The American Dream, 4th of July and Immigration Law

Thursday, July 30, 2015 | Last Updated: July 25, 2015
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The Fourth of July (or Independence Day), may have come and gone, but many people are still celebrating the opportunities they have found in the United States. They are celebrating the result of all the hard work they put in, and the long wait they had to endure before being granted a visa, or residency, or even naturalization. For those who immigrated to America, July means not only means celebrating freedom and independence but it’s also a month to celebrate the American Dream, and this month, we’re reflecting on that dream.

For each of us, the American Dream means something a little different. There are people who want to live happy, healthy, and fulfilling lives. Others who want the best education and a job to match. There are those who want to make a difference in their communities, and help others achieve their own dreams. For others still, they want to live in an amazing home, drive a fast car, and live a life they could never have anywhere else. No matter what your dreams are, they all come back to pursuing opportunities that allow us to find what makes us happy.

You may have heard the American Dream has changed. That it isn’t what it used to be or that it’s a myth. The notion of the American Dream has been around for hundreds of years. The idea alone is what brought millions of people to the United States from all over the world — and continues to do so today. The American Dream has changed over time, but from watching our clients and the experiences of so many people, I can tell you the American Dream is real, and people are living it every day.

Those who immigrate to the United States know there is opportunity for them here. If there wasn’t, they would have gone elsewhere. Immigrants are still coming to the U.S., taking risks, leaving loved ones behind, building businesses, practicing medicine, and even creating jobs. Not only are they keeping the American Dream alive for themselves, they are keeping it alive for everyone else who has yet to start the journey.

Immigrants are one of the cornerstones of the American Dream

They helped define it years ago, and through their actions, they have kept it strong. Hard work and determination are two attributes that define so many of our clients. You can even say hard work and determination are part of the American Dream.

Achieving the American Dream is not easy. We say it all the time. Immigrating to the U.S. takes time and resolve. But those who overcome those challenges are often awarded with a certain visa, residency, or naturalization. Their lives change and even transformed for the better.

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I751 Removal of Conditions When the Marriage Has Ended

Thursday, July 30, 2015 | Last Updated: July 17, 2015
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Form I-751

Form I-751: Petition to remove conditions on residence - Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

USCIS Form I-751


The is an additional safe-guard that USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) uses to make sure that a marriage is before approval for a permanent green card. If you obtained your through marriage and had been married for less than two years when you received your green card you will have to submit an application for removal of conditions, . This allows you to obtain your “permanent” green card which is valid for ten years. For those whose marriage has since ended, this can be a confusing process. Some are not sure whether they can still file for removal of conditions.

This blog post explains why you should still file for removal of conditions and how to go about it even after your marriage has terminated.

Why You Still Need to File for Removal of the Conditions:
Even when a marriage has terminated you still must file for the removal of conditions before the expiration date written on the card. If you do not file, you will automatically lose your status on the expiration date and become removable from the U.S. Because these consequences are so severe, it is very important to file the petition before the expiration date.

How to Apply for Removal of Conditions:
Normally, when you are still married, you and your petitioner-spouse apply for the jointly, meaning that you both sign it and appear together for an interview. However, there are several circumstances where USCIS allows you to apply for a waiver of the “joint filing requirement”. One of the circumstances is where the marriage was bona fide but then later was terminated either by divorce or annulment. In this case, you will need to submit to USCIS a certified copy of the divorce judgment and or annulment. In addition, USCIS will need to see bona fides of your marriage up to the point of separation. In other words, just because the marriage may have ended, USCIS still needs to be satisfied that the marriage was still real and entered into in good faith.

divorce or an annulment?:
Some of our clients that are separating ask us whether to seek a divorce or an annulment, and whether or not it makes a difference. Although we are not divorce attorneys, for the purposes of waiving the joint filing requirement, USCIS accepts termination of a marriage by either divorce or annulment and they do not appear to be treated differently. Throughout the instructions to the Form I-751 it indicates that a conditional resident may apply for a waiver when the marriage was “terminated due to divorce or annulment”, indicating that either is acceptable.

What if the Divorce or Annulment is Not Yet Final?:
USCIS has indicated that if the divorce or annulment is not yet final, a Request for Evidence (RFE) may be issued asking for a copy of the final divorce judgment or annulment and a written statement asking to have the petition treated as a waiver of the joint filing requirement. The RFE will generally allow a response within 87 days. If the divorce or annulment becomes final during the response time then USCIS will evaluate the petition.

As always, we recommend submitting ample evidence that your marriage was real for however long it lasted. Your marriage ending should not be an obstacle to prevent you from obtaining your permanent green card.

This blog entry is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. This blog is for educational purposes only. Remember that each case is unique. If you have questions about your own immigration case, please contact our Sacramento or Santa Clara office at (916) 613-3553 or info@ranchodlaw.com to schedule a consultation.

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Success Story: Approval of I-601A for Client Brought to U.S. as a Child

Thursday, July 30, 2015 | Last Updated: June 28, 2015
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Case presented to USCIS on: January 27, 2015
RFE Issued: April 10, 2015
Responded to RFE on: May 8, 2015
Approved: June 3, 2015

Client was brought into the U.S. by his parents at the age of 2. He didn’t even realize or understand he lacked status in the U.S. until he was in high school. While in high school, he met his wife and the couple had a child and later married. We argued client’s wife would suffer if the was denied. requested additional evidence to support the case and we submitted additional statements on client and his wife’s behalf along with some additional paperwork. The case was approved less than one month after we responded to the Request For Evidence and the client and his wife are delighted client can finally work and drive legally!

Read more success stories now!

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Success Stories: Approval of the Appeal of Denial of Naturalization to Become a U.S. Citizen

Thursday, July 30, 2015 | Last Updated: June 28, 2015
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Filed: November 25, 2014
Interview: February 24, 2015
Approved: June 16, 2015

Client came to us after his application for naturalization (to become a U.S. citizen) was denied. Client’s application was denied because he was accused of committing fraud in that he was separated from his spouse at the time he filed his joint (petition to remove conditions of residence).

The truth was that while client was separated from his spouse he was still married and believed the relationship would work out. Unfortunately, there was little supporting paperwork to prove he was still in the relationship, especially since the couple was living apart. Nevertheless, we worked with the paperwork we did have and focused a large part of our argument on the fact that client had no reason to lie.

Client really believed and hoped the relationship would work out. Otherwise, since there was no question the marriage was valid in the first place, if he had been divorced he could have filed the petition on his own, without his spouse’s signature. It was a long process but client was delighted when the case was finally approved!

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Immigration Lawyer reveals a top reason for Green Card denials in Sacramento, San Francisco and San Jose

Thursday, July 30, 2015 | Last Updated: June 28, 2015
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One of the top questions I get from my marriage based clients is

Why would my case be denied?

One of the top reasons that cases are denied is because the couple fails to demonstrate that they have a bona fide relationship. However, let me be more specific. The top reason that I have found as the cause of a denial or second interview or further investigation after the interview is the failure to provide joint documents.

It is not enough to explain that you love each other.

Even if you are able to answer questions correctly at the interview, if you do not have joint documents, depending on the immigration officer, you may get called into a second interview or your case could be denied or get a Request for Evidence (RFE). If the RFE is not responded to appropriately that could result in a denial.

Why is this the case?

USCIS finds that you have the burden of proof to demonstrate you meet the legal requirements to obtain a green card.

Since they get so many fraudulent applications and applicant’s can “fake” the interview, USCIS finds that your marriage is much more likely to be “real” if you have co-mingled your funds. Thus, joint documents help demonstrate that your finances are co-mingled and your relationship is bonafide (real).

Therefore, when attending your interview, it is important that you bring your joint documents and additional documentation requested in the USCIS interview notice.

Call our office if you have questions at 916-613-3553 or email our office serving Sacramento and Santa Clara at info@ranchodlaw.com.

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How Home Country Conditions Support Hardship Waivers

Thursday, July 30, 2015 | Last Updated: July 17, 2015
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Home Country Conditions Support Hardship Waivers





I-601A Hardship Country Conditions: Video on How Country Condition are Hardship.

A hardship waiver application should explain how each and every aspect of a denial could cause exceptional hardship to the U.S. citizen. This is not limited to how the U.S. citizen’s health, finances, and education would suffer without their spouse. There is also exceptional hardship to the U.S. citizen if he or she had to relocate to another country. This blogpost explores severe conditions found in foreign countries as well as the types of documentation that can help demonstrate the conditions to strengthen hardship waiver application.

Every aspect of a denial should be explored when preparing applications for hardship waivers. Since the brief should leave no stone unturned, it should also dig deep into the home country of the immigrant spouse.

Mexico

For example, in Mexico, there are a variety of conditions that could cause extreme hardship on the U.S. citizen. Some common examples include high rates of crime and violence. The state of Michoacán in particular is plagued by drug cartels. The lucrative meth trade is based in the valleys and mountains of the state. Combat erupts between the cartels and the Mexican armed police and local militias. Even if a town is completely innocent of involvement with the cartels, they can still be overrun by extortion tactics and violence from the cartel leaders. There are many reports of cartels charging fees and extra taxes on poor ranchers just to be left alone. The farmers already earn a meager income but yet the cartels threaten to kill, destroy and kidnap their daughters if they do not comply. For any person, including a U.S. citizen, these violent conditions rise to an important factor of exceptional hardship and are vital to hardship waivers.

Brazil

In Brazil, hadrship waivers should put emphasis on widespread violence perpetrated by criminal gangs and abusive police units in many of their cities. Human Rights Watch Report of 2014 reported that in the first six months of 2013 there were 362 and 165 killings in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo alone caused by police forces. Along with these killings, police forces were also involved in covering the crimes they committed and led to further corruption. Wherever there is law enforcement corruption it is clear that the public’s safety is at risk.

Other common conditions to highlight, if applicable, include severe poverty, high levels of pollution, and eroding infrastructure.

Evidence

Hardship waivers, besides explaining how these conditions will cause extreme hardship, should demonstrate each claim with sufficient supporting documents. These documents can include letters from family member or friends that currently live in the foreign country. The letters can explain in detail what circumstances are difficult. Further they can send photos of the local schools, health facilities, roads, and building infrastructure. The friends or family can also provide articles from local newspapers illustrating the severe conditions in the town. In addition, recent reports on the country from credible organizations can serve to bolster the arguments in the waiver application brief. For example, Human Rights Watch, U.S. Department of State, and the U.S. Embassies are all credible authorities to provide such reports.

By demonstrating a foreign country’s circumstances and supporting the claims of hardship with documentation, a stronger hardship waiver application is created.

Kaushik Ranchod, Immigration Attorney

Kaushik Ranchod

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5 things you need to know about I601 & I601a waivers

Thursday, July 30, 2015 | Last Updated: May 11, 2015
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The 5 most important questions you should ask about i601 and i601a waivers

  • What is an extreme hardship in my case?
  • Do I have any kind of medical hardship?
  • Do you have any type of financial hardship?
  • Will your US Citizen spouse’s career be disrupted?
  • Are you from a country that has conditions that would endanger your US Citizen spouse?
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What Happens Once your I601 Waiver has been Approved?

Thursday, July 30, 2015 | Last Updated: April 22, 2015
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Congratulations your I601 Waiver is Approved! Now what?

Getting your I601 waiver approved is most the difficult part of the process. But that is not the last step necessary to obtain permanent residency or to enter the U.S. What comes next is a series of procedural steps so that the applicant can enter the U.S. lawfully. Compared to getting the waiver approved, these steps are simple.

Once the waiver is approved by USCIS, the applicant should receive a packet of information from the U.S. Embassy of her country of origin. The packet will instruct her to set up a new interview appointment at the consulate. This packet will generally be sent via DHL the day the consulate receives the I-601 approval notice from USCIS. This is generally 2-3 days after the USCIS approval. If the applicant does not receive the packet within 30 days it is recommended to contact the consulate. Once the packet’s instructions are followed the applicant can schedule the consulate interview online. This process is not done through the National Visa Center, as it was when the applicant received her visa denial.

Depending on when the last interview was with the consulate, the applicant might need to submit updated documents. If the last interview was more than one year ago, she will likely need to have a new medical exam done. In addition, it is likely the consulate will request new biometrics, an updated DS-260 and I-864 Affidavit of Support.

On the day of the interview, the applicant will bring all of the requested documents and her passport. The consulate will retain the passport after the visa is approved. A short time later, possibly as short as a week, the consulate will send via DHL the passport containing the visa and a sealed packet called the ‘Immigrant Visa Packet’. The visa is valid for entry into the U.S. for four months.

Upon entry into the U.S., the applicant will present the sealed Immigrant Visa Packet. The officer will stamp the visa and the stamp serves as a temporary green card (I-551) valid for one year. The actual green card should arrive sometime before the year is up. A social security number will be assigned automatically and a card arrives about three weeks after entry into the U.S.

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Face Your Immigration Law and Life Challenges with Optimism

Thursday, July 30, 2015 | Last Updated: March 10, 2015
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The immigration process is unquestionably challenging. It takes a long time and communication between government agencies and those who are applying for visas, waivers, a green card, or citizenship, is often unclear. At the Ranchod Law Group, we step in to make this process easier for our client, and we face the challenge with confidence.

A big source of frustration comes from the long, drawn out process—results seem so far away. We have laws, regulations, requirements, and government requests we need to address. When clients come to us frustrated, anxious, or worried, we can assure them that we are doing everything we can on our end. The fact is, decisions won’t happen overnight. Working with the US government is never easy.

We regularly interact with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). By that name alone, you would expect this agency to be prepared to answer questions related to all things immigration. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case, and due to that fact alone, one of our biggest challenges at Ranchod Law Group is just in interacting with the USCIS.

It is time consuming to communicate with USCIS. It may take an hour to get through to a representative that has a limited understanding of immigration law. We might call requesting a specific piece of information and their answer may be incorrect, or they may not have the information we are requesting, leading to more delays. We have encountered situations where the USCIS requests documentation we have already provided through RFE, which means we have to go through the process of resubmitting. Occasionally, they are unclear about a request, meaning we have a lot of guesswork on our end.

When they make a request like this, we have 30 to 90 days to respond or our request will end in a denial and we will have to appeal. Depending on the request, it can put a lot of pressure on us to get everything just right and to fulfill their requests to the letter. It’s a challenge we face head on. Our goal is to give our clients the best results possible, and we never lose sight of that. There are individuals, families, and companies who are depending on us. Of course, we cannot guarantee results, as these decisions aren’t in our control. We successfully respond to every request the USCIS sends us, and if any of their decisions aren’t in a client’s favor, we appeal, and keep pressing forward!

That’s what it is to face challenges. We can’t let them get us down, or we will never overcome them.

This is the kind of attitude I take home with me every night. My personal challenges may not compare to the challenges of many of my clients, but I don’t let obstacles stand in my way. Recently, I got a cold. If you recall, I’ve been working to get healthier and into better shape. This cold knocked me out for a week, and as anyone who has been in this situation knows, it’s not easy to get back on track after being sick for a while. My goal was to get back into my routine and not give myself an opportunity to slip. And so far, I’ve been successful! The hardest part was getting back into the gym, but after 10 days of procrastinating, I got back on track!

Another challenge I’ve been facing is gluten—or the lack of gluten. I feel much better than I did before removing it from my diet, but there are so many foods I miss. Sourdough bread, toasted with butter. Chocolate chip cookies. Chocolate cake. I guess we can say any baked good made with chocolate. I don’t expect the cravings to go away anytime soon, but I don’t give in.

The real challenge, going beyond these cravings, is coming home from work and wanting a big dinner. I know there is a lot of research that says the last meal of the day should be the smallest, but it’s the one I crave the most! I try to eat a healthy snack (carrots and cucumbers with hummus or nuts) before dinner to help compensate so I don’t eat as much. It helps a little.

As I’ve been working toward a healthier lifestyle, I may face setbacks and cravings, but I continue to push forward and focus on achieving my goal of better health. I know if I face this challenge with optimism and confidence, I’ll make it through, just as I know when we keep this same attitude with our clients, we set ourselves up for a more positive outcome.

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