It has been my practice when filing immigration petitions with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services ("USCIS") to cite to specific caselaw and to develop the legal arguments in support of the client's position. However, many immigration practitioners simply file the forms and an index with a stack of documents. In my opinion, such a practice fails to prepare a case for litigation, which as processing delays and denials increase, may become necessary. Indeed, denials for some categories has gone up over 60% in the last few years and many of those denials are simply baseless. The answer is to appeal to the courts but in order to do so, the petition must contain the appropriate legal arguments and evidence. In almost all cases, judicial review will be based on the record that is before the agency. That means that the immigration lawyer should present the legal arguments that are necessary when filing a petition for a particular category. A discussion of the facts and the application of the law to the facts is becoming ever so important when filing an immigration petition.
Nowadays, unreasonable or inordinate delays in immigration petition processing times are causing clients significant stress, particularly because travel may be restricted while the immigration petition or application is pending. However, there is a solution which may have been viewed as extreme in previous years, but which now is getting renewed attention. That solution is filing a lawsuit against the United States Immigration and Citizenship Services ("USCIS") in federal court under the Mandamus and Venue Act of 1962. Under this Act, the party bringing the lawsuit is demanding that the court order USCIS to act and adjudicate the petition or application. In such a case, the party bringing suit must show that he or she has a clear right to the relief requested, that the government has a clear duty to perform the act in question, and that there is no other adequate remedy available.
Visa denials have reached over 60% in certain categories, with the L-1 visa suffering the most repercussions. However, the answer may be filing a lawsuit in federal court. Many clients resist this option, but it is becoming more of a necessity. I have traditionally filed petitions and applications that have detailed legal arguments and are chocked full of relevant evidence so that if the client is willing and able, there is the availability of an appeal to the courts.
Under U.S. Immigration law, if you are an "immediate relative" of a U.S. citizen, you can become a U.S. permanent resident very quickly if your U.S. citizen relative files a petition on your behalf. For example, the spouse of a U.S. citizen, an unmarried child of a U.S. citizen under the age of 21, and the parent of a U.S. citizen (provided the U.S. citizen is at least 21 years old) are all "immediate relatives" and they can file a petition to adjust the status of their immediate relative and a "Green Card" will be immediately available.
By: Santiago J. Padilla, Esq.