Is USCIS is going to deny my green card case? Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States at our offices in San Diego, California, and St. Louis, Missouri. We get a lot of people that call our office, wanting to know if their case is going to be approved or denied. Now, obviously, the approval rate at most field offices for green cards range somewhere between 80 and 90%. So, chances are your case is going to be approved, but who are the people that fall into that 10 and 20% of cases that actually get denied? You might be surprised to find that different field offices have different approval rates, but it’s true. Some are much harsher on immigrants. Some are easier on immigrants. Some treat you fairly, some don’t.
I always say that I think that USCIS field offices taken on the personalities of the director, and I think that’s true, or even over the region in which they’re at. So, one of the offices that I find to be very difficult to deal with is outside Denver, California. It’s in an exurb, and they are pretty cut and dry, hard and fast. They take their time on cases. They do what they want. They’re pretty aggressive. Other offices are more lenient or more professional and treat clients more fairly. So, I think geography does have a little bit of it. Field office does have a little bit to do with whether your case is going to be approved, but at the end of the day, it’s really going to come down to how you do preparing your forms and how you do at your interview.
So, one of the things that can really bring a case down, isn’t that there’s one major problem with the case, but just lots of little mistakes, lots of little frustrations for the officer, lots of little problems. And we call it death by a thousand cuts. It’s not one fatal blow to the head or to the heart, but rather a bunch of little cuts that sort of cause you and your case to sort of bleed out. So, we always want to take away reasons for them to say no. And a lot of times when I look at a fact pattern or I look at a particular situation, I’ll look at all the different ways things can go wrong. And what I try to do is just take away each of those ways for things to go wrong.
So, for instance, let’s say I meet with a client and they don’t want to tell me that they’ve worked without authorization in the United States. They’re married to a US citizen. Well, that can be forgiven if the green card is approved. But if you don’t know that, and if you don’t know what you don’t know, you might lie, as a potential client of ours wanted to do, about working without permission. They didn’t want to get their boss in trouble. They didn’t want to get in trouble for tax problems, but you can get in much more trouble, and get your green card denied, if you lie about it. So that’s just one example of the kinds of things that screw people up.
So, we’re always looking at the I-130, we’re looking at the 45. We’re trying to figure out how do we answer this question, how do we answer that question? We spend a lot of time thinking through, both at the time of filing and prior to the interview about each question. Right? And so, there are a lot of things that can cause your case to be denied, but being disorganized, not filing a strong case, not submitting enough evidence, and then poorly preparing for your interview, not being ready for officer questions.
I was preparing a couple yesterday for an interview and the green card application has a lot of these sort of gotcha questions. Have you ever been a terrorist or a drug dealer or are you coming to be a prostitute? All those things. There are a lot more of those questions on the 45 than there used to be. And if English is not your first language, there are a lot of complex legal words or old legal words, like habitual drunkard, or other strange words that you’ll find on forms. And you might not be used to hearing those questions. So, it’s one thing to read, but it’s another thing to hear the questions out loud. So, we’ve been practicing with our clients to do those questions out loud so that they are well prepared for the interview. So these are all the kinds of ways that we see people’s cases going off the rails.
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