The Klinke Immigration Blog
U.S. Immigration News & Analysis

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Our First U Visa Denial

Posted by on Oct 30, 2014 in Interesting Events and Cases

I’ve been very lucky. In over five years of practice, I have never had a U visa denied. But, when U visas make up one-third of your practice, a denial is bound to happen at some point. We filed an application for Juana (name changed) in the summer of 2013. Her niece had been kidnapped and assaulted by an ex-boyfriend. The ex-boyfriend dropped the niece off at her uncle’s home just as the entire family had congregated at the house because they were worried they hadn’t heard about the niece in over a day. The ex-boyfriend not...

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Problems with the National Visa Center (NVC)

Posted by on Oct 22, 2014 in U.S. Immigration News

The National Visa Center (NVC) plays a key part in helping bring family members together. It’s an office within the U.S. Department of State and serves to collect documents and information needed for an immigrant visa interview that will be held at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate outside the Unites States. A file arrives at the NVC after USCIS has approved the underlying petition – like an I-130 for a family member. The NVC then tells the applicant what kinds of documents and information is needed for the visa interview abroad. Once...

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No More U Visas for 2015

Posted by on Oct 14, 2014 in U.S. Immigration News

Late last fall, I wrote about how U visas were gone for 2014. Now again, USCIS has run out of U visas. The government fiscal year begins on October 1st. That means that fiscal year 2015 is from October 1, 2014 through September 30, 2015. When Congress created the U visa, they made it so only 10,000 visas were available per fiscal year. We call this a “cap.” Each year, USCIS runs out of U visas faster and faster. For fiscal year 2014, the cap was reached on December 13, 2013. For fiscal year 2015, which just began this past October...

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Reflecting on Two Years

Posted by on Oct 8, 2014 in Lawyer Information

My lease for the Klinke Immigration office space began on October 1, 2012, so I consider that our official opening day. Here we are, two years later, and I’m so proud of what we’ve done. We’ve come a long way since then. I remember first meeting clients at Panera Bread or Starbucks because I didn’t even have an office. Now we have a beautiful office where clients are comfortable and safe. I remember asking Spanish-only speakers to call me back with an interpreter because I didn’t have anyone who could talk to...

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Posted by on Sep 24, 2014 in Interesting Events and Cases

Sometimes it’s good to be reminded about the good in the world when we’re constantly surrounded by disappointment and despair. I had one of those weeks last week and with my disgust with no immigration reform, it was nice to switch from being cynical to being hopeful for the future. Klinke Immigration is a co-sponsor for Telemundo’s First Annual Todos Somos Héroes Atlanta (We Are All Heroes) campaign. At a celebratory luncheon last week, the heroes were announced and their stories were told. The recipients were all amazing. Beyond the work...

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When Should You Hire an Immigration Attorney?

Posted by on Sep 18, 2014 in Strategy

Every immigration situation presents its own special timelines. Is it ever too late to hire an attorney? Is it ever too soon? When should you hire a licensed attorney to assist with your immigration matter? To use my favorite lawyer’s answer: It depends. Scenario: My girlfriend lives in Italy and we want to get married. Answer: The answer depends on what your long-term goals are. If you know for certain you want to live in the United States, schedule a consultation whenever you are engaged. You’ll need to talk about the difference between a...

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USCIS Processing Times

Posted by on Sep 15, 2014 in Strategy

One of the most common questions I receive is “How long will it take USCIS to decide my case?” This is a great question, but it’s not always an easy one to answer. USCIS is a massive organization. They have local offices, service centers, and a national benefits center. They are scattered across the country and your case may end up at any of them – it depends on the case type and where you live. The best way to figure out how long your case will take is to visit the USCIS Processing Time Information website (opens in new window)....

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The Unscrupulous

Posted by on Sep 3, 2014 in Opinion

Unscrupulous: adjective. Not honest or fair; doing things that are illegal, wrong, or dishonest (Merriam-Webster definition). There are a lot of unscrupulous people out there, and you can find them in immigration as well. There are immigration attorneys who charge insanely high prices for cases that have no legal merit. There are notarios who file forms and then disappear when the client gets put in deportation proceedings. There are attorneys who have lost their law license, but they still practice law. Why do they do it? Probably because...

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A Long Battle Won

Posted by on Aug 28, 2014 in Interesting Events and Cases

My fifth client finally won her case. I’ll call her Lili. She’s from Vietnam. Nearly two years ago, Lili hired me just after my office opened in October 2012. Lili speaks no English, and no one in my office speaks Vietnamese, so working with her was a challenge. She brought friends and family in to translate, but it is always difficult when there is a major language barrier between client and attorney. Lili had already received a conditional green card, but her husband turned abusive. She needed to file to remove the conditions,...

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What is Due Process?

Posted by on Aug 20, 2014 in Opinion

There’s a lot of talk in the media about the crisis of immigrant children and how cases are being moved through too quickly. Immigration advocates constantly talk about how the immigrants at the border are being deprived of due process. So what is due process? And why is it a problem when due process is denied? Due process is so important that it’s in our Constitution twice! It’s how we – people – are protected in the legal system. When the government wants to take away or impede on our life, liberty, or property, it must follow...

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Deferred Action
Not for Childhood Arrivals Only

Posted by on Aug 12, 2014 in Strategy

By now, most everyone knows about Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). It received a lot of press in 2012 when President Obama announced that he would allow certain young people to remain in the United States without the threat of deportation hanging over their head. Lately, DACA has received a bit more press again because some argue that it led to the influx of Central American children coming to the border to seek safety and refuge. Deferred Action, though, isn’t only for children. The program has been around for years and...

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The American Dream Is Still Alive

Posted by on Aug 4, 2014 in Opinion

Watching the news these days is depressing: Congress does little to nothing. Ugly hatred reveals itself as adults yell at YMCA camp kids, thinking they are undocumented minors. Our president admits that our country tortured detainees post 9/11. Corporations seem to be granted more rights and more tax breaks while families struggle to pay for the basics. Sometimes it’s hard to see the good or even believe that good is out there. Last week, at a celebration of new U.S. citizens, I was reminded what makes the United States so great. The event...

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When Abuse Forces a Change in Plans

Posted by on Jul 25, 2014 in Domestic Violence

Summer months are peak times for domestic violence. As temperatures rise, so do tempers. What happens when a family petition turns sour because of abuse in the relationship? Currently, it takes about five months from the time of filing a marriage-based I-130 and I-485 to the time of an interview. Unfortunately, a lot can change for a couple in five months. Recently, I’ve seen three cases where domestic abuse and extreme cruelty began during this pending period. The foreign national doesn’t know how to move forward because...

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Immigration Law
If It Makes Sense, You Don’t Understand It

Posted by on Jul 18, 2014 in Strategy

Earlier this week, Jon Stewart made fun of the crazy bureaucracy of our immigration laws. Below is the clip again for your enjoyment. (Jump to 0:55.)   Sure, Jon didn’t get all the details right (Form N-400 is for naturalization, not asylum), but he did a fine job showing how convoluted our immigration laws are. When I first started learning the ins and outs of immigration law, my mentor always said: “If it makes sense, you’re not understanding it.” Example 1: 245(i) 245(i) is a section of the Immigration and...

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What is Extreme Hardship?

Posted by on Jul 11, 2014 in Strategy

Extreme hardship is an idea that comes up in immigration law time and time again and is one of the underlying requirements for a successful Waiver case. But did you know that there is no clear definition of what it is? Extreme hardship is fluid, subject to interpretation, and it is different for everyone. These are the major factors as to why creating a winning waiver application is so difficult. Immigration recognizes that anytime a foreign national cannot stay in the United States, his or her family will suffer. Children will lose a parent,...

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Immigration Reform 2014
What Can President Obama Do?

Posted by on Jul 2, 2014 in Reform

On Monday, June 30th, President Obama held an impromptu press conference where he announced he was tired of waiting for Congress to take action on immigration reform, and that he was planning to move forward with changes on his own. President Obama hasn’t laid out any specifics at that press conference, but I have a few ideas what may be on his mind. But, first to clarify, only Congress has the ability to make law. The President, no matter how much he would like to, cannot create new law on his own. What he can do, though, is tell his...

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Immigrants to America
Lessons from a Trip to Boston

Posted by on Jun 24, 2014 in U.S. Immigration News

Last week, I was up in the Northeast. I spent the weekend in Groton, Connecticut with my brother and his family and then, on Tuesday, I headed north towards Boston for our American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) Annual Conference. En route from Groton to Boston, I stopped in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Or as they like to call it “America’s Hometown.” I loved the perfect combination of being an immigration lawyer in what’s considered to be the landing place of our country’s first immigrants. The city is...

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The Puzzle of Acquiring U.S. Citizenship

Posted by on Jun 16, 2014 in Strategy

The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitutions tells us who is a U.S. citizen: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.” This looks and sounds straightforward, but like nearly all things immigration-related, there is a lot of room for interpretation. Becoming a U.S. citizen can happen through a variety of ways such as birth in the United States, the process of naturalizing, deriving citizenship when you are...

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Successful U Visa RFEs

Posted by on Jun 10, 2014 in Strategy

USCIS has been issuing more and more RFEs on U visas. Don’t be scared or give up hope if you receive one. With the right response, your approval should come within in just a few months – I certainly speak from experience. RFE stands for Request for Evidence. RFEs are issued by USCIS to ask for additional information in a case that has already been filed. Most of the time, U visa RFEs require an applicant to argue against the government’s interpretation of the law and legal standards on U visa adjudications. I tend to think that U visa...

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A Good Week

Posted by on Jun 4, 2014 in Interesting Events and Cases

There are some weeks where nothing seems to go right. Thankfully, I haven’t had one of those in a while (and I hope I’m not jinxing myself now). We’ve been fortunate to have a lot of good news, and I want to share some of the stories with you. Two VAWA Adjustment of Status cases were approved. Anytime someone takes that step from being undocumented to having a green card is fantastic. However, when it’s someone who has been abused and controlled by a U.S. citizen spouse who likely said “I can have you deported if...

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Handling complex family and humanitarian immigration matters.