Blog archive for category General

SDP&A attorneys to attend AILA EB5 Investors and Regional Centers Conference

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SDP&A attorneys Scott D. Pollock and Christina Murdoch will attend the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) EB5 Investors and Regional Centers Conference.  The two day conference will take place in the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel on August 22 and 23.  This conference is for attorneys representing individual investors and regional centers and those who want to break into or advance in this area.  Panels led by attorneys, and featuring economists and securities lawyers, will discuss issues such as Targeted Employment Areas (TEAs), Security Compliance, Econometric Models, Regional Center Affiliations, Exit Strategies, among others.

© 2014 Scott D. Pollock & Associates, P.C.

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For questions and/or to arrange a consultation with one of our attorneys, please call (312) 444-1940 or send us an e-mail atinfo@lawfirm1.com.  You may also visit our Contact Us page for more detailed contact information.

Disclaimer

The materials contained in this website have been prepared by Scott D. Pollock & Associates, P.C. for informational purposes only and are not legal advice or counsel.

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Scott D. Pollock recognized for his participation in AILA committee

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Scott D. Pollock was recognized by AILA’s outgoing President Douglas Stump for serving as Vice Chair of Student and Scholars Committee during the 2013-2014 term.  The AILA Student and Scholars Committee works on issues affecting international students and scholars.  Mr. Stump commented, “Together we have accomplished great things as we worked to advance our mission, and serve our members, our clients, and by extension, our communities.”  He added, “I am proud to call myself a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association and I am equally proud of volunteer leaders such as you.”

© 2014 Scott D. Pollock & Associates, P.C.

Contact Us

For questions and/or to arrange a consultation with one of our attorneys, please call (312) 444-1940 or send us an e-mail atinfo@lawfirm1.com.  You may also visit our Contact Us page for more detailed contact information.

Disclaimer

The materials contained in this website have been prepared by Scott D. Pollock & Associates, P.C. for informational purposes only and are not legal advice or counsel.

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Marriage-Based Green Card Interviews-Not to be Taken for Granted

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by Christina Murdoch

All people applying for a green card from within the United States based on marriage to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident must attend an interview at a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office with their spouse.  The purpose of these interviews is primarily to determine if the marriage was made in good faith, that is was not for the sole purpose of getting a green card for the foreign national spouse.  Couples who have married in good faith may assume that this interview will be no problem and that, as the immigration service is supposed to ask them questions any legitimately married couple would know about each other, they will be able to answer with ease.  For many couples this is true, and the interview is a routine matter.  But for others, the interview is a more difficult experience and the questions asked are better described as things a legitimately married couple might know about each other rather than things they would always know.

There are essentially two types of marriage-based green card interviews that the immigration service conducts.  The simpler kind is a short interview of the couple together in which the interviewing officer asks them some basic questions about their relationship such as when and how they met, when they got engaged, etc.  The more complicated kind is known as a Stokes interview.  In these interviews the couple is questioned separately, and the interviewing officer compares their answers to make sure they are consistent.  These interviews are longer, the questions asked are more detailed and demanding, and the couple may be asked to read and sign separate written statements under oath documenting what they have said.  Often these written statements are used as a basis to deny the green card application.

When are Stokes interviews conducted?

Stokes interviews are usually conducted when the immigration service is suspicious that the marriage is not bona fide.  This can happen because of significant differences in the couple’s background, education, religion, culture, or age.  It can also happen because an initial interview or documents given to the immigration service in support of the green card application disclosed discrepancies in a couple’s explanation of their relationship.  If a couple is being re-interviewed, there is a high likelihood that the second interview will be a Stokes interview.  To prevent a Stokes interview, couples are well advised to hire a good immigration lawyer who will review their supporting documents to make sure they are consistent and who will adequately prepare them for any issues or difficult questions that may come up in an initial interview.

Preparing for a Stokes interview

If a couple suspects that a Stokes interview is likely, they should not assume that they are well-prepared simply because they have a legitimate marriage.  Some questions that are asked at a Stokes interview can be surprisingly difficult, even for bona fide couples to answer, if they are not prepared in advance for what might be asked.  For example, officers often ask couples what they did the night before the interview.  Many people could easily answer this question, but when couples are living busy lives, the activities of one particular evening may slip their mind.  Officers also sometimes ask people how many rooms are in their house or to describe particular rooms.  This question could easily trip up someone who is uninterested in the interior design of their home and who has lived there for years without thinking in detail about how many rooms it has or what those rooms look like.  Other common questions in Stokes interviews are requests to name certain relatives of your spouse (i.e. parents, siblings) and to say where they live or to provide the name and address of the employer of your spouse.  In addition to being prepared for the questioning of a Stokes interview, couples anticipating such an interview should be prepared to be asked to sign a written statement under oath.  Signing such a statement is a serious business because it is very difficult to later take back something signed to in these statements.  Therefore, before signing one, you must read every word of the statement and make sure you understand everything in the statement.  If anything in the statement is incorrect, you must insist that it be changed, and, if the officer refuses to change it, you must refuse to sign the statement.  Because of the need to prepare carefully for Stokes interviews and the fact that such interviews are evidence that the immigration service is suspicious of the marriage, representation by a good lawyer during Stokes interviews is essential.

© 2014 Scott D. Pollock & Associates, P.C.

Contact Us

For questions and/or to arrange a consultation with one of our attorneys, please call (312) 444-1940 or send us an e-mail at info@lawfirm1.com.  You may also visit our Contact Us page for more detailed contact information.

Disclaimer

The materials contained in this website have been prepared by Scott D. Pollock & Associates, P.C. for informational purposes only and are not legal advice or counsel.

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Marriage-Based Applications for Adjustment of Status: Avoiding Mistakes

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by Christina Murdoch

Applications for green cards, also known as applications for adjustment of status, based on marriage to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident are one of the most common types of applications for immigration benefits that are filed.  Many married couples assume that because they are in love and in a good marriage, the application process will be simple and straightforward.  But it is less straightforward than it at first appears and failure to properly prepare can cause even legitimate couples to experience problems including long delays in the application process and, even worse, denial of the green card application.  Some of the common mistakes are as follows:

Failing to document the good faith nature of the marriage

It is not enough simply to show that you are married to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident to get a green card based on the marriage.  You also have to show that you married in good faith, which means that you married planning to spend the rest of your life with your spouse and not just to get a green card.  Sometimes couples will provide the immigration service with only their marriage certificate and proof that one of the spouses is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.  This will almost certainly lead to the immigration service asking for more information and will delay a decision on the application.  All applications for adjustment of status based on marriage need to include documents showing the applicant is in a legitimate marriage with his or her spouse, such as proof of a shared home and shared bills for living expenses.

“Creating” documents to show that you married in good faith

Documents used to show a good faith marriage should be documents that you naturally acquire during the course of your marriage as part of your life together.  With the exception of support letters from friends and family who know of your marriage, there is no need, nor is it helpful, to “create” evidence of a good faith marriage that would not have existed had you or your spouse not been applying for a green card.  For example, if you and your spouse prefer to bank separately and were not planning to have a joint checking account, you should not open one just so you have documents to show a good faith marriage.  Such an account is unlikely to be used often, and bank accounts that are rarely used are considered suspicious by the immigration service.  Use instead documents showing joint accounts or joint purchases you were planning to establish or make with your spouse regardless of your immigration situation.  All legitimately married couples will have some evidence of their life together, and there is no single document that is required to prove a good faith marriage.  Focus on what you have and not on what you do not.

Failing to be prepared to answer questions about a previous marriage

If an applicant for adjustment of status has been married to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident before, he or she must be prepared to show the immigration service that that marriage as well as his or her current marriage was made in good faith.  If a person has married with the sole purpose of getting a green card through the marriage, they are not allowed to ever adjust their status.  This is true even if they never ended up applying for a green card through the previous marriage and even if their current marriage is legitimate.  So the immigration service will often ask applicants who have been married before to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident about that marriage and why it ended.  It is a good idea to be prepared to give the immigration service documents showing that this earlier marriage was also made in good faith, especially if it was a short marriage that did not result in children.

Hiding unusual living situations or a separation

This is a very bad idea.  If you claim to have lived together the entire time since your marriage and you have not, this is a red flag to the immigration service that your marriage is not legitimate.  And the immigration service finds out when couples have spent part of their married life living in different locations.  They often use public records searches to figure out where an applicant or his or her spouse has really been living.  The fact that you and your spouse have been separated or have kept different residences for some reason – such as one spouse having an out of town job – does not disqualify you from showing you married in good faith.  These situations should be disclosed up front and explained.  If this is done, approval of the application is often possible.  If it is not, and the immigration service discovers on its own that you and your spouse have been living apart, you are unlikely to ever get them to believe any explanation you provide after the fact, and a denial of the application is highly likely.

Because marriage-based adjustment applications are not as straightforward as they appear, it is an excellent idea to have a qualified immigration lawyer help you with the process.  A good lawyer can help you deal with all of the issues discussed above.  They can give advice on how to appropriately document the good faith nature of the marriage as well as any previous marriages and on how to avoid misunderstandings with the immigration service that could lead to a denial.

© 2014 Scott D. Pollock & Associates, P.C.

Contact Us

For questions and/or to arrange a consultation with one of our attorneys, please call (312) 444-1940 or send us an e-mail at info@lawfirm1.com.  You may also visit our Contact Us page for more detailed contact information.

Disclaimer

The materials contained in this website have been prepared by Scott D. Pollock & Associates, P.C. for informational purposes only and are not legal advice or counsel.

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Statement from the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA)

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The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) has issued a wonderful, well researched and considered statement on the need to uphold the U.S.’s commitment to humanitarian protection of children fleeing dangers in their home countries. Scott D. Pollock & Associates, P.C. is proud to be part of such a vital association.  Complete statement can be viewed here.

© 2014 Scott D. Pollock & Associates, P.C.

Contact Us

For questions and/or to arrange a consultation with one of our attorneys, please call (312) 444-1940 or send us an e-mail atinfo@lawfirm1.com.  You may also visit our Contact Us page for more detailed contact information.

Disclaimer

The materials contained in this website have been prepared by Scott D. Pollock & Associates, P.C. for informational purposes only and are not legal advice or counsel.