Did You Receive An RFE? Here’s What to Do

A green card, Immigration lawyerPeople in Illinois who apply for green cards or other immigration statuses may receive requests for evidence, and they can respond in one of three ways. Immigrants may supply all of the information that was requested by the USCIS at once, submit some of the information, or withdraw their applications. People must respond to the RFEs within the timeframes that are stated in the notices. Receiving an RFE does not necessarily mean that the USCIS is planning to deny an application. Instead, it simply means that the agency needs additional information to make its decision.

Responding to an RFE

People who receive requests for evidence are only given one chance to respond. The USCIS requires applicants to submit all of the requested information at the same time. However, if people are unable to send everything at once, it is better for them to partially respond by sending what they have rather than ignoring the requests. People may also choose to withdraw their applications from consideration. It is a good idea for people to respond quickly when they receive RFEs so that the immigration officials will have enough time to consider their applications.

What Must Be Sent in an RFE Response?

Some RFEs will specifically list documents that are missing. If people receive requests for missing documents, they should gather them and submit them with their responses. Other RFEs may be more difficult to understand. They might cite statutes and regulations and ask the applicants to prove that they are eligible for the immigration statuses that they are seeking. Immigrants should make certain they understand what is requested so they can respond appropriately.

People should photocopy the RFE. They should then include the original as the first page of the packets they send. They should include letters that list the evidence that is included followed by the documents they are sending. RFE responses should be mailed to the USCIS at the provided address, and it is a good idea for people to get a delivery notification.

RFE Changes

The USCIS issued a memorandum in July 2018 that states that it now allows immigration adjudicators to issue denials without first sending an RFE if the initial application is incomplete. This makes it important for people to ensure that they complete their initial applications correctly and include all of the supporting evidence.

Applying for An Adjustment of Status? Start Here

An American Flag, Immigration LawyerEligible immigrants in Illinois may apply for an adjustment of status to become lawful permanent residents. To apply for an adjustment of status, it is important for immigrants to understand whether or not they are eligible, the correct forms to complete, and whether they might need someone else to serve as a sponsor. After the application is filed, there are several steps that will take place before a decision is made. Immigrants should be prepared for each step and complete their petitions correctly.

Eligibility for Adjustment of Status

An adjustment of status is the process that certain immigrants must go through if they want to become lawful permanent residents. Immigrants who may be eligible to apply for an adjustment of status include spouses, immediate family members, asylees or refugees, people who have won visas in the diversity lottery, Cuban nationals, and certain highly skilled workers who have employment-based visas.

There are some disqualifying factors for people who fall within the eligibility categories. People who have been convicted of certain crimes or who have disqualifying health conditions may be inadmissible. People who have previously broken the U.S. immigration laws, are considered to be threats to national security, or who are believed to be likely to become dependent on public welfare may also be deemed to be inadmissible.

Applying for Adjustment of Status

To apply for an adjustment of status, eligible immigrants must complete form I-485 along with documents that prove their eligibility. These include their birth certificates, USCIS medical examinations, passports, and proof that their sponsors will be able to support them financially. They may submit secondary evidence of one of the required documents are not available. They must also pay the fee of $1,225.

After the application is filed, immigrants can expect the process to take up to 11 months. During that time, they may have to attend an interview if the USCIS decides that one is necessary. Immigrants might also receive requests for more information and must respond with the requested documents. Once the application is processed and the USCIS makes its decision, it will issue the immigrant a decision. If the immigrant’s application is denied, he or she may file a motion to reconsider or a motion to reopen.

A Second Chance at Asylum?

boy in fencing, immigration attorneyUnder an agreement, asylum seekers who were separated from their families at the border earlier in 2018 and who were did not pass the credible fear test may now reapply for asylum. The agreement was reached between the federal government and immigration attorneys who sued on behalf of the asylum seekers, and it might affect immigrants in Illinois and elsewhere in the U.S. In the lawsuit, the lawyers had argued that the parents were not given adequate time to prepare their cases and were unable to talk about the dangers they faced in their home countries because of concerns that they had about the whereabouts of their children. The agreement makes it possible for some of these parents and children to be granted refugee status, allowing them to remain in the U.S.

Family Separations and Asylum Hearings

In April 2018, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the federal government was implementing a zero-tolerance policy at the border and would separate parents from their children. Over the next month, a few thousand children were separated from their parents and sent to centers across the nation. Many parents had no idea where their children were located. In the midst of this trauma and chaos, parents were rushed through the asylum process without legal representation. They were expected to pass the credible fear test, which is the first test in the asylum process. This test requires immigrants to demonstrate that they have a credible fear of serious harm or death if they return to their home countries. The immigration attorneys for the separated parents also claimed that many parents were coerced into signing documents which stated that they waived their right to asylum.

What the Agreement States

After the families filed a lawsuit, the case has wended its way through federal court. The government reached an agreement with the separated families that may give 1,000 parents the right to reapply for asylum. Under the agreement, the deportation proceedings against the parents will be halted so they can have a chance to have second interviews with immigration officers. They will also be allowed to have attorneys represent them during their interviews and will be given time to prepare. Parents who are denied asylum will be allowed to stay in the U.S. until their children’s cases are decided.

Plan to Restart Deportation Cases Impacts Hundreds of Thousands

us embassy, immigration lawyer chicagoSome Illinois immigrants who have had their previous deportation cases administratively suspended might now face having them reopened because of the Trump administration’s stance on immigration. The cases were administratively closed by administrative law judges to help their dockets move more quickly and because Immigrations and Customs Enforcement lawyers used prosecutorial discretion to decide not to move forward with them. The push to reopen the administratively suspended cases could impact hundreds of thousands of immigrants across the U.S.

Effort to Reopen Deportation Proceedings

Under the Obama administration, the government took the approach of prioritizing deportation cases of people who were convicted of certain crimes. The government deemed other cases to be low priority and allowed prosecutors to exercise discretion and request that they were administratively suspended. When a case is administratively suspended, it is taken off the immigration judge’s docket. No further proceedings happen so that the case is functionally closed. Prosecutors are able to request that the cases are placed back on the courts’ dockets. In the last two years of Obama’s administration, prosecutors made 3,551 requests in 2015 and 4,847 in 2016. During Trump’s first year in office, prosecutors made 8,400 requests. So far in 2018, almost 8.000 cases have been reopened.

Currently, there are 355,000 immigration cases that have been administratively closed. Internal documents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement revealed plans to reopen almost all of them, potentially impacting hundreds of thousands of people. Many people who may have continued living in the U.S. for years could now face a future that is uncertain.

The prosecutors have been given orders to prioritize the administratively closed cases in a certain order. Cases with the highest priority are those in which the immigrants are jailed and those that involve people with criminal records. ICE will then work on cases in which motions to recalendar have been denied. Finally, they will work on the remaining cases.

What Can People Do?

People who have deportation cases that have been administratively closed might want to look for alternative ways that they can legally remain in the U.S. Some immigrants may be eligible for different types of visas or refugee status. People may want to explore their options to learn whether they might be able to benefit from one of the legal ways to remain in the U.S. so that they do not have to live in fear.

ICE Conspiracy: Here’s What You Need to Know

gavel with America flag, immigration lawyerThe American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit against ICE and the USCIS on behalf of 13 undocumented immigrants claiming the two agencies conspired to call people in for interviews at the USCIS so that ICE could arrest them for deportation. The undocumented immigrants had final orders of removal and were participating in a process through which they could eventually receive green cards. Instead of allowing them to comply with the program, the USCIS instead allegedly scheduled their appointments around the schedules of ICE agents so that they could be arrested while they were at the office.

The Alleged Conspiracy

According to court documents, undocumented immigrants who had final removal orders but who were taking advantage of the provisional waiver regulations from 2016 were called into USCIS offices for interviews. USCIS was reportedly notifying ICE of when the appointments were scheduled so that agents could arrest the immigrants. The provisional waiver regulations provide that people who have final removal orders but whose deportations would cause hardship for their families can have their deportations waived while they go through a process to obtain green cards. Without the waiver provisions, people would have to remain outside of the U.S. for 10 years before they would be able to legally enter the country again.

In one case, a woman who was brought to the U.S. when she was three years old received her removal order at age 15 when her father lost his status as a refugee. She remained in the U.S. and later married a U.S. citizen, with whom she had two children. She was told by the USCIS that she needed to come into the office so that they could verify the validity of her marriage. When she arrived with her marriage certificate and the birth certificates of her children, ICE agents showed up, arrested her and deported her to Guatemala.

The government has filed a motion to dismiss the ACLU’s lawsuit and has denied that a conspiracy exists. However, the ACLU has emails that demonstrate coordination between ICE and the USCIS for the arrest of undocumented immigrants in the USCIS offices. The plaintiffs are seeking an injunction prohibiting further coordination between the agencies.