Category: Green Card – LPR Status

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.


Leaving the US While Your Green Card is Pending

Can I leave the United States after filing my adjustment of status application based on marriage to a US citizen?

Hi, Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States out of our office here in St. Louis, Missouri. Whenever we file an adjustment of status application, we always make sure to make sure to file some accompanying documents, including an I-131, which is an application for a travel document, an I-765, which is for work authorization, and some other documents identifying the individuals involved in the process. There’s obviously the I-130, petition for an alien relative, and then adjustment of status application.

It usually takes about four months from the date of filing for the non citizen to receive their work card/travel documents. In the old days, these would come as separate documents. The travel document would be a piece of paper with the alien’s face on it, and the work card would be separate. For the last two years or so, USCIS has combined those into a single document. The way it works is after you file the I-130 and the I-45 package, a biometrics notice is sent out after the case has been receded, and the foreign is given an appointment date to go to the local service center and to get fingerprinted.

At that point, there are biometrics completed. Those are the biometrics, and then takes about ninety days for the background check to be completed. During that time, you’re in sort of limbo if you’re the foreign national. If you leave before you get the work card and the travel document in the mail, then you are most likely going to be deemed to have abandoned your adjustment of status application. At that point, that becomes a real problem. We recently had a situation where someone did just that. Her father got sick, and she had to leave the United States. Now she’s being forced to [council 00:01:50] her process. That is, she’s going to have to go through the consulate back home in China and deal with the State Department and the National Visa Center and all those other aspects of immigration that make life a little bit more difficult when you’re trying to come from overseas.

Generally, it’s a bad idea to leave before your travel document arrives. The USCIS doesn’t like it. It makes your case very complicated. It slows things down. Obviously, you’re not going to be able to come back into the United States until your I-130’s improved, and you go through the [counselor 00:02:23] process. Think long and hard before leaving the United States. If you haven’t gotten your travel document, a lot of times, especially married couples will have travel plans. Sometimes we have to tell them that perhaps those plans need to be changed. There aren’t many ways to expedite the travel document. The process takes as long as it takes. Sometimes USCIS does take the full ninety or even a hundred days to issue that travel document.

If you have any questions about this, be sure to give us a call at 314-961-8200, or you can email us at If you like this video, please give us a thumbs up like on the YouTube channel. Make sure to subscribe to our channel so that when we update with new immigration videos, you’re the first one to see them. Thanks a lot, and have a good day.


A New USCIS Trick in Spouse Cases

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 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.


VIDEO: Missouri immigration attorney Jim Hacking discusses the green card process

If you are wondering how to apply for a green card for your husband or wife, you need to watch this video.  Missouri immigration attorney Jim Hacking explains the documents that need to be filed, the time frame for things like biometrics and receipt notices and discusses how people can best prepare for the green card interview.  Through the video, we hope to take some of the mystery out of the process and enable you to submit the strongest application for a spouse visa and lawful permanent residence as possible.

VIDEO: Re-entry permit and why green card holders HAVE to get one before long visit overseas

People often wait many years for a green card (lawful permanent resident status).  After arriving, they sometimes have to leave the U.S. for an extended period of time.  Federal law allows green card holders to apply for a re-entry permit which allows them to stay outside of the U.S. for more than 6 months without putting their green card at risk.

This video explains the re-entry permit process and provides some do’s and don’ts when dealing with the USCIS on this issue.

We also provide a real world example of how not obtaining a re-entry permit prior to leaving the U.S. can leave someone exposed to not only losing the ability to apply for citizenship, but also the green card itself, potentially.

VIDEO: Green cards for same-sex couples

The U.S. Supreme Court paved the way for same-sex couples to obtain immigration benefits when the Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013.  DOMA had prohibited federal agencies including USCIS from extending marriage benefits to homosexual couples.

With the Supreme Court’s decision, USCIS began proessing same-sex marriage based green card applications. U.S. citizen spouses are now eligible to sponsor their spouses for lawful permanent resident status.  This extension of immigration benefits even extends to states that do not recognize same-sex marriages.  If the couple goes to a state where such marriages are legal (like Iowa and Illinois), their marriage will be recognized even if their home state does not recognize it (including Missouri).

This video explains the green card process for same-sex couples.

VIDEO: 3 things you need to know about filing for a fiance visa in St. Louis

The fiance visa process is different from the spouse visa in several respects.  This video outlines how important it is for couples to demonstrate that they have been in each other’s presence in the last 2 years, that they intend to get married within 90 days of arrival and what happens at that point.

VIDEO: St. Louis Immigration Attorney Jim Hacking Explains the

Some people who obtain lawful permanent resident status (“green cards”) in the U.S. automatically receive a “permanent” permanent green card.  These include parents or children of U.S. citizens or people who obtain green cards through employment.  The “permanent” permanent green card is renewed every ten years.

A “conditional” or “non-permanent” green card is given to foreigners who obtain lawful status through marriage.  If the marriage that serves as the bases of LPR status is less than two years old, USCIS issues a conditional green card.  At the end of the two years, the couple must demonstrate that they remain married and that they still share a life together.

In this video, St. Louis immigration attorney Jim Hacking discusses the conditional green card and what you need to do to get the conditions removed.

VIDEO: St. Louis Immigration Attorney Jim Hacking Discusses Questions You May Get At Consulate Spouse Visa Interview

When a U.S. citizen sponsors their husband or wife for a green card, the case begins at USCIS for approval, then gets sent to the National Visa Center in New Hampshire for additional processing.  After the payment of additional fees and processing by the NVC, the case is sent to the embassy for an interview for the immigrating spouse.

This video explains what your husband or wife can expect at their consulate visa interview.  We provide tips on how to present your case, as well as some do’s and don’ts to keep in mind at the interview.

If you have any questions about the visa interview, feel free to give us a call at (314) 961-8200.