Recent Notes as Per Meeting with USCIS Office in Jacksonville, FL and Fraud Waivers
January 19, 2012 by Immigration Law Attorney Lena Korial-Yonan, Esq.
Every month or so, USCIS allows a meeting with five attorneys and with the USCIS Supervisor and USCIS Officers to discuss recent events or attorney questions about procedures of the USCIS office in Jacksonville, FL. A recent meeting was held in December of 2011, and some of the key issues that were discussed are explained below.
Emergency Travel Documents:
Emergency advance parole (I-131) based on a pending green card case can be directly filed with the USCIS office in Jacksonville. My understanding is that the Form I-131, Permission to travel, can be filed under normal procedures. Then once the Notice of Action, Receipt Notice, arrives in the mail, an info pass appointment can be made with the local office in Jacksonville, FL to discuss whether the Officer is willing to issue an Emergency advance parole. Of course, you must take with you proof of the "emergency" that you are basing your request on. Also, it is a good idea to take with you two passport style photos in case the Officer needs them.
Cubans who entered illegally:
The Jacksonville USCIS office is willing to issue initial parole cards to Cubans who enter the U.S. illegally. The procedure is that the applicant must make an info pass appointment and bring proof of his identity and proof of his Cuban nationality. The Officer(s) will meet with the applicant and make a determination within 30 days as to whether the applicant will receive an initial parole card. The Officer will conduct a background check on the applicant.
Once the Cuban national receives the initial parole status, he or she can apply for employment authorization, etc.
Documents Explained for "Joint Documentation" to show validity of Marriage
A question was raised as to why the Officers insist on joint documentation, when many of the couples do not have the appropriate amounts of documents due to their recent marriage, due to not having a social security number, etc.
The Officer(s) answer is that joint documents are needed to show the validity of the marriage, and the Officer felt it was irrelevant that the applicant may or may not have a social security number, etc. The joint documents are needed to show the "bona fides" of the marriage, as the Officer explained.
Fraud Marriage Interviews when the couple is separated
The Officer(s) explained that the couple is free to leave any marriage interview with USCIS at any time, as long as they understand that the case will be denied and that the beneficiary seeking relief will be placed in removal proceedings, i.e. deportation. Please note that the couple may or may not be able to leave, once they are handed over to ICE officers. Once the USCIS Office starts questioning, if he or she suspects fraud, he or she can call ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), and ICE officers will take the couple to another part of the building and do their own questioning.
Often this happens if the U.S. citizen refuses to withdraw, or close, the case that he or she filed on behalf of their husband. Once ICE Officers take over the couple, the couple is then once again separated and questioned separately. The ICE interviews are always videotaped and will be used against the couple if criminal proceedings are initiated.
It is Criminal liability for a U.S. citizen to marry a person for the green card. Therefore, caution should be exercised by all U.S. citizens that if they marry and file paperwork for their spouse, they must be sure the marriage is "real," i.e. no money was paid to enter the marriage, etc. The marriage should also be consummated, all things considered. Of course if one of the couple is unable to physically consummate the marriage due to a physical inability, then there is an exception that can be made, in the Officer's discretion, if there is proof of other bona fides of the marriage.
Fraud Waivers as adjudicated by USCIS Office in Jacksonville, FL
While this issue was not discussed at the most recent Liaison meeting with USCIS, I have recently handled several cases dealing with fraud waivers. The USCIS officers in Jacksonville, FL deny the majority of these fraud waiver cases. A fraud waiver is needed when someone enters the U.S. with someone else's passport, i.e. fake passport. They usually pay a lot of money for that passport that they purchase just so that they can enter the U.S. Usually we know the person used a fake passport based on their port of entry. If the person enters through Atlanta, Georgia airport of Miami, FL airport, for example, then we can assume the person used a fake passport, absent any legal visa for entry in that person's own name.
If the person used a fake passport and then marries a U.S. citizen in good faith, that person can apply for the green card here in the U.S. as long as they attach a Fraud waiver with that application. To be eligible for the fraud waiver, the U.S. citizen spouse must show that he or she will suffer extreme and unusual hardship if their spouse is deported from the U.S. It is in the Officer's discretion whether the waiver will be approved or not, and in Jacksonville, the chances are that the case will NOT be approved.
I have recently been able to obtain an approval for one of my "arriving alien" clients who filed his green card directly with USCIS, despite having had removal issues in the past. Usually anyone with a final removal order or removal issues in the past should file their application with the Immigration Judge or with USCIS upon the Immigration Judge's written permission. There is an exception, which is if the applicant is considered an arriving alien.
I am pleased to say that one of my clients was classified as an arriving alien, and so we filed directly with USCIS. My client had initially entered the U.S. through Miami, FL, and so he had used a fake passport to enter the U.S. My client and his wife are fairly young, in their early twenties, and have no children. They also are perfectly healthy, and so we cannot say that the U.S. citizen wife needs to remain in the U.S. for healthcare, medicine, etc. The wife was also born and raised in the same country as the applicant, and so she even spoke the same language, was familiar with the culture, etc. All of these factors taken together were very bad for my clients.
However, I noticed that the applicant had entered the country as a minor, at the age of sixteen years old, when he was under the case of his father. Based on the argument that a fraud waiver is not even needed because the applicant did not knowingly commit fraud or even understand what his father was doing, we were able to get the fraud waiver approved! The Officer said that he would want us to file the fraud waiver, but that he would approve the fraud waiver because the applicant was under 18 years old and therefore was a minor. In order to commit fraud, the applicant must have taken action that is considered knowing, voluntary and willing to commit fraud. There is an exact definition of fraud that we listed for the Officer, and we explained each element to show that a minor who entered with his dad could not have met the definition of "fraud." Our client has now received the green card.
Because our client also had a final order of removal against him issued by the Immigration Judge in Orlando, FL, we also filed a Motion to Reopen Removal proceedings Solely for the purpose of terminating removal proceedings. We filed this Motion to reopen with the Board of Immigration Appeals, because that was the agency that last dealt with the applicant's removal proceedings.
Processing Times for the Green card in Jacksonville, FL
The processing time for green cards in Jacksonville, FL is 3-4 months , including the actual mailing of the green card. Some cases are processed even faster than that, but we cannot ensure that each client's case will be adjudicated within 2 months. Therefore we ask our clients to expect the average processing time of 3-4 months.
Spouses of Military Officers who are Deployed
It is good for the applicant, i.e. alien, to still appear for any scheduled interview with USCIS even if the U.S. citizen husband is deployed as part of his or her employment with the U.S. military, navy, etc. However, it is extremely important to bring proof of deployment through letter(s) of employment and proof of employment, as well as proof of U.S. citizenship and the original or certified copy of marriage license to the scheduled USCIS interview.
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Lena Korial-Yonan, P.A.
9425 Craven Road, Suite 5
Jacksonville, FL 32257
Phone: (904) 448-6646
Facsimile: (904) 448-8221