For Individuals Who Want To Come And Stay In The U.S.
Will USCIS Take Away My Benefit When Applying for a New One?
Is USCIS going back to look at all the applications to try to take away immigration benefits? Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States at our office here in St. Louis, Missouri.
I am taking off my mask because I’m coming out of coronavirus isolation for long time. Viewers know that I’ve been down in the basement for a while now with a COVID positive test result, trying to keep the rest of the family safe, and knock on wood so far it’s worked.
So, I’ve been thinking about an interview that I had in Virginia last week, right before Thanksgiving. And when we met with the officer, this was a naturalization case and it was a tough naturalization case. And one of the things that occurred to me or that I noticed during the interview was that the officer mentioned that he had taken a look at the Green Card and made sure that that was okay.
Here we were applying for citizenship, and he talked about our client’s wife’s case and about our client’s case and talked about how the fact that the officer had actually gone back to figure out whether or not the Green Card case was in any kind of jeopardy.
Now, I have long suspected for the last four or five years that USCIS is going back, and not necessarily trying to determine whether or not you get the benefit for which you’ve now applied, but also go back and see if you deserved the benefits that you’ve already received. So, we’ve seen people apply for citizenship and have the officer go back to look at whether they ever should have gotten their Green Card in the first place or whether they should have gotten asylum in the first place. It’s a whole new shooting match when it comes to USCIS.
And this was the very first time that I had an officer actually say out loud that that’s what he did. Now, this officer was, A, very nice and, B, very verbal. He was very communicative. He allowed me and wanted me to participate, which I did, and actually think my participation helps get the case ultimately approved, which we found out today. But that’s not the point of the video. The point of the video is that USCIS is undoubtedly going back to look at whether or not you deserve the benefits that you’ve already received.
I was thinking about this because my daughter got a 16 out of 20 on her math test the other day. And the teacher said, “Well, you can go back and retake the test, but if you score worse than 16, then you’re going to be stuck with the new score.” She had to do the math and do the calculations and figure out whether or not she wanted to retake the test or not.
Now, I think that same principle sort of applies here. You need to be real sure that you were deserving of the benefits that you received originally. And I think this is a rule that’s here to stay. I don’t think that the new administration is going to change this. I think we’re going to continue to see USCIS officers, at least for the foreseeable future, go back and figure out whether or not the original benefits that you received you were entitled to. So, it makes cases a lot harder and it makes close calls a little bit more difficult when you’re trying to figure out whether or not to go ahead and apply for citizenship or some other benefit because they’re going back to look at everything that you’ve ever done.
And I think that’s here to stay. They’re going back, looking at how you got to the United States in the first place, what kind of a Visa you got, what you applied for, what you told the State Department when you got that Visa. They’re really going back all the way back to your original immigration history.
So, if you noticed, when I do a consult or when I talk to people on our new Immigration Answers live show, I really spend a lot of time going back, “How did you get here? When did you get here? What did you do? What are all the details of your immigration history?” Because now more than ever that stuff’s really important. If you’re thinking about applying for an immigration benefit, you want to make sure that you have deserved all the benefits that you received, that you don’t have any problems with your past. And you might want to either try to clean things up before you apply for new benefit or do a Freedom of Information Act request to get your old file. Because what you don’t want to do is file an application that’s going to put you in trouble. And that’s one of the things that we’re really trying to avoid.
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