Innocent Visa Applicants Applying for Nonimmigrant and Immigrant Waivers

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With the dramatic upsurge in consular decisions to permanently bar visa applicants from the United States, the question of applying for an immigrant or nonimmigrant waiver has become more and more acute.  Many immigration lawyers will advise to just accept the decision, admit that you were wrong, say you are sorry, and apply for the waiver. They say that your chances of receiving the waiver will be increased if you admit your guilt and express remorse, even if you did not do anything wrong. But what if you are not “guilty”?  What if you did not commit a material misrepresentation (Section 212(a)(6)(C)(i))? Or engage in alien smuggling (Section 212(a)(6)(E))? Or commit a crime of moral turpitude (Section 212(a)(2)(A)(i)(I))?  Should you admit you were wrong? Of course not. There are legal mechanisms to challenge such lifechanging decisions, such as a Request for Reconsideration.  Sometimes, the supervisor of the consular officer or…

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Immigrant Waivers – New Hope for the Refused?

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Previously, USCIS overseas offices had responsibility for reviewing I-601 immigrant waiver applications. This led to inconsistent adjudications among various overseas offices and extreme variations in processing times.  We first discussed the patent unfairness of this system on this blog back in November 2011.  To remedy these problems, in June 2012 USCIS centralized the processing of I-601 waivers at the Nebraska Service Center in the United States.  The impact can now be seen, and should give those who had been previously denied by a USCIS overseas office hope. As noted in our 2011 blog, the approval rates at certain USCIS overseas offices were dismal at best.  For example, in Accra, Ghana, which had jurisdiction and reviewed waiver applications from numerous countries in Africa, its approval rate in 2010 was 22%.  The Rome USCIS Office had an approval rate of 25%.  Moscow and Athens hovered around 40%.  Contrast that with the approval…

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DV-2015 Lottery Fever

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Congratulations to the winners of the DV-2015 Green Card Lottery. Against great odds, you were selected. Now comes the hard part. As you know, selection does not guarantee a visa. 125,514 individuals were selected for DV-2015 (out of 9,388,986 entrants), but only 50,000, including their family members, receive visas. Winners must receive their visas by September 30, 2015 or before the 50,000 quota or 3,500 country quota is exhausted. In general, the lower the case number, the earlier the interview and the better chances of receiving the visa before the elapse of the program. Interviews will commence October 1, 2014. The big difference in DV processing this year is that the selectees and their family members will submit their immigrant visa application online and no paper will be filed with the Kentucky Consular Center (KCC). Each Lottery visa applicant must meet the general requirements for admissibility to the United States….

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What do bad plumbing and waiver applications have in common?

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We’ve all seen the commercials with stunt cars and daredevil tricks, and the disclaimer at the bottom stating “Professionals at work. Do not try this on your own.”  That is why it is surprising that people with the means to hire a qualified lawyer to prepare a waiver application often do not do so: they are determined to try it on their own. The stakes could not be higher – an approval means a reunion in the United States for those located overseas, a denial can mean a lifetime of separation and the shattered lives of children – yet people are willing to learn as they go, to “experiment” on their own, to use whatever it is they can learn on the Internet to prepare their cases.  Waiver law is complicated, and preparing a waiver application requires skill, creativity, and experience. Even if a 601 or 212 application is denied,…

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Extreme Hardship, Extreme Luck, or Extreme Lawyering – USCIS Immigrant Waiver Approval Rates

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In the attached file are the most recent approval statistics for USCIS offices within the Rome District.  Noteworthy is the wide disparity in I-601 approval rates: for example, the Rome office approves only 25% of the applications while Frankfurt approves 76% (presumably, this is associated with the large number of US military personnel stationed in Germany). The Accra, Ghana field office, which has jurisdiction over Ghana, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo, has an approval rate of 22%. The Nairobi, Kenya office, on the other hand, which accepts applications from Burundi, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Rwanda, Seychelles Islands, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda, has an approval rate of 70%.  The Johannesburg, South Africa office (Lesotho, Swaziland, Mozambique, Namibia, Angola, Zimbabwe,…

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