What are trends in USCIS and Department of State visa decisions, and how can I get legal advice?
January 23, 2019
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Article by Scott D. Pollock & Associates, P.C.
January 23, 2019
Trends in USCIS and Department of State visa decisions and how to get good legal advice and help
Scott, what have you seen recently when immigrants apply for visas or lawful status in the U.S.?
Getting lawful status in the U.S. has always been difficult. But, with new policies like Buy American Hire American and extreme vetting, we see more Requests for Evidence (RFE’s), Notices of Intent to Deny (NOIDs) and denials from both applicants outside and inside the U.S. USCIS and the State Department deny approvable cases because they’ve been told denials will protect U.S. workers. I think the opposite is true – immigration continues to benefit U.S. business and workers. So more people and businesses are asking us what can be done.
So, what can be done? What should people do to prepare their cases and address problems when they come up?
It’s important to know the legal requirements for any visa or lawful status, and present relevant and sufficient evidence to meet each of the requirements stated in the statute or regulations. Now we need to present even more evidence and argue to the agencies and the federal courts why the case must be approved, and how a particular denial in fact violates the law.
What can a company or person do in case they receive an agency Request for Evidence, Notice of Intent to Deny or a denial?
Each case is different. Some agencies, like U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services, will have an internal process available, like a motion to reopen or reconsider, or an appeal to an administrative appeals office to review a decision. Others, like U.S. Consulates abroad, or certain cases where the U.S. Customs & Border Protection turns someone with a visa away, have to be challenged either informally or sometimes by suing the agency in federal court.
Is it possible to successfully sue the Government? Won’t that lead to possible retaliation or other harmful treatment later on?
It is possible to sue the Government and win. And, in over 30 years of practice, I have not once had a client retaliated against. In fact, I’ve seen just the opposite. In most cases, our clients are treated with greater respect and get more consideration, because the government knows that it will have to defend a weak decision in court if we are involved.
How does someone find an effective and reputable immigration attorney?
Personal referrals are often effective, but don’t rely entirely on someone else’s experience. Do serious research and talk with a number of attorneys. The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and local bar associations have referral services. All of the attorneys in our firm are actively involved in AILA. Read online reviews, assess the attorney’s experience and reputation. Different attorneys approach the same case differently. Compare the information you get. You should learn what are the issues and obstacles, and what an appropriate strategy for your case is. See which attorney is a good fit for you.
Do you have any other tips for people or companies needing immigration services?
Get a written agreement that says what the attorney will do and how she will charge you, by time or project. Ask if you will get copies of the attorney’s work product as the case proceeds- at my firm, we provide representation agreements, copies of all documents, and monthly account statements to our clients. Be sure your attorney is a good communicator and available. You should understand as much as your attorney about your case. Don’t trust an attorney who says she has connections or special access to Government officials. They are either lying or setting you up for big problems in the future. Immigration is a tough field. If an attorney’s promises seem too good to be true, you should not work with that attorney. With the right attorney, hopefully the Government will approve your case without too much work. But be prepared for a fight with a trustworthy attorney on your side. Persistence often pays off in the end.