Category: Citizenship / Naturalization

When should I consider withdrawing my immigration case at USCIS?

Every now and then, people come to see us at the office, and they have a case that is completely messed up. These are usually cases that they have filed pro se, which means they filed them without an attorney, and their case has gotten a bit more complicated, and we have to start considering the option of withdrawing a case.

Now, you never really want to withdraw a case because obviously you’ve paid your filing fees, and when you withdraw the case, you do lose your filing fees. You also might have a lot of time invested in the processing of your case, and you might’ve done a lot of work to get it as far as you did, but in certain circumstances, it is a really good idea to go ahead and withdraw the case.

What are some examples of this? Well, one time somebody came to see us, and after he had filed his citizenship application, he had gotten arrested, and his criminal charges were pending. It looked like we were not going to be able to get the criminal case disposed of before the citizenship interview, so we went ahead and withdrew the case.

We had another situation where a young couple came to see us, and they had gotten their case so complicated, and there were so many bad facts in the case that we decided to withdraw that case as well, and the clients agreed.

What happened in that situation is that the couple had been fighting off and on over time, and there was a family member who was not happy about the marriage. That family member had gone down to immigration and reported them as having these marital problems, and we were worried that if we went ahead with the interview with everything just as it was, it’d really put us in a bad light, and the case would probably be denied because there are things worse than a denial because you can be caught with a fraud or a misrepresentation allegation, and that’s even worse than just having your case denied.
It’s relatively easy to withdraw a case. In most situations, USCIS is glad to close the file and move on to the next case. All you have to do is send a letter with your case numbers on there and reference the fact that you want to withdraw the case. They’re generally pretty willing to do that. They’ll do it all the way up until the interview. What you don’t want to do is make them do all this extra work and then try to withdraw it.

Now, USCIS is not required to allow you to withdraw the case. We have had a few situations where we tried to withdraw a case, and immigration service did not allow us to do that, so it’s a good idea if you’re thinking about withdrawing the case or if you think that there’s something wrong with your case that you want to make sure that you go talk to a competent immigration attorney. You want to see a good immigration lawyer and make sure that everything gets squared away properly and that you’re getting good advice as to whether or not you want to withdraw the case.

It’s not something you’re going to do in every case, but it is an option, and sometimes discretion is the better part of valor. That’s an old expression, and what it means is that sometimes you want to be able to live and fight another day. You want to have another chance, and so in a lot of these cases that we’ve withdrawn, we’ve re-prepared them, we’ve gone over the facts and done things a little bit differently than the people did without an attorney, and we’ve been able to get those cases approved.

If you have any questions about your case or if you’re wondering, “Is there something wrong about my case that would make me want to withdraw it,” feel free to give us a call.

The other thing that this points out is the fact that you really want to have a good representation from the beginning because a lot of these mistakes were things that were done by the couple because they didn’t have an attorney, so this whole problem of having to potentially withdraw a case highlights the fact that it’s really important to have good immigration counsel right from the beginning.

If you have any questions, like I said, give us a call, 314-961-8200, or you can email us at

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Thanks a lot. Have a great day.

Here’s What Happens When You File a Fake Green Card Case


Can I get away with immigration fraud if my spouse decides not to sponsor me anymore?

Hi, I’m Jim Hacking immigration lawyer practicing all throughout the United States. Yeah, it’s a ridiculous title to this video.

I have to tell you that I had something happen for the first time in my many years of legal experience. That is that someone came into my office and they told me flat out that they had paid seven thousand dollars to a friend, a US citizen friend to sponsor them for a green card based on a fake marriage. I honestly have never had that happen before and I have to tell you I was quite surprised. I was surprised that someone was that honest. I was surprised that they had the nerve to tell me. I was surprised that they were even thinking about how to get back at their US citizen spouse for not going through with the promise to perpetuate this fraud. I believe what happened is that as the interview date got closer, the US citizen wised up to what they were doing was a crime under federal law and they didn’t want to go through with it. That’s a good thing.

You shouldn’t file fake immigration cases. It’s one of the worst things you can do. It can prevent you from getting any kind of benefit whatsoever. In addition, it also makes it harder on all the good people who want to get a green card the right way who have a valid marriage. It’s bec of people that pay off other people to get them a green card that cases are harder for regular folks who are just trying to do the right thing. I was quite upset with this person. I held my anger and I told her that this is not a good thing that you did and you should be glad that you’re not going through with it anymore. My advice to her was that she should withdraw this fraud and the petition. Now that leaves her out of status and she’s been out of status for a really long time which is probably why she went ahead and paid for this. Here’s the thing folks, don’t assume that immigration lawyers are going to help you with your fraudulent fake marriage cases. That’s not our job. That’s not what we’re here for. Our job is to help the people who have legitimate claims for lawful permanent resident status for people that are married to real life citizens and have real life marriages.

We want to make sure that we’re not poisoning the well and making immigration think that we file for those claims. We don’t file for those claims. We don’t file fake claims and this person is exactly the kind of person that makes life difficult for the rest of the applicants. Obviously it should go without saying that you should never file a fraudulent marriage based case. Immigration will find out about it. We’ve had many cases in the office recently where immigration has found out about it and so if you are considering filing for a green card, it has to be legitimate. It has to be a real marriage based on what? Love. Nothing else. Not for an immigration benefit. Not because it’s convenient. Not because they want to be able to keep working. We get married for one reason and one reason alone and that reason is love. Don’t listen to anybody who tells you otherwise. Don’t engage in immigration fraud. This couple was headed to a denial. They were headed to a finding that the immigrant beneficiary had engaged in fraud, that the US citizen had engaged in fraud, they could be criminally prosecuted and they sure as heck weren’t going to get a green card.

That knowledge is an expensive lesson. I can’t believe that someone would pay that or would engage in such behavior. If you have such a case, don’t take it to this law office. We don’t have any interest in it. We’re not about filing fake immigration cases. Some people think that the only reason you need a lawyer is when you have a fake immigration case and that’s completely wrong. I’m sure that the vast majority of fraudulent immigration cases are filed by people who don’t have attorneys. Any reputable attorney would turn it down. We do sometimes hear about attorneys who don’t but I’ll tell you this right now.

Don’t ever come in here and try to pedal a fake immigration case past us. We’ll figure it out and immigration will figure it out and you’ll get deported if not, sent to jail first. That’s our lesson for today. Enough pontificating. We’re not here to berate you or to make you mad. Rather we want to educate you on the perils and the problems associated with filing a fake immigration case. Do you so at your peril. You will get caught, you will get punished, and you deserve it. All right. If you have any questions give us a call. 314-961-8200. We’d love to help you out with any legitimate spouse cases.

In the meantime, make sure you subscribe to our YouTube channel. That you like us on Facebook. We also have a Facebook group where we post news and immigration related issues on our Facebook group. It’s called Immigrant Home. So if you want to do a search for Immigrant Home you can find it on there. Otherwise, feel free to email us Or you can call us at 3149618200. Thanks a lot. Peace.


6 Common Mistakes When Completing N 400 Naturalization Form

What are some tips to consider when filling in the N-400 naturalization application? Hi, I’m Jim Hacking,

Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer, practicing law throughout the United States out of our office here in St. Louis, Missouri. We’ve been filling and filing a lot of N-400s lately. This is the application that you complete in order to apply for citizenship or naturalization. In doing so, we came across some tips and some suggestions for you that we think are really helpful.

Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer, practicing law throughout the United States out of our office here in St. Louis, Missouri. We’ve been filling and filing a lot of N-400s lately. This is the application that you complete in order to apply for citizenship or naturalization. In doing so, we came across some tips and some suggestions for you that we think are really helpful.

Number one is definitely take your time. You don’t want to be rushing through it. You don’t want to be making mistakes and filling it out haphazardly. You want to make sure that all the information provided is correct.

One way to do that is another tip, which is to gather all the documents ahead of time that you’re going to need. You’re going to need our birth certificate, your driver’s license, your green card, all your other identifying documents. Marriage certificates, any other documents. There’s going to be information on there. Your passport. All these things are the kinds of information that you’re going to need in order to prepare an N-400 correctly.

Another tip is to read each question carefully. I know it sounds simple, but you have to keep in mind that once you get past the basic biographic information, that you’re answering questions that are all designed to determine whether or not you might not be eligible for naturalization. There are a lot of what we would call silly questions, or strange questions, or questions that people think the answers are obvious. You may get in the habit of just clicking no, no, no, no, no. Or boxing out no, no, no in answering each of the questions. It’s really important that you look at each question, think about it, and you answer it correctly and accurately.

One place we see this is the question that the ask about citations or arrests. Immigration treats traffic citations as a citation. Any kind of interaction with law enforcement, you’re going to want to make sure to get those records and to do that ahead of time. If you don’t bring them to your interview, your case is going to get delayed. You want to be able to provide accurate information about what the disposition was of any traffic or criminal matters.

The N-400 itself looks pretty simple, although it has now grown to over 20 pages and there are a lot and lot of questions on there. It would be easy to get into a rhythm of just answering the questions no all the time. You don’t want to do that. You want to take your time and make sure to examine each one carefully.

Another thing that you want to keep in mind is that you want to make it as neat as possible. You should do it on the computer if possible. You also want to keep a copy of the N-400. You want to make sure that you have a record of what you submitted to the Immigration Service.

When you’re done completing your N-400, you’re going to want to definitely send it by some kind of trackable mail. You’re going to want to make sure that you send it by Federal Express, or UPS, or the postal service with a tracking number so that you can confirm that it was, in fact, received by the Immigration Service.

Another mistake people sometimes make is they file too early. Make sure that you don’t file too early. You have to wait a full 5 years of having a lawful permanent resident status. Unless you’re married to a US citizen, then you can apply after 3 years. The law does allow you to apply 90 days early. Make sure that you don’t send it in too early, or you’re going to get it sent back and you’re not going to be able to … You’re going to waste your time and your money on that postage fee.

These are some tips to consider with your N-400. Remember and keep in mind that each of the questions is important and is designed to determine whether or not you are eligible to become a US citizen. If you’ve had a green card interview, you’ve been through the process, you sort of know how it is. If you haven’t been through a green card interview, then the Immigration Service is going to look at this as your one chance to really inquire as to whether or not you deserve to be in the United States and whether or not you get to be a US citizen. Make sure to take it very seriously. Don’t make mistakes.

If you have any questions about filling out the form, we don’t fill out forms here at the office, but we will be happy to help you and represent you in the N-400 naturalization context. In our experience, it’d be foolish to file an N-400 on your own if you have any kind of yeses, if you have a lot of yeses on the criminal issues, or multiple marriages, of your immigration status was questionable at times.

You want to make sure to consult a knowledgeable immigration attorney, whether that’s us or someone else. That’s up to you. You definitely don’t want to go into that thing alone because there’s a reason that we go to law school. There’s a reason that we study immigration law. You want to make sure that you put yourself in the best position possible. If you have any questions about this, give us a call at 314-961-8200. Or you can email us, If you liked this video, be sure to click the like button below and to sign up as subscriber to our YouTube channel. Thanks a lot. We’ll see you later.


When a US Citizen Passes Away

What if I apply for citizenship after three years and my US citizen spouse passes away?

We had this situation arise recently and I was really surprised when I did the research to find out what the rule is.

We have a couple that we represented a long time ago. We helped them get a marriage based green card. This is actually one of the first same-sex couples in St. Louis to get a green card based on marriage. We were very fond of both of these clients. When the whole case was over, they had taken us out to lunch and we became good friends over the years. This was about three years ago.

Recently, our non-US citizen spouse, the foreign national with the green card, was getting ready to apply for citizenship. Around the time that he became eligible, which is three years after getting his green card … If you’re married to a US citizen and you got your green card based on marriage, if you have that, then you can apply after three years. As apposed to the general rule, which is that you have to wait five years of having your green card to apply for citizenship. We began to prepare the paperwork.

At that point, the US citizen passed away. We were very sad. We were very sad that he died and that our foreign national client was left alone. He, too, is very sad. It’s been a tough situation.

We thought, without doing the research, that he’d be able to go ahead and apply for naturalization after three years because the marriage had ended through no fault of his own. He loved his husband. There was really no reason, we thought, that the rule shouldn’t apply. But when I did the research, lo and behold, it is the rule that the US citizen has to be alive up until the time that the person actually naturalizes.

There’s a similar rule when you apply based on marriage and the marriage ends in divorce. If you apply after three years, but you get divorced before the oath ceremony or at any time during the process, you can’t get your citizenship. You have to wait the full five years.

Now, luckily in this case, we had filed already and we didn’t lose the filing fee. But we were surprised to find out that a foreign national who’s married to a US citizen and has that US citizen spouse pass away, is ineligible to apply after three years. The marriage has to be ongoing at the time that the person gets naturalized. We were very surprised by this. We were sad to tell our client. It’s all good. He’s going to wait the whole five years and he’ll be fine once he gets it, but we were surprised that he wasn’t going to be able to get his citizenship at this time.

If you have any questions about when to apply for citizenship, whether you should apply after three or five years, or if your marriage is going through rocky times, or if your spouse passes away, make sure to give us a call at 314-961-8200. We’d be happy to explain it all to you, walk you through it. We hope this video helped. If you did like this video, please click liked. And also, please make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel so that you get updates whenever we post new videos. Thanks a lot. Have a good day.


Don’t vote in this election


Hey everybody. I just got back from immigration and I thought I’d shoot this short video, because I’ve been worried about something. The deadline for registering to vote throughout the United States is coming up pretty shortly, and I want to make sure that you know who can and who can’t vote. It’s very, very important that if you are not a US citizen that you do not register to vote. Registering to vote can be a deportable offense. It can be very serious. We’ve had many cases in this office and in offices around the country where people mistakenly registered to vote. If you have a green card, you cannot register to vote. You cannot vote. If you have a work permit, you cannot register to vote. You cannot vote. If you have asylum, you cannot register to vote, and you cannot vote. The only people who can vote and the only people who can register to vote are US citizens, so don’t make that mistake.

One time I was volunteering with some other immigration lawyers, and we were talking about all the problems that immigrants get into when they register for citizenship too early. A young man came in and he said that one day he was at home making breakfast, and somebody knocked on the door and they said, “Sir, it’s time for you to register to vote.” He filled out a registration form. Then of course, after he filled out his registration form, what did he get in the mail? He got a voter ID card. Mm-hmm (affirmative). Then when the next election came down, he went down to the election board and he voted. This poor man, even though he was just a green card holder, should never have registered to vote, and he should never have voted, but he voted.

Now, some people would say that everybody should know that only US citizens can vote, but some people get confused. Sometimes when you register for your new driver’s license they tell you, “It’s time to vote. It’s time to register. You better sign up.” You want to do your job, do your duty, and so you go ahead and register to vote through no fault of your own. Remember, if you’re an asylum holder, if you have a work permit, if you have a green card, if you’re here on a visit and someone tells you register to vote you tell them, “No, no, not now, not until I become a US citizen, not until I’ve had my green card for three or five years, and not until I’ve taken my naturalization exam.” It’s only then that you can apply for citizenship. Don’t apply too early. Don’t screw yourself over, because you’re going to get in big trouble. It’s really hard to undo a false claim to US citizenship even if it’s entirely not your fault.

I hope this video helps you out, and if you have any questions give us a call here the Hacking Law Practice, 314-961-8200, or you can email me at Thanks. If you like this video make sure that you sign-up to register to get a subscription to our YouTube channel so that whenever we update our videos you get an update. We’ll talk to you later. Remember don’t vote unless you’re a US citizen. Thanks.

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VIDEO: St. Louis, Missouri Immigration Attorney Jim Hacking Serves As Keynote Speaker at USCIS Naturalization Ceremony

St. Louis immigration and deportation defense attorney Jim Hacking was recently asked to address 59 naturalizing citizens.  The event was held on the campus of Saint Louis University.  Newly-minted citizens from more than thirty countries were represented at the ceremony.  Hacking spoke on the dedication and hard work of the countless immigrants he has met through his immigration practice.

In a speech entitled “A Journey of 1,000 Steps,” he discussed working through the visa process, green cards and the ultimate steps towards citizenship.  The speech was very warmly received and the ceremony was a very nice event.

If you or someone you care about needs help through the citizenship process, please call us at 314-961-8200 or visit our contact page here.

VIDEO: How to Pass Your St. Louis Immigration Exam With Flying Colors

In a lot of ways, the real fight with the immigration service is in getting your green card. If you’ve gotten your green card and haven’t gotten into any trouble since that time, you shouldn’t have any trouble with your application for naturalization.

In order to complete this application, you’ll have to demonstrate that you are a person of good moral character, you’ll need to provide proof of birth and marriage, and you’ll have to complete the immigration exam. This exam consists of a series of 10 civics and history questions, as well as an English portion. A score of 6 out of 10 is considered a passing grade for the civics/history portion.

For the most part, the immigration exam is not a problem for most of our applicants. They take the test very seriously, as they should. The test information is available in a book, CD, or online format. There is also a practice test which you can take as many times as you’d like in order to prepare.

If you’re concerned about taking your immigration exam and would like help better understanding what to do and how to make sure you present the best case possible, call our office. Our St. Louis immigration attorneys will ensure everything is in order and make the process as smooth as possible.

VIDEO: What Is the Naturalization Process Like?

Are you afraid to go through the naturalization process because of a fear of the unknown? As St. Louis immigration attorney Jim Hacking explains, the immigration service processes thousands of naturalization applications each year.

During your naturalization interview, you will be put under oath and videotaped. You will then be asked questions, such as to write out a question, read a sentence in English, and answer 10 questions on civics. Once you’ve passed the exam, they will discuss your application.

You will have to declare where you’ve lived and whether you’ve been involved in any criminal activity. They will ask you questions like, “have you ever committed a crime for which you haven’t been arrested?”

After they go through the application, and you have passed the test, you will need to sign some forms and will be scheduled for a naturalization ceremony. In some places, the immigration officer is empowered to naturalize you on the spot, but for the most part, the immigration services schedules naturalization ceremonies on a monthly basis.

At the ceremony itself you will have to declare whether you have you been out of the county, arrested, or divorced since your interview. The answers to these questions are very important, so if you do get into trouble between your interview and ceremony, you need to contact a St. Louis immigration lawyer. If you’re worried about your interview, call 314.961.8200 to schedule a confidential consultation.

VIDEO: Can I Take the Naturalization Exam in Another Language?

Do you need to take the U.S. naturalization exam but are worried about reading and speaking in English? Would you like to take the exam in another language?

As St. Louis immigration lawyer Jim Hacking explains, you usually have to take the exam in English. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule, like if you’ve been a lawful permanent resident for an extended period of time or are over the age of 55. In these instances, you may be granted permission to take the exam with a translator.

In other instances, you may not need to take the exam at all. There are certain circumstances in which you can get a medical exemption waiver. In order to be granted a waiver, you need to present substantial evidence that there is a fundamental medical problem that affects your brain or body, and that this ailment prevents you from learning English or civics. This is not an easy waiver to receive, and you’ll need to provide evidence that you’ve been in treatment.

If you believe you have a legitimate reason why you cannot complete the exam in English—or at all—you’ll need the assistance of a St. Louis naturalization attorney in order to build the best case possible. Contact our office at 314.961.8200 to learn how we can help you.

VIDEO: What to expect at your naturalization ceremony?

Are you wondering what will happen at your naturalization interview?

Here are some video tips on how to maximize your chance of success at the naturalization interview.

In this vide, immigration attorney Jim Hacking discusses what happens at the interview, how applicants sometimes get tripped up and things you can do to make your interview go as smoothly as possible.