AZTech, Integra Technologies, Andwill, and Wireclass Update V: Disconcerting Dysfunction – 4 Government Agencies Each Going Own Way Provide Lack of Closure to Victims

Posted on 

After the ICE press conference in October, it appeared that the US Government was winding down its investigation of AZTech, Integra, Andwill and Wireclass.  It appeared that those associated with The Four companies would be getting resolution one way or another. That conclusion, it turns out, was premature. As you know, there are four US government agencies primarily involved in the administration and enforcement of US immigration laws. They are Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Customs and Border Protection (CBP), US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and the Department of State through its local embassies and consulates.  ICE are the immigration police; it also is responsible for the administration of the SEVIS and OPT programs.  CBP includes the airport and port-of-entry inspectors who verify the admissibility of individuals to the United States. USCIS adjudicates immigration benefits, including H-1B petitions, I-765 employment authorization applications, changes/extensions of status, and green card applications….

Read more

A Visa Applicant’s Bill of Rights – What the Department of State and Your Local US Embassy/Consulate Often Do Not Want You to Know

Posted on 

For visa applicants, the cards seem to be stacked against you.  Among the hurdles a visa applicant must face: The law places the burden on the visa applicant to prove eligibility for the visa and that he or she is not inadmissible to the United States. There are inadequate consular resources; at busy posts, consular officers can only allot a few minutes to a visa adjudication. There is no formal administrative appeals process of a visa denial (no Administrative Appeals Office, Board of Immigration Appeals, Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals). With limited exception, there is no judicial review of visa decisions because of the  doctrine of consular reviewability. There is limited public accountability: no Department of State (DOS) Visa Ombudsman, no formal Complaint Procedure, and no formal recusal process. Section 428 of the Homeland Security Act grants the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) a vital role in the visa…

Read more

Trump Executive Order Bans Most Immigration for 60 Days

Posted on 

Regardless of country, President Trump has banned immigration of those outside the United States as of midnight on April 23, 2020.  This means that a) those seeking admission to the US as immigrants, b) are located outside the US and c) do not yet have an immigrant visa or a travel document valid beyond April 23, 2020 are banned entry to the United States for 60 days.  There are certain classes of individuals that this ban does not apply to, i.e., they are exempted: 1) those who are green card holders (lawful permanent residents); 2) those applying for adjustment of status within the United States; 3) EB-5 immigrant investors and their dependents; 4) certain medical professionals; 5) spouses and children under 21 of US citizens; and 6) other narrow categories (e.g., those entering for law enforcement or national security purposes; certain relatives of US Armed Forces members; certain Iraqi and…

Read more

Diversity Lottery Refusals

Posted on 

We have just posted an in-depth article on this site about the various types of Diversity Lottery refusals – and how to prevent or challenge them.  At least 30,000 individuals go through Diversity Visa interviews every year – and don’t receive the visas.  Putting aside the approximately $10,000,000 in processing fees pocketed by the Department of State from unsuccessful applicants every year and millions more spent by these applicants in medical exams, travel, etc…, the article spotlights the veritable minefield of potential reasons for refusal.  One would think that the Lottery aspect of the Diversity Visa Program only applies to the selection – competing to be one of the less than 1% selected. But what many winners find is that even after selection the “Lottery” elements of luck and chance continue right up until September 30: until the visa is issued or denied or the application is not acted upon…

Read more

Department of State Announcement on the Suspension of Routine Visa Services

Posted on 

Suspension of Routine Visa Services Last Updated: March 20, 2020   In response to significant worldwide challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of State is temporarily suspending routine visa services at all U.S. Embassies and Consulates. Embassies and consulates will cancel all routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments as of March 20, 2020. As resources allow, embassies and consulates will continue to provide emergency and mission critical visa services. Our overseas missions will resume routine visa services as soon as possible but are unable to provide a specific date at this time. Services to U.S. citizens continue to be available. More information is available on each Embassy’s website. This does not affect the Visa Waiver Program. See https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/faq?focusedTopic=Schengen%20Travel%20Proclamation for more information. Although all routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments are cancelled, the Machine Readable Visa (MRV) fee is valid and may be used for a visa appointment in the country…

Read more

221(g): Visa Application Status Check Leads to Refusal Shock

Posted on 

Visa applicants whose applications were pending under Section 221(g) received a shock yesterday morning when they went to check the status of their cases on the Department of State’s website.  Suddenly, the status of their cases changed to “Refused” from “Administrative Processing”.  Imagine the trauma inflicted on applicants who have been waiting months or even years to see that suddenly, their applications had been refused: their chance to immigrate, visit, study, or work in the US was denied. Only after reading the remaining text on the Status page does it become clear that the applications were not definitively denied, that they remain under adjudication, i.e, no final decision has been made. The small explanatory note under the bold heading of Refused states: If you were informed by the consular officer that your case was refused for administrative processing, your case will remain refused while undergoing such processing. You will receive…

Read more

No Statute of Limitations in Visa Law – A Distressing New Phenomenon with Tragic Consequences

Posted on 

Statutes of limitation apply in criminal law. They were put into place to prevent the prosecution of an alleged wrongdoing after a certain number of years has gone by (usually 5-7 years). There are many reasons for this: evidence goes stale; witnesses are unavailable; memories fade; to allow for certainty and repose of the parties; and to prevent inconsistent decisions.  But there is no statute of limitations in visa/immigration law. With some exceptions, until recently, this has not been a significant problem.  But along with the anti-immigrant politics of the Trump Administration has come a new visa phenomenon: consular officers are now using the lack of a statute of limitations to “exhume” perceived past visa transgressions.  They are re-opening and reconsidering suspected visa violations – with no limitation of time or past consular “exoneration”.  Consular officers are now revisiting such transgressions from 5, 10, or even 15 years ago –…

Read more

221(g), a Consular Wall, and Unavailable Documents

Posted on 

You have been denied under Section 221(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act and despaired because the consular officer demanded a document that is unavailable or unobtainable. Although rare, this does happen – perhaps a birth certificate was lost and the archives in a city burned down in a fire, or the birth certificate lists the wrong information.  This is what happened to a recent client – whose son was stranded outside the United States for more than two years while he attempted to resolve consular demands to have a  local court amend the birth certificate of his son to reflect him as the father. There is hope in such situations.  US immigration law anticipates such problems. If a visa applicant can show that there is “actual hardship” in trying to procure the document, not just “normal delay and inconvenience”, then the consular officer is empowered to waive the document…

Read more

Challenging Visa Denials and Revocations after an Interpol Red Notice or a Kangaroo Court Conviction

Posted on 

Interpol conjures up images of a worldwide police tracking down “bad guys” on the run from home country authorities.  But Interpol is not a law enforcement agency: it does not issue warrants and does not have the authority to make arrests.  While the overwhelming majority of Interpol’s information-sharing capacity is dedicated to tracking down true “bad guys”, many home country governments abuse it. They manipulate Interpol into doing their dirty work, making bogus allegations to locate dissidents, political activists, and whistleblowers. As a result, Interpol issues Red Notices based on bare allegations made by a government – for example, fraud – not evidence, with a view to extraditing that person back to that country. Yet consular, Customs and Border Protection, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials erroneously use the Red Notice as shorthand to deny visas, detain individuals at the border, and arrest them inside the United States. It is…

Read more

The Value of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

Posted on 

One critical tool in challenging errant visa decisions of consular officers is through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).  While the FOIA process with the Department of State is extremely limited in visa cases, sometimes consular officers rely on inaccurate information contained in US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) files or improperly make visa decisions based on materials contained in those files. In such cases, FOIA requests can be extremely helpful. Lawyers can assist in three aspects of Freedom of Information Act requests: 1) properly formulating and lodging requests; 2) filing lawsuits when FOIA processing is delayed; and 3) assisting in appeals of government responses to FOIA requests.  The proper formulation of a request can mean the difference between a process that can take 3 months or 12 or more…

Read more

Zombies and Petition Revocations

Posted on 

What do zombies and petition revocations have in common?  Just when you thought they have died a permanent death – never to be seen again or heard from again – they come back to life, sometimes with devastating consequences. This came to mind when a former client, Alex, contacted me about his Diversity Visa case.  He won the Green Card Lottery, but when he went to the Embassy for his interview, he was told that his application would be put on hold until questions about his 1998 L-1 petition were resolved.  I  had represented him back in 1998, after the Embassy sent his L-1 petition back to INS because of a “fraudulent office address” and his inability to describe his subordinates at his L-1 visa interview.  We were able to resolve the fraudulent office address accusation at that time – the Embassy’s investigator had gone to the wrong (!) address…

Read more

In the Dark as to Why the Consular Officer Permanently Barred You from the United States for a Material Misrepresentation, Alien Smuggling or a Crime of Moral Turpitude? There is Hope.

Posted on 

Sometimes, it doesn’t make sense. When a potential client contacts us regarding a decision by a consular officer, we try to understand, first of all, why was the decision made?  What caused the consular officer to make the decision he or she did?  Often, we can understand the position of the consular officer; while we may not always agree with that position and in fact challenge the position, we at least can identify the problem. But sometimes, we are confounded.  Take for example the situation of J. J contacted us after he had been turned around at the border by Customs and Border Protection. The CBP protocol memorializing J’s request to enter the US was clear: it said that J needed a different type of visa. He had previously been a student in the US, and he needed to obtain a visitor visa in order to return to the US…

Read more

Visa Revocation – Not Just Related to Criminal Activity

Posted on 

Most people understand that if they are arrested, it is possible that their visas will be revoked.  DUIs, drug possession, domestic violence, shoplifting – these are just some of the situations in which individuals with valid visas have their visas revoked.  But what is less known – and understood – is that the Department of State has the ability to revoke visas for any reason in which eligibility is questioned.  In other words, the inquiry into whether an individual qualifies for a visa does not stop at the time of issuance; it is a process that can be – and often is – reactivated at any time after issuance.  In fact, we are seeing more revocations for non-criminal issues than criminal problems. So what leads to this re-examination of an individual’s eligibility? The trigger points for such a “verification reactivation” are numerous.  For example, consular officers conduct validation studies, checking…

Read more

Part 3: Hadi Deeb: Tsar-Consul of Uzbekistan – “You are not proficient in your 3rd and 4th languages? Sorry, you are denied.”

Posted on 

The case of Mr. B is illustrative of the consular tyranny prevailing in Tashkent and how Mr. Deeb has apparently impacted Department of State decisionmakers in formulating visa policy. Mr. B. has a high school diploma and thereby satisfies the Diversity Visa education requirements.[1] He is of Tajik background and grew up in Uzbekistan, where he learned the Uzbek language.  Yet, when he attended his interview at the US Embassy in Tashkent, the consul tested not his knowledge of the Uzbek or Tajik languages, but his English- and Russian-language capabilities in violation of the State Department’s Foreign Affairs Manual: (b) A DV refusal must be based on evidence that the alien did not in fact obtain the required degree and not on your assessment of the alien’s knowledge level. You may not administer an exam, either oral or written, to test an applicant’s basic knowledge in order to determine whether…

Read more