see you next time. We’ll probably do this in a couple weeks. We’ve got to get back on schedule, so all right. Next one will probably be a lawsuit webinar. Peace everyone. Have a great day. Thanks for all the hearts.