Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Squeaky Wheel Gets The Grease

Having worked on immigration cases for a number of years, the only thing that remains constant is that there is no consistency in how our government processes immigration cases. If you've heard of the old saying about the squeaky wheel getting the grease, that pretty much sums up how immigration cases are often adjudicated by the government. Too often USCIS and the State Department, which share responsibilities in administering our immigration laws, apply some rules too rigidly with horrible consequences to the unwary while completely abandoning its responsibilities with respect to immigration laws that would help preserve and protect our nation's national security interests. That seems to be the case with the Frankfort High School senior who got some bad advice from her immigration lawyer and missed the deadline for leaving the country and applying for her immigration visa by one day and was threatened with a 3-year time bar on re-entering the country. From WISH-TV:
Frankfort High School’s salutatorian, who has been stranded in Mexico for six weeks due to visa regulations, is going to return in time for graduation after all.
Elizabeth Olivas, 18, had worried she would still be stuck in Mexico when her class graduated this weekend. But Thursday, just before 3 p.m., her attorney Sarah L. Moshe said she was notified by the U.S. State Department that she had been granted a waiver to return home.
Olivas was born in Mexico but has lived in the U.S. since she was 4 years old. Immigration law required that she return to Mexico within 180 days of turning 18 to update her visa. Olivas missed that deadline by one day. Moshe told 24-Hour News 8 Wednesday that they had pushed the limit because they didn’t want to interrupt Olivas’ senior year any more than they had to.
The missed deadline, though, could have gotten Olivas banned from returning to the U.S. for three years.
But at the last minute, negotiations worked out to let her return home.
A few minutes after hearing the news, Olivas texted Moshe: “JUST GOT OUT VISA IN MY HANDS. IM COMING HOME! THANK YOU SO MUCH, IM SOO HAPPY!”
The news clears the way for her to graduate with the Class of 2012 on Saturday at Frankfort High School.
The WISH-TV story doesn't mention the role Sen. Lugar's office played in assisting Olivas, but I'm sure it was critical in helping her get quick relief in the case. All the media attention in a critical presidential election year couldn't have hurt either. For all of his personal shortcomings, Sen. Lugar's staff is very helpful in helping Indiana constituents who are being treated unfairly by immigration authorities. I hope the law firm that screwed up Olivas' case doesn't bill her for the extra time it took to adjudicate her case. Olivas and her family can thank Sen. Lugar's office, not her attorney, for the quick action in this case.

I have been assisting a friend of mine from my hometown with an immigration visa for his wife, who resides in a country half way around the world for more than two years. For whatever reason, the U.S. consulate in this particular country punishes American citizens who play by the rules and attempt to bring their family members to the U.S. legally. In the case of my friend, his wife's marriage visa was arbitrarily denied despite an extremely well-documented case establishing their bona fide marriage. It took us more than a year to get the case reviewed by USCIS and returned to the consulate for adjudication and then only after we obtained the assistance of his congressman's office in another state. We kept getting the runaround for months. USCIS had mailed the file to the consular post, but the consular post kept denying that it had it in its possession. My friend and client, who also happens to be a veteran, had grown so frustrated that he had made arrangements with his employer to relocate his job and expatriate to another country so he could live with his wife. Two days after I sent an e-mail to the consulate warning them that I was prepared to go public with the hardship our government was making my client endure by not allowing him to be united with his wife, the file was located and an appointment scheduled for my client, who received the wonderful news today that his wife's visa had been approved. Yes, the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

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