Articles Posted in Fraud

In this live stream, attorneys Jacob Sapochnick and Marie Puertollano discuss recent topics in immigration including the new USCIS policy giving immigration officers ample discretion to deny an application or petition filed with USCIS without first issuing a RFE or NOID, suspension of premium processing, fraudulent H-1B schemes, and more.

Overview:

RFE/NOID Policy

Beginning September 11, if you do not provide sufficient evidence to establish that you are eligible for the immigration benefit you are requesting, USCIS may exercise their discretion and deny your petition without first issuing a request for evidence or RFE. This new policy applies to all applications and petitions filed after September 11th, with the exception of DACA renewal applications.  The decision to deny your application or petition without issuing a RFE or NOID will ultimately be up to the discretion of the officer reviewing your petition. An officer may in his discretion continue to issue a RFE or NOID according to his best judgement.

If you are filing for a change of status or extension of your status, we recommend that you file early, so that you are not out of status in the case that USCIS denies your request for an immigration benefit. This will give you the opportunity to either re-file or to consider changing your status to another visa type. In addition, if you have the ability to apply for premium processing service, you should take advantage of that service.

Suspension of Premium Processing

At the moment premium processing services have been temporary suspended for cap-subject petitions until February 19, 2019, with the exception of cap-exempt petitions filed exclusively at the California Service Center, because the employer is cap-exempt or because the beneficiary will be employed at a qualifying cap exempt institution.

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In this video attorney Jacob Sapochnick covers the top ten tips to help you overcome the marriage fraud interview also known as the “STOKES” interview. A foreign national applying for permanent residence based on marriage may be required to attend a second interview. This typically occurs in cases where the officer, who interviewed the couple during the initial marriage interview, does not believe that the couple has a bona fide marriage, because of red flags that arose during the initial interview.

1. Be Honest

Our first tip to avoid being scheduled for a second interview also known as the STOKES interview is simple. Be honest with yourself, with your partner (the U.S. Citizen or LPR spouse), and your attorney if you have one. Before walking into your initial I-485 interview you should be careful not to misrepresent the facts in your relationship and ensure that you and your partner are both being honest and truthful regarding all aspects of your marriage. If you or your spouse misrepresent any facts about your relationship, the immigration officer will presume that you do not have a bona fide/genuine marriage, and it will be very difficult to overcome this presumption at the second interview.

2. Preparation

The second tip to avoid the STOKES interview is to be well prepared. You and your spouse should prepare all of your documentation proving bona fide marriage well in advance of your I-485 interview, so that you have enough time to review your documentation with your spouse and your attorney in preparation of your interview. This well make you feel more confident and prepared when it comes time to your I-485 interview.

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In this video, we discuss the difference between adjustment of status and consular processing.

What is adjustment of status?

Adjustment of Status is the process by which a foreign national applies for permanent residence, essentially their green card, within the United States. In order to apply for adjustment of status within the United States, the foreign national must have entered the United States lawfully (typically on a U.S. visa) and be married to a U.S. Citizen. The foreign national must not have entered the marriage within the first 90 days of entry to the United States. Doing so creates a presumption of fraud and the couple will be denied at the green card interview.

Example: The foreign national entered the U.S. on a student visa, and later met a U.S. Citizen. The couple then became engaged, and married in the U.S.

The process begins with the filing of the following forms typically at the same time:

  • I-130 petition for alien relative (signed by the U.S. citizen)
  • I-485 application for adjustment of status aka the green card application (signed by the foreign national)
  • I-765 application for employment authorization (signed by the foreign national)
  • I-131 application for travel document (signed by the foreign national)
  • G-325A biographical information (signed by both the U.S. Citizen spouse and foreign national)
  • I-864 Affidavit of Support (signed by the U.S. Citizen)

The process ends with a green card interview before a USCIS immigration officer at a field office near the couple’s place of residence. The purpose of the interview is to determine whether the couple has a bona fide marriage. Both the petitioner and foreign national must attend this interview.

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Learn more about the new 90-day presumption of fraud rule in this video and how it affects the adjustment of status of foreign nationals living in the United States.

0:24 – New Rule Changes

0:52 – What is 90-day Rule Do?

1:37 – Our advice or suggestions for this new rule

Overview: 

WHO:

In September 2017 the Department of State released an amended version of the Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM), which is a manual used by governmental agencies and other federal agencies that directs and codifies information that must be carried out by respective agencies “in accordance with statutory, executive and Department mandates.”

WHAT:

The new amended version of the manual expands the definition of misrepresentation, the types of activities that may support a presumption of fraud, and establishes changes to existing policies that federal agents must follow in making assessments of fraud or material representation.

According to the amended FAM: If a foreign national engages in any of the following activities, and applies for an immigration benefit, the FAM directs immigration officers to apply a presumption of fraud or material misrepresentation when the foreign national seeks adjustment of status:

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In this segment Attorney Jacob J. Sapochnick Esq. discusses the STOKES interview otherwise known as the infamous “fraud interview” for the green card application. During the STOKES interview the US Citizen petitioner is separated from the foreign spouse for questioning. The STOKES interview is typically scheduled when couples do not provide enough evidence of bona fide marriage and cohabitation, or when the testimony provided by the couple during the first interview contains discrepancies and/or is inconsistent. Couples may also be scheduled for a STOKES interview if USCIS is concerned about something that came up during the foreign spouse’s background screening process. In this segment we talk you through the STOKES interview process, and tell you how you can avoid such an interview. For more information regarding the green card application please visit our website.

Overview

Before a green card may be issued to any foreign national, the applicant must attend what is known as the green card interview. In the case of applying for adjustment of status on the basis of marriage to a US Citizen or LPR spouse, the couple must attend the green card interview together. At the time of the interview, the immigration officer will ask the couple to present evidence of good faith marriage and cohabitation. The burden of proof lies on the applicant to prove that they entered their marriage in good faith and not for the purposes of obtaining an immigration benefit or evading the laws of the United States. Failure to provide substantial evidence of good faith marriage, and proof that you have been residing with your spouse throughout your marriage, may result in a STOKES interview. USCIS immigration officers are trained to spot any inconsistencies and/or discrepancies that may arise during the green card interview. To avoid the STOKES interview it is important to organize your evidence and prepare with an attorney before hand.

Typically a STOKES interview notice is issued after the couple has attended the first interview. The couple is interviewed for a second time to address inconsistencies and/or discrepancies that arose during the first interview session. STOKES interviews are stressful, extensive, and have been known to last up to 8 hours depending on the complexity of the case. It is best to avoid the situation entirely and attend your green card interview with an experienced attorney, who can prepare you and perform a “mock” interview with you and your spouse to identify any potential issues.

Our office has extensive experience preparing for and attending STOKES interviews. It is important to provide as much evidence of “good faith” marriage and cohabitation as possible to avoid such interviews.

For a free consultation please contact us.

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