As an attorney practicing in the increasingly complex and competitive field of Immigration Law, I try to keep abreast of what legal issues other attorneys are talking about in the newspapers. While most of what I see is well-written and sound advice, I am frequently astonished, and even embarrassed, at the lack of ingenuity I see in some articles claiming absolute miracles from what most law offices would consider only garden variety routine cases, i.e., making only a telephone call to the Embassy in order to ensure an immigrant’s arrival in the United States prior to their twenty-first birthday. Some think there is a sucker born every minute in the Philippines. The only true way to help clients facing the complex maze of visa processing, removal proceedings, and naturalization is through experience, dedication, knowledge and just plain old hard work.
In the past year, our office has prevailed in obtaining visas for hundreds of people, including problematic cases in which an initial application was refused before the client retained my office. I am not speaking of the myriad cases where our office has obtained a visa just in time for an immigrant to arrive in the United States before their twenty-first birthday. At the last count, our office had obtained 26 visas before an immigrant “aged-out” in the past year alone. I am speaking of the truly difficult cases, where we successfully obtained a visa when the situation looked hopeless.
Recently, a client of mine was interviewed in the Unites States Embassy in his native country for a visa he obtained as the spouse of a United States citizen. The client had previously entered the United States as the fiancée of a different United States Citizen, but failed to marry that woman when the relationship broke down. Due to the incorrect advice of another attorney, the Immigrant had filed for “adjustment of status” based on his new marriage. After waiting nearly two years, he came to see me and I informed him that he was never eligible to get his green card in the US, since he did not marry the fiancée visa petitioner.
When he went abroad, the Embassy thought the immigrant was engaged in a scheme in which he had used another petitioner merely to enter the United States, only to marry his true fiancée. Foreseeing this concern, I took special care to establish for the bona fides of my clients’ marriage, and argued that but for the bad advice of the prior attorney, my client would have left the country to obtain his visa earlier. After one long telephone call with Chief Consul, my client was issued the visa, and entered the United States one week later.
The INS Los Angeles has developed huge backlogs in naturalization and Adjustment of Status cases. Because of the delays, Reeves and Associates recently obtained a Federal Court Order restraining the INS from refusing to give our client who was turning 21, his green card. We obtained a fingerprint clearance from the FBI. The 20-year old had no criminal record but the INS refused to accept our clearance, and stated that “nothing could be done”, even though our client would turn twenty-one less than one week later. The INS insisted that only they could obtain the FBI clearance and it took a minimum of 120 days.
Recognizing that the INS would prevent our client from adjusting his status with his family and would suffer an irreparable harm, we requested that the Federal Court order INS to accept our fingerprint clearance. There is no law requiring the INS to obtain its own fingerprint clearance, we explained, and no logical reason for the INS not to accept the fingerprint clearance Reeves and Associates had obtained. The Judge agreed. He ordered the INS to give our client the green card by 5 p.m. that same day!
The INS has also been mean-spirited in the adjudication of Naturalization applications for male permanent residents who failed to register for Selective Service (“the draft”) between the ages of eighteen and twenty-six. The immigration law generally requires that a naturalization applicant establish “good moral character” for five years preceding his application for naturalization. The INS has a policy to deny cases in which the alien did not register before he turned twenty six until he is thirty one years of age, since they believe failure to register is “bad moral character”, and the immigrant must start establishing his good moral character all over again from the date he last could have registered — his twenty sixth birthday.
One of my clients had previously attempted to enlist in the armed forces, but was refused. Since my client had been born with a physical impediment which made him ineligible for military service. I explained this to the INS, but true to its bureaucratic indifference, the INS said the case would be denied. I did what any self-respecting lawyer should do: I took the INS to court.
In the complaint, my office asserted that the INS was following absurd policy, which failed to consider the real life situation where my client wanted to go to the army but was refused! Clearly, he was not a “draft dodger” and did not lack good moral character. After filing a lawsuit, INS quickly naturalized our client. Most aliens who did not register for the draft are in fact eligible to be naturalized. They just need a good attorney.
The foregoing represent a few cases our office has handled recently. We generally do not make a big deal out of simple victories involving visa applications in the newspapers. We are always prepared to go the extra mile to win our clients’ cases.