Let’s just try and get away with it. Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States at our office here in St. Louis, Missouri. I was doing a consult this weekend with the fellow from Washington State and he had a long pending 10 year green card application and I-751 petition to remove conditions on his green card. And he was telling me about his case.
He and his wife had gotten married and he had obtained lawful permanent residents through her. She was a US citizen. And eventually it came time two years later for them to file the I-751 and they filed it jointly, which means they filed it as husband and wife. They both signed the forms and the case took a really long time. These cases used to take just a few months. Now they take about 18 months. And a few months after they filed, his wife filed for divorce. And they left the I-751 pending.
And this fellow is a very diligent, smart, kind person. And he called his current lawyer and he said to him, “Hey, we’re getting divorced. What do you think we should do?” And the lawyer said, “Well, let’s just let it go. Let’s let the case keep pending.” And frankly, I was shocked by this because this person has a application on file with the immigration service and he has represented that he and his wife are still in a valid marriage. And that would be the basis for him getting the 10 year green card. But the lawyer told him to just let the case stand, that it was going to get approved. And so therefore there was no reason to alert them.
Now this is bad for a lot of reasons, but it brought up an issue that I see people present from time to time when discussing their immigration case. And that is, well maybe we can get away with it. And this is not the right mindset at immigration. This is not the right approach. These are not the types of things that we do at immigration. These are not the kinds of cases that we file.
And I told this young man that what we would do is we would prepare a 751 solo that he could file it on his own, and then he would just have to demonstrate that it was a good faith marriage that didn’t end up right. That he should notify USCIS as soon as possible. The divorce is finished, so even if they gave him the green card, it’s not a valid 10 year green card.
He’s divorced, and we can’t forget that at the end of the day he’s probably going to want his citizenship. And at that point, he’s going to have to apply for an N-400. He’s going to have to write out this whole immigration history, talk it through at the interview, and the officer’s going to figure out pretty quickly that he got divorced and then he received his 10 year green card.
So it’s all going to unravel for him even if it gets approved. In fact, now I’m a little bit worried that the case has been pending so long that even if he does notify them that he’s not going to be able to get the case updated to reflect the fact that he’s divorced and that’s going to be a real problem for him.
So we had an interesting talk, but it brings up this concept of let’s just try to get away with something. This is wrong. It’s wrong for lots of reasons. One is you can get nailed for immigration fraud. It’s a crime. The second is that you should always do the right thing. I told them a story about when I was a young kid and I bought a car from my dad. And let’s say he sold it to me for $5,000 or for, yeah. And then I had to register it for the purposes of personal property taxes here in Missouri.
I wanted to register it as a sale at $2,500 because then I would have to pay less. But he said, “Jimmy, you always got to do the right thing.” And that’s especially true when you’re dealing with the government. You have to be honest and forthright. You can’t be sneaky, and this guy has a great future ahead of him. But if he played this too cute, he’s going to find himself in trouble.
So we encouraged him to go back to his lawyer and demand that they withdraw the old case and file a new case. He might end up hiring us to do the new case. I’d be a little bit worried about that lawyer, but for the long and the short of it is always tell the truth, be honest, and don’t be sneaky, and don’t go into immigration with a mindset of, “Oh, let’s just see what we can get away with.” That is not the right attitude.
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