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What harm can come to your immigration case in the time of Covid 19?

By Hadley Bajramovic

Nearly everyday, I am asked if Trump’s latest executive order will harm a client’s immigration case.  I tell them all the same thing, it is a farce, except it is not.  Trump’s media spin machine can re-tale a well-known tale, just to gain the approval of his base which is not able to see the repurpose of what has already happened. 

Here you can see Trump’s recent immigration proclamation.

This proclamation had us immigration attorneys scratching our nerdy heads trying to understand what Trump meant to accomplish.  The proclamation mentions something about those who are outside of the US waiting to get in and that these people are waiting to take US jobs from US citizens, and so they must wait 60 days.  OK, so for immigration attorneys who have been following all of the closures of the different agencies, which are extending closures every two weeks as there are no good ways to social distance in USCIS interviews or immigration courts, we already know that the US Consulates abroad have been closed since March.  US Consulates abroad receive those immigrant visa applications that have been proclaimed suspended by Trump.  That means that those applications were not going to be heard by Consulate officers anyway for at least 60 days, or so it seems, as we have no word of the Consulates opening anytime soon.

What can harm your immigration case is the agency that is going broke because of Trump policy and pinch from the coronavirus-caused economic downturn.  The Trump administration wants to deter immigration and we all know that for certain, he says it every chance he gets.  One clear tactic is to over-scrutinize applications from extraordinary and exceptional skilled researchers and scientists and wear these individuals down with ridiculous requests for evidence asking attorneys to prove that skills like “crystallography” are not “ordinary.”  These tedious and ridiculous requests and denials of meritorious cases are sending the best and the brightest to other countries and others are simply giving up.  Giving up is a similar problem in family-based cases.  Undocumented family members are afraid to finally file the last step of the case that has been in process for 20 years due to visa backlogs, in fear of a denial  that could ultimately lead to immigration court and removal from the US. The anti-immigrant policy leads to the reduction of fees generated by the fee-for-service agency which is the USCIS.  Now, with the COVID 19 pandemic, the economic pinch is exacerbated by the submission of fewer applications, meaning less fees, as people struggle at home, and use their money on food for their children rather than immigration cases which are uncertain due to anti-immigrant policy.  I personally have seen this week, the USCIS reject filings, that would have otherwise been accepted, with a statement that new filings must be made with fees.  I was pondering the reason for this unexpected rejection when I read an article by the New York Times titled “Immigration Agency That Issues Visas, Green Cards Struggles to Stay Afloat”

Ahhh now I get it, but my clients are frustrated! They want to know how their case was harmed, after I had advised them this process is correct and has worked for years?

We immigration attorneys do our best to advise our clients of the potential for derailment of a case over the simplest of things such as change of address.  We let them know that these seemingly minor problems are the reason to hire us, alongside our highly skilled professional knowledge to determine complex procedure and substantive issues.  We are here to make sure that the USCIS follows the law, maintains lawful procedures, does not overreach, and does not pinch our clients to help overcome their summer shortfall.

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