When “Easy” Immigration Cases get Difficult

People often contact us saying that they have an “easy” immigration case, but they have just run into a snag.

Now they need help.

Things get stressful when items such as work permits, travel documents, green cards and citizenship papers are not issued.

Here is what you need to understand:

based on my more than two decades of experience on several thousand immigration cases, every immigration case has the potential to become difficult due to unseen circumstance, or misunderstanding. Often the case got complicated or difficult through NO FAULT OF THE PERSON INVOLVED. If you are wondering about your own situation, here are the top five ways that immigration cases get complicated really fast.

5 Ways that an Easy Immigration Case Becomes Difficult:

  1. There is no such thing as an “easy” immigration case.
    Do not fool yourself.  I know that we all know those who “did their papers on their own,” but I question that approach.  I practice law as my career but I do not do my own real estate closings or estate planning.  I stick to what I know.  It is a more effective use of your time to do the same. During my time in immigration law, I would say that for every do-it-yourselfer who succeeded, I have seen hundreds of folks who could not get it done without proper legal counsel experienced in immigration law.

  2.  Misinterpretation of the law.
    This area ranks high as a big problem with Immigration Service cases.  For that matter, it also causes problems in Immigration  Court.  Applications that appear easy often have resulted in denials.  Now a team of immigration attorneys is needed to file Motions to Reopen and/or  Appeals, which are time-consuming affairs, to convince the authorities of their errors.  We prepare many such legal arguments with thorough research.

  3. File gets transferred.
    This situation concerns me, not because it is truly a legal problem, but simply due to time delays.  These are the matters in which immigrants – and their American family or employers – need attentive immigration counselors to take serious steps to get an answer.  One option is to go into federal court to argue that the government has exceeded reasonable times to complete cases. And it all seemed so easy . . .

  4. File gets lost.
    Repeatedly, it happens.  When I started out in the mid-90s, I recall a prosecutor on an immigration case showing me a printout that my client was categorized in a computer under “FILE STATUS: LOST.”  Today we often speak to officers at Customs and Border Protection, or Immigration and Customs Enforcement, who tell us that databases contain missing information that make it appear that our clients have problems with the law. This flaw in the machine frustrates everyone, especially when we (easily) produce hard copies of evidence to prove that our immigrant clients have conformed to instructions and rules of law.  Direct attorney inquiry remains the best way to secure case resolution.

  5. Officer in charge of case leaves their post for another department.
    I consult with a never-ending “line” of immigrants who cannot find the underlying cause of problems in their “easy’ cases.  They have already used Immigration Service mechanisms designed to help the public, such as INFOPASS and the National Toll Free Hotline.  But nobody can answer their questions satisfactorily.  When we get into the cases, we learn quickly that the file is at a Records Center instead of an Adjudications Unit.  Why?  Well, it seems that the last officer who possessed the folder departed.  Thus, the file was just put away.

Look, I am not saying that the above scenarios are rampant problems.

However, they are quite commonplace.

“Nothing Is Easy” – Jethro Tull

Written by: Harlan York

Immigration Attorney Harlan York is Former Chair, Immigration Section, NJ State Bar Association and Former Co-Chair, NY State Bar Association CFLS Immigration Committee. Mr. York appeared on National Television on CBS This Morning with Charlie Rose and Primer Impacto on Univision, as well as Telemundo, NBC, and PBS. He was honored as First Ever Immigration Lawyer of The Year in NJ by Best Lawyers.

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