A common question that we get from potential clients is if USCIS looks at all of their immigration history when applying for a benefit.
The answer is yes.
To show you, I want to tell you a story about a client, let’s call him “Miguel”.
When Miguel was 7 years old, he came to the U.S. with his parents on visitor visas.
They were fleeing violence in Mexico.
When they arrived to the U.S., his parents applied for asylum.
Since Miguel was a minor, he was included on their applications.
However, their asylum was denied and USCIS sent a notice to appear.
But they sent it to the wrong address.
They never knew that they were in removal proceedings because they never received the notice to appear.
USCIS continued sending notices to appear to the wrong address, and finally they received a final hearing.
But they didn’t go, because they had no idea.
A judge ordered that they be deported, but since they didn’t know that they were in removal proceedings, they didn’t leave.
Miguel continued to grow up in the U.S., attending high school and college.
He never knew he was supposed to be deported, but he knew he had no status.
As soon as DACA was released, he applied and was able to remain in the U.S.
In 2017, he married his wife, a U.S. citizen.
Miguel and his wife came to us for help filing the I-130 petition because they were worried that Miguel’s immigration history would affect their application.
We quickly filed a Freedom of Information Act to find out how much of his history USCIS knew, and that was when we found out that he was ordered deported and currently still had a removal order.
Their I-130 was approved in July of 2018, but Miguel couldn’t receive his green card because he still had a removal order.
So Jim filed a motion to re-open the removal case in October of 2018 in Los Angeles.
He worked closely with the LA ICE office to get them to agree to terminate the removal proceedings.
In most cases, if ICE agrees to terminate the proceedings, so will a judge.
Suddenly the LA ICE office decided that they did not have jurisdiction over the case, so Jim had to work quickly to get a change of venue and work with the Kansas City ICE office instead.
We continued to exchange emails with the Kansas City ICE office, and they finally agreed that they wouldn’t oppose the motion to terminate but they also wouldn’t fully agree to it either.
They were being exceptionally difficult.
So we filed a motion to terminate in June of 2020.
One month later, the judge granted our motion and terminated Miguel’s removal case.
He could finally receive his green card!
Attorney Laura Voegeli worked closely with Miguel and his wife to get the documents for adjustment of status.
In August of 2020, we filed the adjustment of status application.
Normally, it takes USCIS 6-9 months to schedule an interview, but in this case it only took 2 months.
Miguel went with Attorney Jim Hacking to his interview at USCIS in October.
The interview only lasted 11 minutes, and the officer told him on the spot that he was approved!
Miguel received his green card in the mail a few weeks ago, and while we are so happy for him, we also wanted to share this lesson with you.
When you file for an immigration benefit, USCIS will look at your entire immigration history.
This is why it is important to file a Freedom of Information Act request for your file, to know exactly what USCIS knows about you.