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Legal representation via phone conference

US IMMIGRATION NOTES - Atty. Marco F.G. Tomakin (The Freeman) - December 13, 2020 - 12:00am

This week I attended a client’s interview for his greencard application via telephone conference. The interview was held in Michigan while I was in my office in New York. With restrictions imposed by both states and the very high risk of contracting the virus while traveling, it was very difficult on my part to be physically present at the interview. Representing clients through telephonic conference, while used sparingly in the past, has been the norm during these times of global pandemic.

The interview was conducted in the usual manner. I was still able to actively and vigorously represent my client by listening to the questions, request for clarifications and directly addressing the adjudication officer. The client likewise was able to confer with me if there were questions that he did not understand or could not recall the answers to. The interview ended without any hitch and we are looking forward to a favorable decision anytime soon.

What I would like to impart on this experience is that should you be in a similar situation, you should insist to your attorney that he make a written request for a telephonic conference and request for a copy of that letter. You would need that to show to the adjudication officer in case he claims that he never received such request. Also, on the day of the interview, before any question is asked, you should assert your right to have your lawyer attend via phone. A simple request to the officer will suffice. Further, be prepared when you go to the interview. You should have all your documents and forms ready. In my practice, I always have a mock Q&A session with my clients a few days before the interview. That way, they feel assured that even if I’m not by their side, I am still with them on the other end of the line.

It goes without saying that you still have to observe the usual preparations. Be punctual. Be aware of COVID-related guidelines imposed by the local USCIS office.

* * *

It’s a welcome development that the alleged perpetrators of the murder of Atty. Joey Luis Wee have already been arrested. I commend the law enforcement officers for their speed and dedication in solving this crime. I hope that other unsolved crimes against judges and lawyers will also be afforded the same attention and thoroughness similar to this case. As I have suggested in the past, if a lawyer is killed by reason of his work as a client advocate and an officer of the court, such must be considered as an additional aggravating circumstance and should mete out the maximum penalty imposed to the convicted accused.

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