What is the latest trick used by USCIS in cases involving marital evidence?
Hi, Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer, practicing law throughout the United States here in St. Louis, Missouri.
I was a little shell-shocked the other day when I went to an interview and I had something happen that hasn't ever happened before. I have a client and his wife, they've been married for many years. I have every reason to believe that it's a completely legitimate marriage, and we were going for my client's naturalization interview. My client is from my India and his wife is from the United States, and they've been married three years, so they can apply for naturalization for him under the three-year rule. Generally, it takes five years for someone with a green card to be able to apply for naturalization, but if you're married to US citizen, you can apply after three years, and that's what we had done.
We submitted a ton of evidence of the marriage: the couple travel together, they live together, they combing of all their assets. They have ton of evidence that the marriage is legitimate, but something happened with the interview that really surprised me. The officer said that she wanted original mail that came to the house. She was not happy with computer-generated bank statements with documents off the Internet. I'm not talking now about birth certificates and marriage certificates and those kinds of things. Those things you always have to bring the originals, but at this N-400 interview, she was expecting us to bring not only copies for her to have but also the originals of junk mail, envelopes, and these kinds of material. I was really surprised by this. In many years of practice, I've never had this happen, and then I found out from a former client who filed on their own that this happened to them too this week at the St. Louis immigration office.
This may just be a trick at the St. Louis office, or it could be something that's going on across the board now. Here's what you have to remember: Immigration likes to think of ways to mess with people's cases. A lot of people think: "Oh, if I just submit the evidence and fill up the forms directly, everything is going to be approved," and that's not the case. It's simply not the case. The immigration service likes to cause mischief, likes to find ways to screw people over, and this is my honest belief after dealing with them for years and years.
I don't say this lightly, but I honestly believe that at various times they come up with different ways to deny cases. We see this a lot in the St. Louis office. I've seen in other cases, so certainly there are straightforward cases, but the case that I had in front of the officer last week was a very straightforward case. This has been bothering me. I've been upset about this for the last week and a half, and now I'm having to reconsider the cases that we filed. I'm going to have to talk to my clients about supporting evidence and about bringing more evidence and more evidence and how they want originals now. This is going to apply in original I-130 visa petitions. In cases in which the immigration officer asks for these documents, we're going to have to provide it. It's going to apply in I-751s where clients are trying to get the conditions removed from green card, and it's really going to be a big hassle, and it's really stupid.
I understand that couples need to provide competent evidence of their marriage. I understand that the immigration service needs to determine whether or not a marriage is valid, but when you have a couple who are both professionals, who both live together, who've been together for many years, who have reams and reams of documentation that happens to be off the Internet. We live in a paperless society. The vice president Al Gore said that he was going to turn the federal government into a paperless entity, and so it should be no surprise that our clients are generating documents off the Internet, but their bank statements are delivered electronically, that their electric bill, their phone bill, their gas bill. These kinds of bills all come electronically now. Certainly, there are people that get these by a regular mail, but what point is it to make them get original copies, if the photo copies of these items are sufficient.
It's really a joke. It's really ridiculous. It's just another example of the federal government overreaching, overstepping, and spending your money, wasting our time in ways that are meaningless and pointless, and it's really a foolish, foolish endeavor. You got to be ready for this. We made this video so that you understand what you're up against when you're dealing with the immigration service.
One of the great things about being an immigration attorney is that you're in a lot of interviews and you get to see a lot of things, and so that helps us do a better job of preparing our clients for their interview, getting them ready document-wise and preparation-wise for their interview. We really recommend that you think through doing this by yourself. I think that this is another example of where the immigration service can really cause mischief, especially with people who don't have attorneys, don't know how to respond to these overbearing, overlong and ridiculous request for evidence. If you're thinking about filing on your own, think it through real hard. Make sure that you want to do it on your own, because it can be a really big hassle.
If you have any questions about this, about this new policy, about this approach that they're taking, just another way for them to mess with people who are applying for immigration benefits, give us a call at 314-961-8200, or you can email us at [email protected] If you like this video, please be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel, so that you get alerted when we send out new videos.
Hope you have a great day, and thanks for watching.