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

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Our Refugee System Is Not Broken

Posted by on Nov 23, 2015 in Opinion

There has been a lot of attention given to the refugee process over the past several days. Most of it has been heartbreaking – wanting to close our borders to those most in need. But, out of this has also come a great wealth of information about our refugee process. Any opportunity to educate is a good, and I encourage you to learn more about the U.S. refugee application and vetting process through this chart (PDF, opens in new window). When your laptop is broken, you don’t turn your oven on and off, hoping that your laptop will...

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VAWA, Abusers & the Struggle to Leave

Posted by on Nov 16, 2015 in Domestic Violence

Attorneys are called many things. Yes – I know, you’re thinking of the jokes and the horrible things that we can get called, and some attorneys rightfully deserve to be called crooks, rats, and far worse. What I’m thinking of, though, is that we’re also called counselors. I’m not a licensed counselor and I have no desire to be one, but with many of the clients I work with and the psychological trauma they endure, I have to be attuned to their mental needs more than, say, a bankruptcy attorney. Under VAWA, there...

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Decision – Breaking News on DACA/DAPA

Posted by on Nov 9, 2015 in Reform

On Monday, November 9th, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals finally issued a ruling on President Obama’s Deferred Action plans – the Expanded DACA and DAPA that he announced back on November 20, 2014. Expanded DACA and DAPA remain blocked. The court said that the President lacked the authority to issue these two programs. The decision is not a surprise. In fact, you can even say that the decision is good news. Why? Because now there is something to appeal. For several months, it seemed as though the 5th Circuit was deliberately stalling, trying...

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On the U Visa Waitlist?

Posted by on Nov 7, 2015 in U.S. Immigration News

Over the past few years, we’ve talked about how only 10,000 U visas are available each year, and how on October 1 each year – the start of the government’s fiscal year and when new visas become available – U visas are gone faster and faster. We are now at a point where so many U applications have been filed and provisionally approved that the waitlist has grown to over 30,000; maybe even closer to 50,000. That means if someone applies for a U visa now – in November 2015 – they may not actually get the...

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Conflicts of Interest & Relationship Uncertainties
in VAWA and I-751 Waiver Cases

Posted by on Oct 25, 2015 in Domestic Violence

VAWA and I-751 Waiver cases inherently involve one side saying unflattering things against another. An abused client in a VAWA case has to prove to USCIS that they suffered extreme cruelty from their U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident family member. The stories they share and the documents they have to obtain are never kind towards the abuser – for obvious reasons. In an I-751 Waiver case, there’s either been abuse or a divorce, both of which often leave strong negative feelings between former spouses. Many times, clients...

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No Reform Means No Change to Immigration, Right?

Posted by on Oct 15, 2015 in Reform

It’s been several months since we’ve heard anything about immigration reform. Deferred Action for Parents (DAPA) and Expanded DACA remain stuck in Federal Court, and we may not have a decision on those programs until President Obama is out of office. Comprehensive Immigration Reform that would require Congress to act together seems laughable right now. But, just because these big actions aren’t happening doesn’t mean that nothing is happening. There is a lot going on in the world of immigration if you look just below the surface. The laws may...

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Bad Decision by USCIS on Survivor Petition

Posted by on Sep 27, 2015 in Opinion

Over the summer, I met a woman who had gone through something no parent should ever have to endure. Her son, who was only 30 years old, had just died unexpectedly. In the midst of dealing with his funeral, his estate, and the unimaginable grief of losing of her only son, she also had to think about U.S. immigration laws. The woman’s son had filed a petition for her to obtain her green card a few months prior to his death. When he died, the case was still pending. Trying to do the right thing, she wrote a letter to USCIS explaining the...

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Why a Man Would Apply for VAWA

Posted by on Sep 19, 2015 in Strategy

VAWA stands for Violence Against Women Act. But don’t let the name fool you. VAWA can be an option for men. I had a consultation recently for a man from West Africa. He and his wife had filed for him to get his green card several times and had always been denied. It looked like they were about to be denied yet again. He explained to me how they had been denied for avoidable reasons: something hadn’t been filed correctly, he didn’t respond to a Request for Evidence, or she didn’t show up for their interview at the...

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What Happens When You Don’t File an I-751

Posted by on Sep 8, 2015 in Strategy

Whenever someone obtains a green card through marriage to a U.S. citizen and the case was approved before the two-year wedding anniversary, USCIS will only grant a two-year green card. This is called conditional residency. Anyone with conditional residency has to go through a process called “removing the conditions” in order to obtain their full permanent lawful resident status. The form used to do this is an I-751. Removing the conditions on a conditional green card isn’t optional, though many people don’t do it. This...

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Parole in Place
Three Weeks and Three Wins

Posted by on Aug 24, 2015 in Interesting Events and Cases

The past few weeks have been full of great news for military families at Klinke Immigration. We’ve had three Adjustment of Status applications granted for clients who were initially granted Parole in Place. Parole in Place, as you may recall, grants certain family members of current or former U.S. military members “forgiveness” for their illegal entry to the United States. Many times, the illegal entry is the only reason keeping them from being eligible to obtain a green card. Parole in Place removes the obstacle. I attended Adjustment of...

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A Great Injustice

Posted by on Aug 8, 2015 in Interesting Events and Cases

I will be haunted by her eyes. Dark, scared, full of tears that won’t come out. But she didn’t always look like that. There were moments of hope when she smiled, when she allowed herself to think about what a life in the United States would look like. Those smiles are gone now, thousands of miles away. Nearly two years ago, I met this young woman. She came from a country in the Middle East and entered the U.S. legally on a tourist visa. Within a few weeks of being here, she met a young man, fell in love, and was promised marriage....

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Green Card Eligibility through DACA
and Advance Parole Travel

Posted by on Jul 19, 2015 in Strategy

You’ve heard me say it over and over again. DACA, by itself, does not lead to anything permanent. It’s a temporary solution that allows people to stay in the United States without the threat of deportation. But, in certain circumstances, DACA can be an ingredient in the recipe for someone to obtain a green card. Let me explain. In order to apply for your green card through Adjustment of Status in the United States, one of the things you need is a legal entry into the United States. If you don’t have one, or if you don’t meet one of the small...

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Things I Learned in D.C.
Hot Immigration Topics in 2015

Posted by on Jul 19, 2015 in U.S. Immigration News

Every June, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) holds its Annual Conference. This year, 3,000 immigration attorneys and paralegals converged on Washington, D.C. for three days of learning about all things immigration. With over 140 sessions, I couldn’t attend each one, but the ones that I sat in on all provided excellent information on how to improve my practice and how to be an even better lawyer. The world of immigration law is constantly changing. Events like the AILA Annual Conference allow attorneys to share their...

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Winning an Impossible Trafficking Case

Posted by on Jun 23, 2015 in Interesting Events and Cases

Every case has its challenges, but some cases have more than their share of problems. About a year ago, I met Carol (not her real name). Carol is from South Korea and had come to the U.S. with the “help” of a “travel agent” in 2002. She thought she was coming to work in retail or to house clean – she owed the agent money from a loan and was told the fastest way to pay it back would be to come to the United States to work. Only, once she arrived, she quickly learned that the travel agent had another job for her in...

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Do You Need an Immigration Attorney?

Posted by on Jun 3, 2015 in Interesting Events and Cases

Yes – Here’s Why: Last week, I had a consultation that absolutely broke my heart. Why? Because a very nice 22 year old man – a husband and father of two – made a few innocent, but horrible decisions that destroyed his chances to gain lawful immigration status in the United States. And it could have all been avoided had he spoken with an immigration attorney. Let’s call him Jorge. Jorge entered the United States with a visa when he was 10 years old and stayed. In 2012, he married a U.S. citizen. He could have applied for Adjustment of Status...

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DACA & DAPA Reform Still Blocked – But Not Dead

Posted by on May 28, 2015 in Reform

This past Tuesday, May 26th, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision regarding the 2014 immigration programs of Expanded DACA and DAPA. It was not the news I was hoping for, though it is not a shock since the Fifth Circuit is known to be conservative. The Court said that Expanded DACA and DAPA cannot begin while there is an on-going court case. Remember, there is still a lawsuit that says that President Obama overstepped his authority when he created these immigration programs. There has been no decision on that case – there...

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Where Everybody Knows Your Name at USCIS

Posted by on May 15, 2015 in U.S. Immigration News

Growing up, one of my favorite shows was Cheers – and they had a beautiful theme song. The chorus was “sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name.” And that’s true when you go to your favorite bar or restaurant. But when you go for your green card or naturalization interview, you may not want everyone to know your name. What if you’ve fled an abusive spouse and you’re attempting to gain status through the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)? Or what if you’re a child who has been declared...

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New Perspective on I-601A Waivers

Posted by on Apr 29, 2015 in Strategy

Recently, I was in Washington DC and had the privilege of meeting with, and listening to, USCIS officials. A hot topic of discussion was the I-601A waiver adjudication process. Many immigration attorneys feel as though it is more difficult to have an I‑601A waiver approved than it is to have a traditional I-601 approved, and we wanted to know why. The standard for both is the same – both must show “extreme hardship” to a qualifying relative, yet it seems that extreme hardship has been harder to demonstrate for an...

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When Something as Simple as Your Last Name Isn’t So Simple

Posted by on Apr 18, 2015 in Strategy

You may think that your last name (sometimes called your “family name”) is very straightforward. However, like nearly everything else in immigration law, nothing is as simple as it may first seem. One of the most common questions I get regarding last names come from newlywed women – and now also from some men in same-sex relationships – who want to know whether or not they should take their husband’s last name. They think that it may make their marriage-based case look weak if they opt to keep their maiden name....

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Being an Ethical Immigration Attorney

Posted by on Apr 8, 2015 in Lawyer Information

Recently, I’ve had a few uncomfortable consultations where prospective clients clearly thought I could twist facts, make up stories, or do other things to help them win their cases. I’ve had to explain that my responsibility as an attorney is to help them navigate the immigration system and to use the true facts of their story to build their case – not to craft a story for them. I understand that in other countries, or even in other areas of law in this country, the role of an attorney can be very different. At the end of...

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Handling complex family and humanitarian immigration matters.