At Lear & Lear, our team of immigration attorneys and paraprofessionals consists of, mostly, immigrants. That means that besides having the legal expertise to help you in your immigration case, our attorneys and paraprofessionals have been in your shoes and understand your concerns and goals.
“Do I need an immigration attorney?” you might ask. The answer is simple. Immigration laws do not require you to have an attorney to submit any type of application. However, not hiring an experienced immigration attorney as a way to save money can jeopardize your chances of getting your visa approved. Let me give you a few examples of recent cases we worked on that could have ended badly without our help. Note: we have changed clients’ names to protect their privacy.
Green Card application prepared by applicant’s friend receives Notice of Intent to Deny
Earlier this year, we were contacted by Dorothy. A widow, Dorothy, came to us after she received a NOID - Notice of Intent to Deny on her family-based green card application. She had initially filed her application with the help of a friend. “My friend knows a lot about immigration. She’s not an attorney but she worked on her own green card case.” (Sound familiar?) Without having gone through a proper case evaluation, she filed her case not knowing what documents were missing. The NOID contained specific instructions from the immigration officer concerning missing documentation and a very tight deadline. As experienced attorneys, we knew time was of the essence as we needed to obtain official certificates from different U.S. states. With the help of our network of attorneys located in other parts of the country, we were able to send our response to the NOID before the deadline. Next, to our surprise, we received another Request of Evidence. This time, it was for a form that had been filled out incorrectly. Because our client did not have a complete copy of her green card packet, we never got a chance to review her forms to address any possible issues preemptively. We had to rely on requests from USCIS. This time, Dorothy needed a substitute sponsor. The letter clearly stated that unless she submitted the necessary financial documentation from a substitute financial sponsor, her green card request would be denied. Based on our experience, we knew her case did not require a substitute sponsor. The immigration officer was wrong in their analysis of Dorothy’s case. We drafted our answer and USCIS accepted it. Again, the client received another request from USCIS, this time a much less complicated one that we were able to address in a few days and, lo and behold, her green card was finally approved.
This client, who initially decided to forego hiring an attorney to save money and used the help of a friend, ended up almost having her green card application denied and spent two times more than what would have cost her to have an attorney take care of her case from the outset.
Student visa request for family of four denied after no response received for Request for Evidence
Susan came to us after receiving a denial on her change of status case. She had come to the U.S. on a tourist visa with her husband and two kids and then filed a request for change of status. Susan had initially hired the services of an immigration consulting firm to help her change her status to study in the U.S. The immigration consulting firm never added their contact information to the change of status form so they never received a copy of the Request for Evidence. You see, as attorneys, we always file, with every case, Form G-28 - Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Legal Representative. By submitting this form, we always receive a copy of every notice sent to our clients. Because there was no G-28 in Susan’s case, the firm she had hired - and paid! - to take care of her case never received the request. After the deadline to send an answer had passed, Susan received a letter of denial stating that she should leave the country immediately or file an appeal in 33 days. Susan and her family were devastated. They thought they had done everything right by deciding to hire a consulting firm to help them. Susan came to us and we filed within a week a Motion to Reopen her case. The motion was accepted and her case reopened. A few weeks after that, she received a copy of the RFE and was able to finally send all the additional documentation necessary for her case to be approved.
Removal of Green Card Conditions rejected due to incorrect USCIS fee
A couple of weeks ago, we received a frantic call from Janet. Janet had decided to submit her application to remove the conditions of her and her child’s green cards by herself. She submitted the correct form not knowing that she was including the incorrect fee. Months went by after she had mailed her application and nothing, she never received a receipt notice from USCIS. She noticed that USCIS had never charged her credit card the fee amount included in Form G-1450. Now, her green card had already expired. In our initial consultation, we were able to immediately assess what was wrong with her application. In less than a week, Janet’s new green card application was sent to USCIS and within a couple of days, she received her new case number on her cellphone.
Wrong petition filed to renew soon-to-expire Green Card
David contacted us via WhatsApp after receiving a Notice of Denial on his wife’s green card renewal. He was sad and embarrassed, and, needless to say, his wife was not pleased at what had happened. David thought the USCIS website was clear enough when he chose to renew his wife’s soon-to-expire green card using Form I-90 - Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card. However, he was not aware that his wife had a conditional green card and such conditions had to be removed prior to its expiration. Now, her green card had been expired for over two years and his petition had been denied. “What am I to do? Will my wife have to leave the country?” Besides explaining what the law is in our initial consultations, it is also our job to assure clients that, if that is the case, not all is lost and that we can certainly help. We filed the right petition and included an affidavit of support from David explaining the situation and asking USCIS to accept the petition even though over two years had passed since his wife’s green card had expired. USCIS accepted the new petition, and David’s wife forgave him for causing the whole ordeal.
USCIS incorrectly processed the priority date in Asylum case
Major delays are quite common in most USCIS cases but what Robert did not expect was to have to wait one year instead of six months to qualify for a work permit. Robert has a pending asylum request which we sent to USCIS before the one-year deadline for those types of cases. On average, it takes 4-6 months for us to receive a receipt notice on asylum cases. Robert’s receipt notice came at around the 6-month mark which is when an asylum applicant becomes eligible for an EAD - Employment Authorization Document. However, Robert’s receipt notice contained the incorrect priority date. USCIS considered his priority date the date they processed his asylum packet, and not the date USCIS had received it. The difference was nearly 6 months. We drafted a letter to the USCIS Director requesting a change in the priority date to reflect the correct receipt date and included proof of delivery (it is our standard practice to keep copies of everything from complete copies of packets sent to USCIS to delivery confirmation receipts). USCIS accepted our request and Robert was considered eligible to receive a work permit while waiting for the adjudication of his asylum case.
Unfortunately, not all cases end up as success stories. Some mistakes simply cannot be fixed, especially after a case has been denied or terminated.
As experienced immigration attorneys and paraprofessionals, it is our job to:
correctly assess cases during the initial interview and provide client with all necessary legal information to make informed decisions
make sure that the latest forms are being used (old forms can lead to your case being rejected)
check forms fees and send the correct payment (incorrect payment leads to petition being denied)
weekly check the status of our client’s cases to make sure we respond to requests timely and keep our clients informed of case updates
inform clients of the right documents needed for each case (the Department of State has very specific guidelines as to what documents are accepted to prove parental rights or establish divorces or adoptions for purposes of immigration benefits, for example)
inform clients of processing times and their chances of getting their cases approved
anticipate possible issues to make sure those are addressed early on in the case or avoided altogether
answer clients’ inquiries and questions promptly and timely
make sure our clients’ dreams come true and goals are achieved
If you need help with your immigration case or would like to know what your options are, give us a call today at 384-334-4030 or schedule a consultation online athttps://www.skvlegal.com/book-online to speak with one of our attorneys or paralegals. We offer consultations in English, Portuguese and Spanish.