We are thrilled to announce what may be the first ever green card given by USCIS to a foreign national who crossed over at the Mexican border without any type of visa or other authorization to enter the United States. While cases like this are not that uncommon on the Canadian border due to different procedures, it is unheard of for individuals who have crossed over from Mexico. We have many clients in this situation and we tell them that we can win the case in immigration court after they have been put into deportation proceedings, but winning at a USCIS green card hearing just isn’t done. Until now. As the agent told us, this was the first time that USCIS in San Bernardino had ever issued a green card to an individual in this situation.
When we first met our client, she told us that she had entered the country illegally. After reviewing our extensive questionnaire that she filled out, it became clear to us that she did not enter illegally, but rather, she entered without an I-94 or other type of authorization. And due to our understanding of this area of immigration law, we know that there’s a big difference between coming illegally (entry without inspection, often done with the coyote over the rivers or hills along the border with Mexico) and actually being “admitted and inspected.” When clients of ours are in immigration court with these facts, they are called “waive through” cases. Unfortunately, many immigration practitioners are unaware of the line of cases that allow foreign nationals to adjust their status within the United States and get their green card “if they have been admitted and inspected. ” Too many practitioners think that if the client does not have an I – 94 then that client entered illegally. This is not true.
For this client, we were fortunate to have a number of United States citizens who accompanied her on the car trip over the border 10 years ago. We also had our client take a polygraph test and presented the findings to the USCIS authorities. And of course, as is our trademark, we filed an extensive legal brief with accompanying cases for the hearing officer. The hearing officer was very gracious and asked if he could in order to do a training for his office.
Our client received her green card without ever having to go to immigration court – – thus saving her an additional $4000.
Moral of the story: immigration law is so nuanced that precise knowledge of sometimes arcane aspects of the law can be vital for case. On the other hand, sometimes extensive questionnaires and interviews turn out to be the turning point for a case that otherwise would look hopeless. And, it always pays to hire an attorney who will treat even a USCIS interview as if it were us court case in front of the United States Supreme Court. It may mean more money up front, but in the end it always saves money, time and considerable anxiety.