When people think of attorneys and what we do to fight for our clients, they typically think of courtrooms, judges, “I object!” and other Hollywood movie images. Even for those immigration attorneys who often appear in Immigration Court, the reality is far different than what you may see on your favorite TV show or in a favorite crime movie.
I very rarely go to Immigration Court. Most of the work I do on behalf of clients is either done in writing – submitting applications that require extensive documentation and lengthy cover letters, or in an interview which is non-adversarial – there’s no judge at USCIS when you go for a green card interview; I have a conversation with an Immigration Service Officer about the facts of the case and explain why my client is eligible for the benefit they’re seeking.
However, there’s another tool that I use to advocate or fight for my clients. They may never see me use it, but that’s okay. It’s called liaison work and it’s done behind the scenes. It can be individual liaison work or it can be very broad liaison work.
Individual liaison work is asking USCIS about a specific case. Why is the case taking longer than expected to adjudicate? Why did you apply the law X way, when it should be applied Z way? Liaison work can also be about asking for changes in general, not just for my client, though.
I’m honored to work with the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) on the USCIS Field Operations Liaison Committee where we get to monitor and report back to USCIS on what could work better at USCIS Field Offices around the country. By working together with USCIS, we’re able to help them identify areas that perhaps need a bit more attention – be it new guidance or entirely new policies. This type of liaison work impacts applicants all around the country.
I recently gave an overview of what we discussed with USCIS at our most recent meeting in Washington, DC. If you’re interested to learn what that national liaison work looks like, please watch.