You don’t know what you don’t know. Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer, practicing law throughout the United States out of our office here in St. Louis, Missouri. In this video, we are going to discuss a concept that I see, or an occurrence that I see, in many, many, many immigration cases. In fact, earlier this week, my wife, Amany Ragab Hacking, who I practice with, was giving some training to our intake team on why people might want to hire a lawyer instead of going on their own at immigration.
You know, when I first started practicing immigration law, in my mind, in my competitive spirit, I always thought that my competitors, the other immigration lawyers, were the biggest reason that people didn’t hire our firm, but that’s not it. The biggest reason people don’t hire our firm is because they think they can do it themselves.
I laid out three categories when I … I helped with the training with Amany, as well. There’s people hiring other lawyers. There’s people who I would call, they hired drinking buddy, or Uncle Eddie, or some family friend who knows immigration or knows how to fill out forms. And then there’s people who do it themselves.
Amany spent a lot of time in the training talking about the perils or the dangers of filing all on your own. When you file all on your own, you’re basically going up against the federal government without proper armor and defenses, and you’re setting yourself up for failure. Amany went on and on with the team about different mistakes that she’s seen people make when filing on their own. The biggest one, that we see the most often, is when people don’t disclose something because they think it’s not important. That’s a really big mistake. Amany told story after story about people who answered no to a question when they should have answered yes.
Now, every question on one of these forms is designed to test the ability and the eligibility of the immigrant for the benefit sought. So if they’re applying for citizenship, it’s whether this Green Card holder is eligible and qualified to become a U.S citizen. If they are on a student visa or some other visa, and they want to adjust their status to that of lawful permanent resident, those 20 pages of questions, single-spaced and with two columns down in the middle of the page, all those questions are designed to see if there’s some reason why USCIS can deny the case.
So people, over, and over, and over, make the same mistakes. They don’t disclose things, and this all came home to me when I was talking to a lawsuit client who had been stopped at the airport. So this fellow was applying for citizenship. He’d been waiting a really long time for his citizenship, and he had recently gone back home and come back to the United States. When he got to the airport in Chicago, the CBP officers were grilling him on a marriage that he never disclosed.
So this fellow had gotten his visit visa to the United States, had married someone back in the home country, and then somehow got it annulled, or … It wasn’t a divorce, but he says it was nullified. He never disclosed this on his initial asylum application, he never disclosed it on his Green Card application, and he never disclosed it on his citizenship application. When I say never disclosed, what I mean is, he answered a question under oath that said he’d never been married.
Now, interestingly, his asylum case was based on the fact that he was bisexual. So I got on the phone with him shortly after this training with Amany, and I said, “Your citizenship case is over. You marked a box that said you’d never been married. That is untrue, and you’ve now admitted to Customs and Border Patrol that that was untrue. So it was untrue when you applied for citizenship, it was untrue when you applied for a Green Card, and it was also untrue when you applied for asylum. So even though you didn’t mean it, and didn’t understand that because you actually got married that is a marriage,” he’s in big trouble.
He has to hope … He’s going to withdraw his N-400. He has to hope that immigration will, A, allow him to withdraw it, and B, not go back and say, “Hey, if we had known that he was married, would we have given him asylum in the United States?” The important thing isn’t whether or not they would have or not. The important thing is that they will act now like, “Oh, we never would have given it to him if he disclosed it.” That might may or not be true. He very well could have gotten asylum with having been married, but the fact that there’s now a demonstrable discrepancy, an actual discrepancy or difference between what actually happened and what he put on all his forms, he’s in big trouble.
This all goes back to the training that Amany was giving to the leads team about how you don’t know what you don’t know. So I feel bad for this client. I hope nothing bad happens to him. But at the end of the day, he’s in a world of hurt, and hopefully USCIS will not come after him.
If you need help with your immigration case, we don’t just fill out forms. We offer a whole lot of expertise and guidance, above and beyond filling out forms. So you don’t want to do it yourself. You don’t want to rely on drinking buddy or Uncle Eddie. You need to use an immigration law firm that knows what they’re doing, so they can file a proper application and disclose all the right information that needs to be disclosed.
If you have questions about this, give us a call at (314) 961-8200. You can email us at [email protected] Be sure to join us in our Facebook group, which is called Immigrant Home, and if you liked this video, we ask that you please share it out on social so that you get updates whenever we make videos just like this one. Thanks a lot. Have a great day.