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.

USCIS Approves Green Card Despite Six Year Overstay

One of the great things about practicing immigration law is the ability to continuing to help people after their initial matter.  We have a client from Bosnia who we helped obtain citizenship a few years ago despite an old gun arrest.  Last year, our client married a young lady from Bosnia who had come to the United States in 2006 on a visitor visa and never returned home.  Her visa had expired years ago.

U.S. immigration law provides that if an alien was inspected but overstayed their visa, their subsequent marriage to a United States citizen will “clean up” the overstay.  That is, the spouse of a U.S. citizen can still adjust to lawful permanent resident status despite having overstayed.  This rule does not apply to people who were never inspected by agents of Customs and Border Patrol.

Earlier this year, we filed a spouse visa and adjustment application on behalf of our young Bosnian couple.  We appeared before the St. Louis field office of USCIS on Tuesday and received word yesterday that our client’s application to adjust status had been approved.  Our client will receive a conditional two year green card.  Prior to the expiration of the two years, we will file to have the conditions removed and she will receive a ten year green card, assuming the couple is still married and everything is in order.  Of course, one year later, our client can apply for naturalization as the result of being married to a U.S. citizen.

Indian national obtains lawful permanent resident status from St. Louis USCIS office

We received word yesterday that our client – a computer programmer from India – had received his green card in the mail. The case had taken several months to process, mostly due to a delay at the local USCIS office in St. Louis. Apparently, the case was supposed to have been placed in the interview queue several months ago, but someone forgot to do so.

We followed up on the case with an InfoPass appointment at the USCIS office located at 1222 Spruce Street. The interview was last week and the case was quickly approved. Our client received his green card within two weeks of the interview.

St Louis immigration law firm obtains LPR status for client in tough case

Approximately one and a half years ago, we were contacted by Ahmed (* not his real name) and asked to assist him in obtaining lawful permanent resident status.  Ahmed had served in Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath party in Iraq during that country’s invasion of Kuwait.  Ahmed had defected during that war and eventually sought asylum in the United States.

Ahmed’s asylum application was approved and he lived in the United States for many years.  When the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, Ahmed returned to his home country and served as a translator for U.S. forces and private military contractors in the second Iraq war.

After his service ended, he returned to St. Louis, working in a variety of jobs.  Ahmed applied for lawful permanent resident status based on his prior grant of asylum.  Ahmed had two interviews but waited for years for his green card application to be approved.

When Ahmed came to see us, he was at his wit’s end and was sick of getting the runaround from the St. Louis of USCIS.   Ahmed had made numerous InfoPass appointments, made numerous phone calls to the USCIS toll free number and had even contacted members of Congress.  None of these efforts helped.  Instead of approving or denying the case, USCIS simply refused to decide the case.  This is not aninfrequent occurrence at our local office.

We entered our appearance on Ahmed’s behalf at USCIS and notified the assistant US attorney who represents USCIS locally that we planned on filing suit if the local office continued to sit on the case. Shortly thereafter,, Ahmed was scheduled for a special interview with a USCIS specialist from Detroit.  The interview was videotaped and Ahmed answered questions for over two hours.  The questions focused upon his activities as a member of Saddam Hussein’s military.  We attended the interview, which went well.

Last week, Ahmed received his green card in the mail, after a wait of over seven years.  Wewere very happy to help him get his case resolved.

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.