An Ounce Of Prevention Is Worth A Pound Of Cure


For months now I have been telling my readers to take their immigration situation into their hands and do something about it while it is still within their control. Unfortunately, not all immigration issues can be resolved without disrupting your lives. Even in these cases, however, it is important to understand your situation. Consider the following two examples.

Ms. A came to my office for a consultation and requested that I review the N-400 form (application for naturalization) she had prepared herself. It is not my practice to pick-up where another attorney left off or to review and “bless” forms completed by a lay person. I explained this to Ms. A. She did not need nor want to retain an attorney; all she wanted was for me to review her form for completeness. As her consultation was scheduled to last one hour and only 20 minutes had passed, I decided to review the portion of the N -400 form that is usually the source of many denial letters from USCIS. I asked Ms. A specific questions, the answers to which alerted me to the fact that she had completed the N-400 inaccurately. Several years ago, Ms. A applied for and received public assistance. The fact that she received public assistance did not make Ms. A ineligible to naturalize, i.e., become a U.S citizen; however, the fact that she had provided false information on the application would have likely caused her more trouble than she ever anticipated. USCIS has access to various databases and can obtain public records, lease information, credit card applications, and information used to apply for public assistance. Inconsistencies between your petition and other information can lead to your petition being denied and worse.

Had Ms. A filed her N-400 form, it is my belief that USCIS likely would have discovered her fraudulent responses and notified the Department of Homeland Security of the fraud. Unlike many crimes, there is no statute of limitations of Medicaid fraud and if convicted, Ms. A stood the risk of being imprisoned for up to five years and being subject to a $5000 fine. In addition, Ms. A’s application to naturalize would likely have been denied on the basis that she did not exhibit “good moral character” within the requisite period. The fraud would carry less weight if it were outside the statutory five-year period that USCIS considers.

Next, Mr. and Mrs. B came to my office seeking advice regarding how Mr. B could sponsor Mrs. B. Mrs. B came to the United States on a C visa and was in transit to another country when she decided to remain in the U.S. Mrs. B’s visa was issues, however, for the sole purpose of allowing her to catch a connecting flight to another country and was good for a limited time. Ordinarily, unlawful spouses of US citizens and permanent residents residing here in the United States are eligible to obtain permanent resident status without having to first depart the country to apply for an immigrant visa. The lawful status requirement and unauthorized employment bar does not ordinarily apply to these spouses. There is, however, an exception to this exception. There are certain classes of individuals who may not remain here in the United States to adjust status to lawful permanent after/by marrying a U.S citizen or permanent resident. For example, holders of C visas must leave the country and re-enter after their sponsorship paperwork has been approved. To be clear, this is the case even where the sponsor is a U.S citizen spouse. Therefore, Mrs. B would have no choice but to depart the US and return when her sponsorship paperwork was approved.

I advised the couple that Mrs. B had no choice but to depart the country. I also counseled them about filing for a particular visa along with the usual sponsorship paperwork in order for them to be reunited sooner rather than later. Alternatively, the couple could wait for the passage of expected regulations that would allow Mrs. B to obtain a “waiver” to return to the U.S faster than under the current law. I have not heard from the couple and imagine that they decided to take no action at the present time.

Most immigration attorneys that I know, myself included, will not take your case if they feel certain that your application will be denied or that you are statutorily ineligible for the relief you are seeking. When in doubt speak with more than one attorney. Listen to the advice that the attorney is giving to you and do not be afraid to share what knowledge of the law you possess by way of your own research or from the other consultations you have had.
In my practice, I discuss with my clients the feasibility and type of petition that is appropriate. I prepare the required forms and assist them with the collection of extensive supporting documentation. Once all of the supporting documents have been collected, I file my clients’ petitions with USCIS. By overseeing the entire process, the attorney can ensure petitions and applications are submitted timely and are in the best shape to be granted. You and your loved one would be best served by an attorney who is experienced in immigration matters.

Call us at (678) 705-5409.