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

Visa Myth #981 – “If I get a 2nd Passport, My US Visa Problems will be Solved.”

Posted on 

This myth has been going around for years – no doubt perpetuated by representatives of 2nd passport programs.  A national of Country X has US visa problems – because of a criminal incident 20 years ago making him inadmissible to the US.  He decides to obtain a passport from a European Union country by making a very substantial investment.  Because he has been told that nationals of his new country are eligible for the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) – a program that allows for travel as a tourist or business visitor to the US for up to 90 days without a visa, with no visa interview required – he is under the impression that he should qualify too.  Until he reads the fine print – or consults with a US immigration lawyer. Before boarding a flight to the US without a visa, citizens of VWP countries pre-register with the US…

Read more

Just Because They Say So, Doesn’t Make It True

Posted on 

 I received a frantic call from a client recently at her naturalization interview.  She was being advised by the interviewing officer that her application was going to be denied because she did not meet the residency requirements.  In the run-up to the interview, the client and I had reviewed all of the relevant legal issues, including the physical presence and continuous residence requirements, and I assured her that she met the requirements for naturalization.  The officer was kind enough to speak with me over the phone, but remained unpersuaded from her position that the residency requirements were not met. The client left the USCIS office and went home extremely upset, notwithstanding my attempts to calm her down and assurances that we were in the right and would be able to challenge any adverse decision. And then, two hours after the interview, something strange happened: I received an e-mail notification from…

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

The Culture of No and 214(b) Student Visa Denials

Posted on 

The Department of State does not publish separate statistics for student visa denials, but judging by the number of phone calls we have been recently receiving from rejected students on Section 214(b) grounds, it appears that the Culture of No has adversely impacted potential students as well.  In particular, consular attention – and denials – has been riveted to certain categories of students, including:  1) those older than the age of 25; 2) those planning to attend community college in the US; 3) those from economically distressed or provincial areas of the home country; 4) “eternal” students; 5) those with planned majors at the US university deemed to be of less practical value; 6)  those with significant gaps in their work history; 7) those who previously dropped out of school; and 8) financial sponsors who are not immediate relatives. Consuls have very little time to conduct a student visa interview,…

Read more

Stunning Newly-Released Department of State Statistics Show Increases in Public Charge, Misrepresentation, Alien Smuggling, 214(b) Denials

Posted on 

The statistics stun – even the most callous observer.  In just two years, the number of individuals denied immigrant visas under the public charge section of the law (Section 212(a)(4) of the Immigration and Nationality Act) has increased more than 12 times!  Alien smuggling (Section 212(a)(6)(E)) findings doubled for immigrant visa applicants over the past year.  Misrepresentation (Section 212(a)(6)(C)(i)) decisions for these applicants increased by more than 25%.  214(b) denials for those applying for nonimmigrant visas – more than 2.7 million – also edged upwards. The Department of State’s statistics table lists more than 50 visa ineligibility grounds. But one is hard pressed to remember such a radical increase in denials for a single ineligibility as with the public charge provision over the past two years. Incredibly, this massive increase is not a result of any changes in or amendments to the law itself. This would take congressional action. Rather,…

Read more

Cheap is Expensive. How Paying for a Visa Consultation Can Save You from a Visa Denial.

Posted on 

Every day, we receive e-mails such as these: “Hello, I was denied a Returning Resident Visa. Can you help?” “Good day. I have traveled to the US 10 times over the past 5 years and never had a problem. When I tried to board the plane to the US last week, I was told that my visa was revoked. Can you assist?” “Last summer I was barred from entering the US for five years. What are my options?” Not to be macabre, but imagine that you were diagnosed with cancer, and on the Internet, you look up the names of some cancer doctors, and you sent them e-mails, asking whether they can help you? What would the doctor respond? Similarly, when it comes to US visas, the only way to truly assess a case is by having a detailed discussion – about your personal circumstances, about what was indicated in…

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

Petition Revocations: Potential Conflicts with Employers and Why Denied Visa Applicants Should Consult with their Own Lawyer

Posted on 

Did you go to your employment visa interview and the consular officer told you that the approval of your petition is being revoked?  This is not an uncommon story, as more and more H-1B, L-1, O-1, and P-1 petitions are being recommended for revocation every year by consular officers. In general, consular officers must defer to the judgment of USCIS and the grounds for revocation are limited.  To recommend revocation of the approval of a petition, the consular officer must have discovered material new facts or misrepresentation or find that the visa applicant does not have the qualifications for the visa.  But often times consular officers substitute their own opinion and readjudicate the petition. We are seeing this more frequently, particularly in the context of O visa adjudications, in which the consular officer sets a much higher bar for qualification than USCIS.   The stakes are particularly high for those applicants…

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 4: Hadi Deeb: Tsar-Consul of Uzbekistan – “Despite what you think, you really are not divorced.”

Posted on 

Mssrs. R, Y, K, K, and D each submitted entries for the DV-2018 Lottery during the registration period in the fall of 2016. They each had been divorced by an Uzbek court before the Lottery, so they indicated in their entries that they were divorced.  Each of them was selected as a winner. After attending their interviews and presenting the court decisions as evidence of their divorce, they were advised by consular staff that they were being refused immigrant visas because they had not picked up their divorce certificates from the local registration office prior to submission of their entries: as a result, in the eyes of the Embassy, they were not officially divorced when they completed their Lottery entries. While the Uzbek law on divorce is ambiguous, it has been in effect since 2011.  What is beyond dispute is that the issuance of a court decision renders the couple…

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

Part 2: Hadi Deeb: Tsar-Consul of Uzbekistan – A Stillborn Baby, An Infertile Woman, and “Why aren’t you Married?”

Posted on 

As background, some information about the Diversity Lottery is in order. The State Department administers the Diversity Lottery program, which allows for individuals from low-immigration countries with a high-school education or its equivalent or certain work experience to qualify to immigrate to the United States.[1] Every year, more than 10 million individuals from all over the world participate, with approximately 100,000 selected to pursue the 50,000 visas available. The popularity of the Diversity Lottery extends to the citizens of Uzbekistan, a poor, predominantly Muslim country in Central Asia. The annual Lottery is held in three stages: 1) a registration period, in which individuals submit their entries (in the fall); 2) selection and notification of the winners (spring); and 3) visa interviews/adjustment of status process (starting on October 1), at which time nonrefundable processing fees are paid. For selectees processing overseas, they must receive immigrant visas by September 30, or before…

Read more