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Journey to Citizenship Overcoming Trauma and USCIS Delays

Journey to Citizenship: Overcoming Trauma and USCIS Delays

Four years ago, a wonderful person came to my office seeking help. She was confused about what USCIS planned to do with her “green card” and was terrified that she would be deported from the United States. She was faced with a devastating decision of whether to bring her young US citizen daughters to live in her home country, where deadly violence was rampant, or leave them in the US without her.

She came to me because USCIS had sent her a “Request for Evidence” (RFE) after she and her now ex-husband had submitted Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Lawful Permanent Residence. She and her ex-husband had split up, and he refused to assist her with the case. The client informed me about her experience with her ex-husband, and it became apparent that he had subjected her to abuse and extreme cruelty. We decided to file a waiver of the “joint” I-751 petition based on abuse. This meant that we would renew her “green card” without her husband’s support by explaining that he, a US citizen, had abused her during their marriage.

For the next few months, the client worked with me to prepare a clear explanation of her experiences with her abusive husband. We submitted the petition and hoped for a speedy approval by USCIS. However, many months passed, and there was still no decision by USCIS. The client then decided to file for US citizenship, once again explaining that she was eligible based on her ex-husband’s abuse of her.

Then, two years after the client first hired me, USCIS scheduled her for an interview on her I-751 Petition and N-400 Application for Naturalization (Citizenship). While we prepared for the interview, we realized that the client had forgotten important information in prior USCIS applications. We discovered that the client had blocked out the memory of a prior abusive marriage that she had not previously disclosed on USCIS applications. We quickly connected the client to a mental health specialist who could analyze why the client had forgotten about her first marriage when she had been previously asked about all of her past marriages. The mental health specialist determined that the client suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress, which caused her brain to protect itself by suppressing memories of past abuse, including her entire first marriage. The mental health specialist explained that this was a common response to trauma, and the client’s mistake in not previously mentioning the marriage was not an intentional lie–it was a trick her brain played on her to help her survive after trauma.

We attended the interview, confident that we could explain the client’s full story and all inconsistencies in her past applications. Unfortunately, we ended up with an officer who doubted her answers throughout the interview and distorted what she said over and over, despite my corrections to his mistaken understanding of her answers. He wrote a statement that he wanted her to sign, and I insisted that he correct it four times because he repeatedly misstated the client’s answers in the written document. I spoke with a supervisor and explained how we presented our case clearly and proved that the client was eligible for the green card and citizenship applications to be approved. However, both the USCIS supervisor and officer refused to approve the decision that day.

After the interview, several months passed before we heard anything from USCIS. I contacted them on multiple occasions, but still, there was no decision. Finally, after almost two years since the client hired me, USCIS approved her I-751 Petition, and her green card was extended for another ten years. While it was great news, I knew that the client was still waiting for her citizenship application to be approved. I considered suing the federal government over the delay, but the client was hesitant to take that step. So, I kept pestering USCIS until we finally saw an online update, almost three years after the client hired me, that her case had been scheduled for a Naturalization Oath Ceremony. The client, her family, and my entire team were thrilled that she finally received the result that she deserved. Our client is now a proud U.S. citizen.

Ellen Sullivan, Esq.   Founding Attorney Cambridge Immigration Law, P.C., April 11, 2023

 

If you need to talk to an experienced immigration attorney. We’ve helped hundreds of people traverse the complicated immigration and citizenship process. We would love to help you as well.  Call (617-272-7980) or email hello@cambridgeimmigrationlaw.com to get in touch.

Expedited Travel Document and Green Card in One Visit

Expedited Travel Document and Green Card in One Visit

Recently, we were able to help one of our clients to get approval on her green card and expedited travel documents. She got a change to visit their very ill mother in India. Our client was waiting on a pending green card application and urgently needed to leave the country. She wanted to see her ill mother and to take care of her. Our attorney was able to get her an appointment to request to expedite her application for a travel document at USCIS. The appointment went so well that not only did our client leave with an approved travel document,  which allowed her to leave the country to visit her mother, she also left the appointment with an approved green card!

 

If you need to talk to an experienced immigration attorney. We’ve helped hundreds of couples traverse the complicated immigration and citizenship process. We would love to help you as well.  Call 617-714-4375 or email hello@cambridgeimmigrationlaw.com to get in touch.

USCIS offices to waive up to 80% of family-based interviews

USCIS offices to waive up to 80% of family-based interviews

USCIS District 11 (MA/RI/NH/ME/VT) recently announced that USCIS National has directed local USCIS offices to waive up to 80% of family-based interviews. This is a huge change in USCIS practice, especially for marriage-based green card cases. Historically, almost ALL marriage-based green card cases required the US citizen spouse and the noncitizen spouse to appear at at USCIS office for an interview, before the green-card could be approved. Now, USCIS plans to approve almost all without an interview.

This change is great for YOU! First, this is likely to reduce the processing time for the green-card application. Currently, in Massachusetts, marriage-based green card applications take about 6-12 months to get approved. We expect this processing time to drop significantly with this big change. Second, you will not have to spend so much of your precious time on the USCIS interview. You won’t need to prepare for the family-based interview, travel to the interview, or spend hours at the USCIS office for the interview. Finally, your legal fees decrease with this change because you do not need to hire a lawyer to meet with you to prepare testimony for the interview, update your marriage-documents, travel to the USCIS office, wait for the interview to be called, and represent you at the USCIS interview.

USCIS may call you for an interview, and we don’t yet know what that will mean. Are all cases called for an interview in bad shape? Or, will USCIS conduct some randomized interviews regardless of how the paper application looks? What we do know is that this change makes your submission of your paper application all the more important. That paper application, if prepared correctly and thoroughly, could result in your green card being approved. You don’t want to hold back on submitting certain documents or the medical exam “until the interview” because your goal now is to NOT have an interview.

Our team at Cambridge Immigration Law focuses on representing clients on marriage-based immigration applications. We make sure that our clients submit the best application possible. We believe that our clients will have an excellent opportunity to avoid the USCIS interview!

Peace of Mind After 11 Years!

Green card approved after winning the removal proceedings

This week our firm obtained a big win for one of our clients at their removal hearing. Our client had been in removal proceedings since 2011. Our client suffered 11 years of stress because of the removal proceedings.

Our attorney was able to gather strong evidence and argued a strong compelling argument in favor of our client. The court granted our client his green card. Not only will our client get his green card, but he will also have peace of mind and the opportunity to build a future in the United States.

 

If you and your partner are beginning the green card process as an affianced couple or as a married couple, you should discuss your situation with an experienced immigration attorney. We’ve helped hundreds of couples traverse the complicated immigration and citizenship process. We would love to help you as well. Call 617-714-4375 or email hello@cambridgeimmigrationlaw.com to get in touch.

Temporary Protected Status Approval for Healthcare Worker

Temporary Protected Status Approval

Last year the Secretary of Homeland Security designated Haiti for Temporary Protected Status.  Our client, a Haiti national, hired us to apply for TPS, an employment authorization document and a temporary travel permit.  After waiting for over a year, his applications were approved! With his approved work permit he is able to continue his medical training and to work in a field that is always in demand but constantly understaffed.

 

If you need to talk to an experienced immigration attorney. We’ve helped hundreds of couples traverse the complicated immigration and citizenship process. We would love to help you as well.  Call 617-714-4375 or email hello@cambridgeimmigrationlaw.com to get in touch.

Two Approved Naturalization Applications in One Week

Approved naturalizationLast week, two of our clients had their Naturalization interviews.  Their naturalization applications both got approved!

One of cases dealt with a green card holder that after living in the U.S. for over 40 years finally decided to apply for their U.S. citizenship.  The other approval required intense preparation for the interview due to their prior arrest.

 

If you need to talk to an experienced immigration attorney. We’ve helped hundreds of couples traverse the complicated immigration and citizenship process. We would love to help you as well.  Call 617-714-4375 or email hello@cambridgeimmigrationlaw.com to get in touch.

Employment Authorization Documents Finally Approved!

Over the course of the past month, three of our clients’ employment authorization documents were approved. As a huge improvement over horrendously slow processing times at USCIS in the past few years, we are excited for these clients whose employment authorization documents approvals came just one month after filing for adjustment of status. The clients and their US citizen spouses are extremely happy that they will be able to further build their lives by working legally in the US, as they all await the processing of their green card applications.

 

If you and your partner are beginning the green card process as an affianced couple or as a married couple, you should discuss your situation with an experienced immigration attorney. We’ve helped hundreds of couples traverse the complicated immigration and citizenship process. We would love to help you as well. Call 617-714-4375 or email hello@cambridgeimmigrationlaw.com to get in touch.

Marriage Based Green Card Approved!

Marriage based green card approved!Recently, our client was thrilled that his marriage based green card was approved. Due to COVID travel restrictions and embassy closures, 2020 was a stressful year for him and his wife, but now they are at ease that their application has been approved.

 

If you need to talk to an experienced immigration attorney. We’ve helped hundreds of couples traverse the complicated immigration and citizenship process. We would love to help you as well.  Call 617-714-4375 or email hello@cambridgeimmigrationlaw.com to get in touch.

VAWA Green Card Removal of Conditions Approved

VAWA GREEN CARD REMOVAL OF CONDITIONS APPROVEDOur client is thrilled this week that her long, long pending green card renewal was approved. She originally filed it without an attorney and with her ex-spouse. When she hired our firm, we identified abuse in the relationship and represented her on a VAWA/ Abuse waiver for her I-751. It was pending for nearly 2 years and was finally approved last week. The next step for our client is approval of her pending citizenship application.

 

If you need to talk to an experienced immigration attorney. We’ve helped hundreds of couples traverse the complicated immigration and citizenship process. We would love to help you as well.  Call 617-714-4375 or email hello@cambridgeimmigrationlaw.com to get in touch.