St. Louis Immigration Attorney Jim Hacking Explains Why Working with an Experienced Immigration Attorney Can Boost Your Chances of Success

People who are considering hiring an immigration attorney often ask us why they need an attorney.  Some people interview us and conclude that they can handle their immigration matter without an attorney.  And there are certainly some simple issues that people should feel comfortable handling themselves.

But obtaining lawful permanent resident status for a family member is probably not one of those “simple matters.”  Last month, we were contacted by a very intelligent, sophisticated client who had filed an I-130 family visa petition and I-485 green card application for his mother. This man had lived in the US for a very long time, was a US citizen and highly educated.  His mother’s case had been pending for 10 months – since November of 2012.

USCIS

The man had filled out all of the right forms; however, there were one or two small little errors on each of the forms.  Nothing fatal, nothing crucial – just enough to confuse the immigration officers at USCIS.  When the man came to see us, he brought a request for evidence that raised five serious questions about the application.  USCIS invited the man to provide answers to the questions and to submit an entire new, corrected application at no cost.  He had 30 days to do so. Wisely, this time, the man hired us to help him.

None of the issues raised were overly complex or difficult for us to deal with.  We file these family based applications routinely and it was relatively easy for us to clean things up.  We prepared all new forms and resubmitted them to USCIS.  The visa and green card applications were approved in 18 days.  Our client and his mother were very happy.

The lesson to be learned here is that while you can handle some things yourself at immigration, for most matters you are probably better off with an experienced immigration attorney.  This man and his mother had to “sweat it out” waiting for 10 months because of the little mistakes that they had made in the application.

St. Louis Immigration Attorney Jim Hacking Helps Overstay Obtain Lawful Permanent Residence

Our office was contacted last year by a young Bosnian American from south St. Louis county whose mother-in-law had come to the United States in 2007 on a B1/B2 visitor visa.  The visitor visa had expired long ago and the fact that the elderly lady was living in the United States for three years out of status had caused the family a significant amount of stress.  The family had tried to file an immediate family visa application on their own, but had experienced difficulty in completing all of the forms correctly and gathering the necessary documents.  The lady’s lawful permanent resident (green card) application was therefore denied.

We met with the family and advised them that because the woman’s son was a U.S. citizen and was over the age of 21, she was eligible for an immediate visa based on her family status.   The fact that she was the mother of a U.S. citizen would also allow USCIS to “forgive” the fact that she had been in the U.S. out of status.

Happy to report that we went to the USCIS office in downtown St. Louis today for our client’s interview.  Her application for lawful permanent resident status was approved and the immigration officer informed us that our client would receive her green card in the mail in a few weeks.

Green Cards for Moms

We recently assisted two mothers of U.S. citizens obtain lawful permanent resident status.  While the two cases were somewhat similar, the facts of each case provides an interesting look into the nuances of federal immigration law.  These stories also demonstrate why working with an experienced immigration attorney is a good idea.

In the first instance, a woman from Europe had married a U.S. citizen long ago.  The couple had a child and the father made sure to establish the boy’s U.S. citizenship with the State Department. Sometime later, the couple divorced.  The mother and the son came to the U.S. and never returned to Europe.  The mother began her stay in the U.S. in valid visitor status, but her status had lapsed when she finished school.  She did not return home.  When she contacted us, her son was about to turn 21.  As a minor, he was ineligible to apply for a visa for his mother. That changed upon his 21st birthday.  We had all of his immigration paperwork ready to file immediately after his birthday.  The young man is a U.S. Marine and we applied while he was home in St. Louis.  This week, we attended the interview and the mother’s application was approved.  As the parent of a U.S. citizen, her overstay out of status was “forgiven” and she was allowed to adjust status to that of lawful permanent resident status.

In the other case, we had represented an Iraqi man who had naturalized late last year.  His mother had been visiting him for some time and had not returned home to Iraq due to illness.  Once the man obtained his citizenship, we immediately filed for lawful permanent resident status for the mom.  Her interview was this morning and her case was quickly approved.

One of the great joys about practicing immigration law is helping people out of sticky situations.  In both instances, our clients were very nervous about their respective situations.  We were able to counsel them and prepare them for possible outcomes.  By attending the interview and making sure the applications were complete, we helped put their mind at ease and help bring about a favorable result.  That’s a great way to spend a work day.

British Client Receives Green Card Three Days After Interview and Three Months After Filing

We happily received news in mid-January that our client’s application for Lawful Permanent Resident (“LPR”) status had been approved.  Our client, Jennifer G., applied for a spouse visa and green card for her husband, Jake, a British National, on October 26, 2012.  We attended the visa interview on Wednesday, January 9, 2013.  The interview went fine and our client’s various applications were approved on the spot.  Amazingly, Jake’s green card arrived on Saturday, January 12, 2013, less than 72 hours after the interview and less than three months after it was filed.  This lightning fast turnaround greatly pleased our clients as Jake’s brother was getting married overseas in late January and he needed to receive the green card in order to safely leave the country.  Jennifer has a big following on Twitter (@dearinterwebs) and she tweeted “Thanks to the best immigration attorney, @jimhacking, [Jake’s] green card arrived today!” to her 649 followers.

A couple of points need to be made about this case.  First, this is an atypical result and we have never had a green card approved this quickly before.  In fact, we have several clients who filed before this couple that are still waiting on their interview (thus demonstrating the arbitrary way that USCIS goes about its business).

Also, we had filed a work authorization card and travel document request with the initial applications.  Because of delays at USCIS in the issuance of work authorization cards (due to a backlog created by the new Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program), Jake received his green card before actually receiving his employment authorization card (which is unusual).

So very happy for our clients.