DV-2012 – Thank You for Your Support – Next Steps

Posted on 

Thank you all for your words of encouragement and support!  We greatly appreciate it. To pursue the compromise solution proposed in my May 17, 2011 letter to Mr. Donahue at the Department of State, I believe it appropriate to gather more detailed information about the individuals who were winners.  This additional data about the winners – who already filed with the Kentucky Consular Center?  countries affected? etc… – will be critical going forward as all possible remedies are discussed and explored. If you are a winner, please complete the questionnaire at this link questionnairedv2012 and return it to me by e-mail at white@bridgewest.com with the word Lottery 2012 in the subject line.  Thank you in advance for your cooperation. May common sense and justice prevail.  

Read more

DOS Invalidation of DV-2012 Results Leaves 22,000 Winners Devastated – Our Proposal for Correcting this Injustice

Posted on 

The Department of State’s invalidation of the DV-2012 results has left 22,000 winners distraught.  And they have a right to be – they did nothing wrong, started to act on their winning notifications, and now have had the carpet pulled out from underneath them. Why can’t the Department allow those winners to remain and conduct a new drawing on July 15 for 78,000-100,000 additional selectee slots?  This is the topic of my letter to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Visa Services, David Donahue:  donahuefinal1        

Read more

DV-2012 Results Invalidated! New Hope for All Participants

Posted on 

In an unprecedented decision, the Department of State has invalidated the DV-2012 Lottery results.  Here is the official announcement: http://dvlottery.state.gov/ The Assistant Secretary of State for Visa Services confirmed what was pointed out in earlier blogs and our letter to the Visa Office – that the Lottery was not random because the overwhelming majority (90%) selected were those who submitted entries on October 5th and 6th, thereby violating one of the requirements of the Lottery. As a result, a new Lottery will be conducted, with all entries submitted during the October 5-November 3 timeframe being eligible.  Unfortunately, for those who “won” – they are no longer winners.  However, they will have another chance to be selected. The winners will be announced on or about July 15, 2011. Stay tuned…      

Read more

DV-2012 Update – October 5-6 Submissions Account for 3/4 of All Winners

Posted on 

As pointed out in our previous blog entry, the overwhelming majority of winners in the DV-2012 Lottery were those who submitted entries on October 5 and 6th. We have seen two surveys confirming this: 1. in which 74% of the winners (sampling of 957) submitted entries on October 5th and 6th – http://www.govorimpro.us/showthread.php?t=28753&page=5 (Russian language) 2. in which 82% of the winners (sampling of 153) submitted entries on October 5th and 6th.  http://www.ulitka.com/%D0%9D%D0%B5%D1%81%D0%BE%D1%80%D1%82%D0%B8%D1%80%D0%BE%D0%B2%D0%B0%D0%BD%D0%BD%D0%BE%D0%B5/%D0%97%D0%B0%D0%B2%D0%B8%D1%81%D0%B8%D0%BC%D0%BE%D1%81%D1%82%D1%8C_%D0%B2%D1%8B%D0%B8%D0%B3%D1%80%D1%8B%D1%88%D0%B0_%D0%BE%D1%82_%D0%B4%D0%B0%D1%82%D1%8B_%D0%BF%D0%BE%D0%B4%D0%B0%D1%87%D0%B8_%D0%B7%D0%B0%D1%8F%D0%B2%D0%BA%D0%B8_dv-2012_a-50985.html (Russian language) Also of interest is the statistic from these surveys that if one submitted an entry on those dates, the chances of winning were more than 50%.  In general, the chances of being selected are 1-2%. We renew our call for the Department of State to investigate this “non-random” Lottery.

Read more

Joy, Disappointment, and Scandal: Department of State Notifies DV-2012 Winners

Posted on 

The day that millions of people waited for the world over ended in … scandal.  On May 1 DV-2012 Lottery participants learned their fate: whether their entries were selected, or were being told “better luck next year (if there is a Lottery next year).”  But what the losing participants did not count on was that the overwhelming majority of winners were those who submitted their entries on October 5 and 6, 2010, the first two days of the DV-2012 Lottery.  For DV-2012, the “early birds” did get the proverbial worm – the right to pursue immigrant visa applications at US consular posts abroad or adjust status to permanent resident if lawfully located in the United States. As a reminder, the Department of State accepted DV-2012 entries from October 5 until November 3, 2010.  DOS encouraged applicants not to wait “until the last week” to submit their entries in order to…

Read more

What do bad plumbing and waiver applications have in common?

Posted on 

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,…

Read more

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

Posted on 

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,…

Read more

8 Commandments by which Every Consular Officer Must Live By

Posted on 

One of the first things that I learned in Catholic School is the Ten Commandments.  We didn’t so much learn the Commandments as to have them seared into our memory, at our ready recall when the situation called for them.  Violating a commandment was cause for soul-searching and a trip to the confessional on the following Saturday. Similarly, the visa applicant should know that consular officers have their own set of “commandments” that they must abide by, those set out in the Customer Service Statement to Visa Applicants (reproduced below verbatim).  This Statement specifies some rights to which visa applicants are entitled when applying for a visa (visa applicants are entitled to many more rights than those listed, a topic for a future blog).  Notable for their frequency of violation are “Commandments” #1, 2, 4, and 8 (I have added numbers for ease of reference).   For example, a consular…

Read more

Before Seeing Hollywood, You Gotta Get Through Customs and Border Patrol: A Tour of LAX Airport

Posted on 

On Tuesday I had the honor of taking a behind-the-scenes tour of the international terminal of the airport in Los Angeles.  While it was not quite as interesting as some of Los Angeles’ other attractions – Venice Beach or Zuma, anyone? – for an immigration lawyer, there was much to see and learn. What many people forget is that possession of a visa does not guarantee entry to the US.  It is the inspector at the port-of-entry to the US who decides – allow the person to enter or not.  For example, a dependent child who receives an immigrant visa and marries before entering the US is no longer considered a dependent and thus not eligible to enter as an immigrant on that visa.  A more typical example is when an individual possesses the wrong type of visa – a student in possession of a tourist visa or a tourist…

Read more

Stupid is as Stupid Does or When Will We Enact Comprehensive Immigration Reform?

Posted on 

People do stupid things.   Sometimes, for no reason at all, sometimes, for reasons that are entirely understandable. That doesn’t mean you or I would do it, but… Yesterday a couple from the Ukraine contacted me about their situation.  About nine months after “Ivan” received his green card, he married “Lena”.  They love each other, grew up together, and had spent a lot of time together.  But now Ivan lives in the US as a permanent resident and has a good job; Lena lives in the Ukraine.  US law on family immigration subjects spouses and children of green card holders to quotas.  The current wait for spouses located overseas to be unified with their loved ones in the US is nearly four years.  Because of this long wait, Lena and Ivan started to explore other options to speed up their reunification. First, Lena tried to obtain a tourist visa from the…

Read more

Validate This: How Consular Officers Use Visa Refusals as Punishment

Posted on 

As a follow up to yesterday’s post, refusal rates usually are inversely related to the economic development of a country:  the lower the level of economic development, the higher the refusal rate. Most African countries have higher refusal rates than more developed countries, such as China, Russia, and Kazakhstan.  But this does not always hold true. An example of this is the refusal rate of the US Embassy in Armenia. While recently lowering its refusal rate, the refusal rate of the Embassy in Yerevan is still at 51%, a level higher than such countries as Bangladesh, Cambodia, Central African Republic, and Burkina Faso.  According to the Embassy, this is due to the results of a “validation study,” an analysis of how many Armenians overstay their visas or do not return to their home country.  The high level of overstays, according to the Embassy, justifies the high refusal rate. As a…

Read more

Visa Statistics – Moscow Refusal Rate Doubles; India Rate Remains at Over 25%; Ukraine Rate Dips

Posted on 

The Department of State has published its visa statistics for 2010.  The statistics have confirmed what we have seen in our everyday practice: the US Embassy in Moscow has doubled its nonimmigrant visa refusal rate.   It is no wonder that Vice President Biden politely declined Mr. Putin’s request to abolish visas between the countries! The refusal rate jump corresponds with the arrival of a new chief of the NIV section and Consul General. Notable in the statistics is the fact that the refusal rate slightly fell in India, but the consulates there still refuse more than 1/4 of all applicants.  The refusal rates in such countries as China, Vietnam, Ukraine, and Haiti dropped significantly, while the refusal rates in Saudi Arabia increased, although not at the level of Russia. Below are the official statistics: 2010 stats – http://www.travel.state.gov/pdf/FY10.pdf 2009 stats – http://www.travel.state.gov/pdf/FY09.pdf  

Read more

Our Article in Immigration Lawyer’s Daily – Proposed Consular Complaint Procedure

Posted on 

This subject has been gnawing at me for a while. Why is it that other government agencies, including USCIS and Customs and Border Patrol, have complaint procedures and will follow-up on legitimate complaints, but the agency responsible for our image overseas and interacts with thousands of foreigners a day, the Department of State, does not?  While admittedly raw, the linked article represents our attempt to structure such a procedure within the context of the visa process.  Your feedback is welcomed. http://www.ilw.com/articles/2011,0408-white.shtm

Read more