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Opinion

What are you waiting for?

IMMIGRATION CORNER - Michael J. Gurfinkel - The Philippine Star

Recently, a person consulted with me about their immigration problem. My first reaction was, “Why did they wait so long to do anything about it?”

In their situation, the family went for their visa interview in 2018. However, the consul refused visas for their older children, because they had aged out and were not eligible under the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA).

But notice that their problem, refusal or denial happened in 2018, and yet they waited four years before consulting with an attorney to find out if there was anything that could be done. It would have been much better to consult with an attorney right away, versus waiting for years. This is because there could be deadlines or due dates to respond, appeal, file, refile, etc. If a person does nothing for years, they may miss important deadlines and be out of luck. Or, they waste years pursuing other options.

For example, a person may have a “Plan A” for their immigration situation. But if that is not possible, they have to consider an alternative “Plan B.” But the longer they wait to deal with the problem, the longer it will take to solve or cure it. In this particular situation, it turned out the children truly were not qualified under the CSPA. Therefore, the visas had been properly refused. I then suggested that the parents now petition their adult single children in category F-2B. The parents asked “How long will that take?” and I advised that right now it might be about 10 or 12 years for the petition to be current. “That’s so long!” they both exclaimed. I reminded them that had they acted right away in 2018 by consulting with an attorney, the petitions could have been filed years ago. But now, they lost (or wasted) about four years by doing nothing all these years, rather than immediately taking action and/or consulting with an attorney.

The same is true with other immigration situations. Sometimes a person’s case is denied for a variety of reasons, such as US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) thinks a real/love marriage is fixed because the couple was nervous and their answers didn’t match. A person may have been wrongfully accused of fraud and filed a fraud waiver, which was denied. In all of these cases, there may be hope or something that could be done, such as refiling, appealing, seeking reconsideration or seeking to have the case reopened. But they did nothing about their case for years, and may finally consult with an attorney only when it may be too late.

I want to be clear that I’m not guaranteeing that every denied case will be approved by consulting with an attorney. But at least you would know right away where you stand and whether there are alternatives or other options available.

And if there is something that can be done in your case (or there is possible hope), wouldn’t it be far better to deal with it right away, while you may still be within the deadlines and before any changes in immigration laws, policies or regulations.

For example, the Biden administration is far more lenient and compassionate than the Trump administration when it comes to exercising prosecutorial discretion, administrative closure, reopening cases, etc. So, the best time to deal with an immigration problem would be during Biden’s administration, versus waiting until the next presidential election, when perhaps Trump or another hard-liner is elected?

My point is that if you have an immigration problem, situation or denial, you should not sit on your case for years before finally consulting with an attorney. Just like if you have some ailment: it’s best to see the doctor right away, versus waiting for the situation to become terminal.

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WEBSITE: www.gurfinkel.com

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