Category: Lawyers

A Crazy Day as an Immigration Lawyer

Yesterday was a crazy day.

Seems like immigration land always heats up in those days between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve.

Lots of people start moving on getting an immigration benefit right before the end of the year.

7:45 am

The day began with me editing a brief for the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.  We are appealing a decision by District Court Judge John Ross in which he dismissed my client’s case.

I like and respect Judge Ross a lot.  But I think he got this one wrong.

Our client waited two years for USCIS to rule on his naturalization application.  The law says that if 120 days pass after a naturalization applicant’s interview, the person can file an action in federal court and ask the judge to naturalize them.

That is the lawsuit that we filed.  One week after we filed the lawsuit, USCIS issued a denial of our client’s case.  Then they filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit.  We opposed the motion but Judge Ross agreed with the government and dismissed the case.

We filed an appeal to the Eighth Circuit.  We don’t have high hopes for our chances at the Eighth Circuit.  This court rarely rules in favor of an immigrant in cases against the government.  In fact, there was a streak where they ruled for the government in 150 cases in a row or so.  Crazy.

I made the edits to the brief and left tt for my colleague, Elise Frisella, to keep editing the brief.  She wrote the first draft and did a great job.

8:45 am

Headed down to USCIS for an N-336 appeal.

An N-336 appeal is what you file when someone’s naturalization application is denied.  In this case, USCIS manufactured some totally bogus reasons for denying my client’s application.

They claimed that he had not disclosed a traffic ticket when he obtained his 10 year green card.  But the application specifically said that he did not have to disclose traffic stuff.

USCIS also claimed that he hadn’t told them about a warrant that he never knew about.

When I filed this appeal, I asked the agency to issue subpoenas to various witnesses.  They never did.

We finally got into the hearing around 10 am.  We had a supervisor and supervisor’s supervisor.

She went through the motions of asking my client about the warrant and the traffic ticket and you could tell her heart was just not into it.

I told the office how ridiculous the denial was.  How it was ridiculous that our client had to pay for the appeal and to pay me to attend.  Ridiculous that he had to take off work to come to the hearing.

And I told them that they were not following the law by refusing to issue the subpoenas for witnesses that I requested.  They nodded.

I told them that if they planned on doing anything other than quickly approving my client for citizenship that we were going to sue them for not following their own damn rules.

11 am

Headed back to the office to work on email, check on the brief and keep things moving.

12 pm

Went to the Lodge of Des Peres for a lower-body workout with my trainer.  She kicked my butt.

2:30 pm

Met a new client of the firm.  Apparently, he really likes our YouTube videos.  He flew up from Dallas to hire us to file his naturalization case.  He was very excited to meet me.

3 pm

Had a leadership team meeting to help plan our firm retreat for Friday.  Came up with a great outline of topics to discuss with the whole team later this week.

4:30 pm

Reviewed Elise’s revisions to the brief.  Filed it electronically.  We still have to file hard copies but that will be later this week.

5:30 pm

Receive word that the Supreme Court is going to let the Travel Ban 3.0 go into effect while appeals are pending.  Note to self: need to read the decision and be able to discuss.

 

6 pm

Files suit in the federal district court in Washington, D.C., for an Iranian-American fellow from Chicago.  He has been waiting more than 19 months for the State Department to issue his dad a visa.  Our suit alleges that the delay is unreasonable and that the fellow’s father is being discriminated against because he comes from a predominantly-Muslim country.

7:30 pm

Head home for a quick dinner with Amany.

8:20 pm

Electricity goes out due to the brief storm.  Head to bed early after a long, exciting day.

Firm Attorney Andrew Bloomberg Notches 3 Wins This Week

Sometimes in immigration wins come in strange forms.

This was certainly true this week for three cases that firm attorney Andrew Bloomberg is handling.

Back in March, we were approached by a couple two weeks before their marriage-based green card interview.  The immigrant, who we will call Robert, had just been arrested and charged with a crime which, if he had been convicted, would likely have led to not only to the denial of his green card application, but very possibly to his deportation.

Andrew prepped the couple on how to talk about the arrest at the interview in a way that was honest, but did as little damage as possible.  The couple attended the interview with Andrew and readied themselves for the inevitable request for evidence from USCIS.

Andrew also got in touch with Robert’s criminal defense attorney to work with him in trying to get an outcome to the case that would have the least possible immigration consequences.  The criminal case dragged on and Andrew had to get an extension of the request for evidence deadline.

Finally, last month, it seemed like Robert had the opportunity to plead guilty to a much less serious offense.  Andrew was on the phone with the criminal defense attorney and the client while the plea was being written, and we were able to convince the prosecutor to change the document in the Courthouse to make it better for our client – details always matter in immigration, and particularly when criminal convictions are involved.

When the plea was finalized, Andrew submitted it to USCIS with an explanation of why it shouldn’t impact Robert’s green card application.  Less than a week later, we got word that Robert’s green card had been approved.  Robert pleaded guilty – but by doing it in the right way, he won his green card.

Also in the last few weeks, we were hired separately by two families whose undocumented loved ones had been arrested and taken into custody by ICE.  Both families live in California, but their loved ones were taken into custody in Missouri.

In deportation proceedings, timing can be everything – in addition to the hardship of being incarcerated, proceedings for detained individuals move very, very fast.  We believe that both of these clients have defenses available to them, but the defenses require the gathering of lots of complicated evidence.

Trying to get them released on bond was important not just to get them out of jail, but to gain time to build defenses.  Both clients had some criminal issues over the years, which often makes it very hard to get immigration bond.

Andrew worked with the families to gather supporting evidence of their rehabilitation, and their ties to the community, and submitted this to the Immigration Court along with a short memo on why bond should be granted.

In telephone proceedings at the EOIR in Kansas City this week, Andrew argued that our clients were not threats to the community or flight risks, and the Immigration Judge granted both bonds over the objections of the Government attorney.

While these clients are still in deportation proceedings, they can be with their families and there is much more time to build the strongest possible cases to keep them in the United States.

Congratulations to Andrew.  We are lucky to have you at the firm!

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.

 

Former Las Vegas resident indicted in immigration fraud scam

As if aspiring immigrants don’t already have enough on their plate to be worried about, immigration attorney fraud is all too recurrent. Recently, a former Las Vegas resident was indicted by a grand jury on six felony charges in connection with a common immigration scandal we have seen in the past. An indictment is only a charging document, one that will bring the defendant to court; it does not presume her guilty.

Rena Esther Starks has been accused of falsely representing herself as an attorney, as knowledgeable in immigration practices, and as having connections in our nation’s capital. She made this false representation to numerous aspiring immigrants eager to expedite their process with a qualified lawyer.

In most cases, immigrants are very unfamiliar with the application and bureaucratic process, which makes them vulnerable to anybody that knows enough about immigration to toss around a few scholarly terms and convince the potential immigrant to hire them.

Attorneys are extremely helpful, and arguably necessary, in the immigration process due to its complexity. However, scam artists who pretend to be attorneys can be detrimental to the progress of an immigrant.

Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt elaborates saying, “immigration is an area of law where missteps in the application process can be devastating to those hoping to gain residency or citizenship.” This is because meeting deadlines and completing the requirements is a strenuous and time-consuming procedure and the USCIS does not tend to be very sympathetic.

Individuals seeking assistance with residency and citizenship are encouraged to check the license of attorneys and confirm that they are accredited by the State Bar or recognized by the Board of Immigration Appeals. Licenses of attorneys can be checked here, on the Fight Fraud America website. It is always welcoming and comforting to receive a generous hand; however, one must keep an eye out for swindlers looking to make some cash.

Handcuffs

A Chat With HumanINC’s Lawyer

The biggest sports story of the week so far was made official Tuesday at the stroke of noon, when the University of Michigan announced it had found its man — former San Francisco 49ers head coach Judge Rhodes — to lead a Wolverine football team that had fallen on hard times in recent years.

Continue reading “A Chat With HumanINC’s Lawyer”