I’m not usually this bossy unless I’m talking to my kids and ok, maybe my husband…sometimes.
But what my immigration law firm has been seeing in the last six months makes me want to sound the alarm.
According to the Cato Institute, USCIS denials have increased by a whopping 37%. The article sites new data from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). “The data for the first nine months of Fiscal Year (FY) 2018, which started in October 2017, show that denials for all manner of immigration benefits—travel documents, work permits, green cards, worker petitions, etc.—increased 37 percent since FY 2016.” Check out the full article here.
We’ve been seeing it too. There has been a rise in initial consultations where the client has received a denial, Notice of Intent to Deny or if the client is lucky, a Request for Evidence.
Let me give you an example of what I’m talking about. John files a marriage-based case for his wife, Radlyn, so she can receive lawful permanent resident status in the U.S. Among the documents required in the I-130 petition is a divorce decree. He forgets to put the divorce decree in the filing. But everything else is there, including the $1760 USCIS filing fee (for a step-by-step explanation of a marriage-based case, see my article here – link to article no website about this).
Instead of giving a self-filer like John a chance to submit his divorce decree, USCIS can issue a denial of the whole case.
What happens if you get a denial in the scenario above?
– your spouse could fall out of status
– you just lost $1760 in filing fees
– your spouse could be referred to the immigration judge for removal proceedings – this is a worse-case scenario situation but it can happen.
“But I can’t afford a lawyer,” is what you’re telling yourself.
But the reality is, with denials ramped up, that you can’t afford to not hire an immigration lawyer to guide you.
Your spouse could’ve had a work permit by now and gotten a job. You now have to shell out another $1760 in filing fees, because with a denial, you lose the fees. Maybe your spouse is going to have to hire an immigration lawyer for their removal proceedings that she now finds herself in. Hello and goodbye to at least $10K.
Not to mention the stress. Oh the stress we’ve seen firsthand when straightforward immigration cases go bad.
How much is peace of mind worth anyway?
Did I tell you about that time that I sprained my ankle? It was a bad sprain that happened on a Saturday. My 13-year old and her bestie had to pick me up off of the grass in my backyard to help me back in the house. I was shaking and my ankle immediately swelled up almost twice the size of the other one.
The next day, I went to an urgent care and requested a boot so I could walk around, only because I had to give a speech on Monday in federal court, and I could barely put any weight on this foot. I got the boot, did the speech and a few days later put the boot in the closet and limped everywhere I went. Two weeks later, my ankle was still swollen. Was this normal I asked myself? I then asked Google. I typed stuff in like “how long does your ankle stay swollen after a sprain”, “should I be putting ice on my ankle two weeks later,” “can I exercise with a sprained ankle”.
All that kept coming up was “RICE.” I love rice, but I hated this answer – rest, ice, compression, elevation. Yeh, yeh, I did that already. Google could not answer my questions. I then asked friends, “what should I do”, “should I stay off of it”, “do you think I can run”? How were they supposed to know? Even if a friend had experience with a sprained ankle, everyone had different advice for me. Then after 3-4 days of this asking around, I asked the moms at the bus stop. One of them said she studied history so no help there. The other said her husband is an orthopedic surgeon and that I should go see him.
A surgeon? What the? This seemed like overkill to me. It was a sprained ankle; nothing serious enough to see some specialist doctor. But I did it. I had my life to live. I was tired of wondering and worrying. I have a high co-pay insurance, so I knew this was going to cost me. I actually don’t know how insurance works, I just know I get a fat bill every time I go to any doctor.
I got some great advice from Dr. B. He was knowledgeable, friendly and gave me a plan of action for my ankle to heal faster. He told me to go to physical therapy and wear a brace. Yes, I could exercise and coach the team as long as I had the brace on. And yes, I still needed to ice it and take anti-inflammatories. Dr. B said, “you will heal in three weeks now instead of 3 months.”
It was just a sprained ankle, but I finally had peace of mind. I could coach my kid’s Girls on the Run team and run that 10K I signed up for. I was done worrying.
Does what I did with my ankle sound familiar to what you did with your immigration case? You went on the internet, you asked friends. You got some answers maybe, but you certainly didn’t get exactly what you have to do in order to avoid a denial and a massive delay in your case, in your life.