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

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Let Us Pray

Posted by on Feb 7, 2016 in Blog, Interesting Events and Cases

In 2014, a family from rural Georgia hired me to help them on the long immigration journey of filing an I-130, I-601A provisional waiver and then consular process an immigrant visa through Ciudad Juarez. Israel had been in the U.S., undocumented, since he was a teenager. His wife, Gloria, came from a Mexican family, but was born in the United States. Israel and Gloria have three young girls – all under the age of 10. Israel and Gloria are people of faith. But more than that, they practice what they preach. They not only go to church...

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The Elusive and Misunderstood S Visa

Posted by on Jan 28, 2016 in Blog, Strategy

Winning the lottery, being struck by lightning, seeing an albino giraffe – the chances of all of these things happening seem higher to me than getting an S visa. S visas were created for criminal informants – people involved in criminal activity, but who could turn into witnesses for the prosecution. I sometimes call it a “snitch” visa, but that’s not probably not the nicest way to refer to it. The way an S visa usually works is that it may be offered as part of a plea deal by a law enforcement agency. They’ll...

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What Motivates Me

Posted by on Jan 10, 2016 in Opinion

Did you make any resolutions for the new year? I didn’t. I know enough about myself that I probably won’t stick to a plan to practice yoga, study Spanish, eat better, and stress less. I can have the best schedule in place, the best teachers, the best recipes – but after a few weeks, I find it hard to stay motivated. After nine years of working in immigration law, though, I still feel just as motivated to get up and fight every morning as I did on the first day. If you watch the news, you would think that immigration law is the most...

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2015: A Look Back at Klinke Immigration

Posted by on Dec 29, 2015 in Blog, Interesting Events and Cases

I don’t think 2015 was quite the year anyone in the immigration field hoped for. We had dreams of expanded DACA and DAPA. We had hopes for higher asylum grant rates, the closure of family immigration detention facilities, and the broader use of prosecutorial discretion. None of these things happened. Yet, small victories were won every day. I recently took a moment to look back on 132 cases we closed this year. While it’s true that not every case ended with good news, over 95% of them did. And these cases are more than files and paperwork....

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Marriage, Travel & Last-Minute Decisions

Posted by on Dec 18, 2015 in Strategy

The holidays are often a time of magic, love, family and travel. It’s no wonder that many couples get engaged this time of the year. I met with a couple last week that reminded me of this, and how immigration, romance and the realities of life don’t always work together seamlessly. They didn’t know what the immigration process was going to look like, so before even getting engaged, they came in to speak with me. We talked about Consular Processing and Adjustment of Status. With Consular Processing, the foreign national would...

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The Best Gift
Family Reunification After U Visa Approval

Posted by on Dec 4, 2015 in Interesting Events and Cases

Last week marked the unofficial beginning of the holiday shopping season with Black Friday. I am not one to get carried away with braving the early morning chaos at the mall to score a good deal, but if you are or if you got all of your holiday shopping done already – bravo! I haven’t even started my shopping. Although I don’t buy gifts for clients, I am helping one client get one of the best gifts of all for Christmas – her family together for the first time in 15 years. Tina has been in the U.S. for 15 years and her...

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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?
Wrong!

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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Handling complex family and humanitarian immigration matters.