Articles Posted in Notice of Intent to Deny

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At the Law Offices of Jacob J. Sapochnick we work closely with clients to address their specialized immigration needs, making their success our number one priority. Many of our clients have experienced immigration issues that could have easily been eliminated with the help of an experienced immigration attorney. Such was the case when our client, we will call him Ernesto, visited our San Diego office to discuss his naturalization case that had gone from bad to worse.

Ernesto had gained permanent residence through marriage to his U.S. Citizen spouse and was ready to apply for naturalization, having remained married to his spouse for at least 3 years before filing his application. Ernesto’s first problem was that he had relied on the assistance of a foreign attorney to prepare and file his application—an attorney who was not licensed to practice law in the United States and was not well versed in immigration law. The attorney had filed his naturalization application without carefully assessing his situation and pin pointing any potential issues he might experience. As a result of his foreign attorney’s incompetence, Ernesto’s application for naturalization was denied and his appeal—also filed by the foreign attorney– was also denied, leaving Ernesto in a very difficult position.

In the Notice of Intent to Deny Ernesto had received USCIS explained the reasons why he had been denied. The main issue was that USCIS was not convinced that he entered his marriage “in good” faith. Furthermore, USCIS argued that Ernesto had failed to present documented evidence proving that he had lived in marital union with his spouse for the 3 years preceding his examination. Due to the fact that USCIS had doubts about the legitimacy of the marital union, they conducted a home inspection at a time that Ernesto was not at his home. During the inspection, the field officers searched the bedroom he shared with his wife and discovered that his clothing was not present. Upon further examination, we found that the officers that conducted the home inspection failed to check the other bedrooms in the home and did not see that his clothing was located in an adjacent bedroom, and not in the room that he shared with his spouse. Ernesto had perfectly legitimate reasons for why he had not been at the home at the time of the inspection, and why his clothing was located in a different room of the house. Ernesto was a businessman and was typically out of town on business trips. On the particular day that the home inspection was conducted, he was out of town on a day business trip. Ernesto had also been traveling to the East Coast frequently for 4-5 months to pursue potential business investments and proposals, leaving his wife behind. Ernesto had been toying with the idea of starting a business on the East Coast, but was not certain if the plans would come to fruition, for that reason his wife had stayed behind across the country while he weighed his options. As a businessman, Ernesto maintained a non-traditional schedule that required him to work long hours, in addition to being apart from his wife. Due to the differences between his schedule and his wife’s schedule he decided to move his clothing to another bedroom so that he would not disturb his wife while he was preparing for his jam packed business schedule. In the end Ernesto’s business plans in the East Coast fell through and he returned to the state of California where he lived with his wife.

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27512994306_54f949109a_zDuring November 2015, a couple came to our office seeking legal assistance, after having filed the adjustment of status application on their own, and attending their initial green card interview without legal representation. The couple visited our office seeking legal representation for their second interview before USCIS, also known as the ‘STOKES’ interview. At the conclusion of their initial interview, the couple were given a request for evidence by the immigration officer.  The Request for Evidence asked the couple to prove that the Beneficiary entered the marriage in good faith, and not for the purposes of evading the immigration laws of the United States. The couple responded to the Request for Evidence, providing documents in support of their bona fide marriage, to establish that they did indeed enter the marriage in good faith. In their response, the couple provided 21 items of evidence including photographs together, lease agreements as proof of cohabitation, and other bona fides such as joint utility bills and affidavits from the Petitioner’s parents, attesting to the couple’s bona fide marriage.

Despite producing such evidence, the immigration officer found the documents provided as evidence of cohabitation and marital union unconvincing. Additionally, the immigration officer found that the testimony given during the initial interview was unconvincing. Due to this, the immigration officer scheduled the couple for a second interview to discuss their relationship in more detail. The couple came to our office seeking guidance and representation at this second interview. The second interview is commonly referred to as the ‘STOKES’ interview. At the time of the second interview or ‘STOKES’ interview, the couple is questioned separately by an immigration officer regarding the details surrounding their marriage and relationship. A ‘STOKES’ interview is typically scheduled when an immigration officer suspects that the marriage is a ‘sham marriage’ entered for the purpose of obtaining an immigration benefit. During the ‘STOKES’ interview the immigration officer probes the couple on the intimate details of their relationship. The ‘STOKES’ interview is very taxing on both the Petitioner and Beneficiary. Some ‘STOKES’ interviews have lasted anywhere form 8-10 hours depending on the complexity of the case. Due to this, it is strongly recommended for an attorney to be present with the couple during a ‘STOKES’ interview.

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Did you know that if you fail to provide USCIS written notice of a change of address, within 10 days of moving to your new address, you may be convicted of a misdemeanor crime?  If you currently have a case pending with USCIS, and you fail to provide written notice of a change of address to USCIS, within 10 days of moving, you could face a fine of up to $200, imprisonment up to 30 days, or both if convicted. If you are an alien (non U.S. Citizen) you could also face removal from the United States for non-compliance (INA Section 266(b)).

It is extremely important for applicants to notify USCIS immediately upon moving to a new address. Filing a change of address with USCIS is easy and it’s free. Applicants may change their address online by visiting the USCIS website and completing Form AR-11 online. In order to file a change of address online, you must know the Receipt Number (appearing on the Notice of Action) associated with your application, if your application is currently pending with USCIS. A Receipt Number is also known as the case number, identifying the petition submitted. The Receipt Number typically begins with three letters and is followed by ten digits.

The first three letters of the Receipt Number indicate the USCIS service center which is processing the petition, as follows:
– EAC – Vermont Service Center;
– WAC – California Service Center;
– LIN – Nebraska Service Center; and
– SRC – Texas Service Center

If you have filed more than one petition with USCIS (as in cases of adjustment of status for spouses of U.S. Citizens) you must provide the receipt number of each petition you have filed, when submitting the change of address online. If you do not have your receipt notice or have lost it, you should contact USCIS National Customer Service Center by telephone for assistance:

Our number is: 1 (800) 375-5283
Our TTY number is: 1 (800) 767-1833

If you are outside the United States and have filed an application or petition with a USCIS Service Center, you can call 212-620-3418 to check the status of your case.

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charlesFor this month’s staff spotlight, we invite you to learn more about Associate Attorney Charles S. Ward, Esq.

Attorney Ward has been a long time attorney at the Law Offices of Jacob J. Sapochnick. Charles received his Doctorate in Jurisprudence from Southern Methodist University graduating Cum Laude. Prior to attending law school, Mr. Ward worked for Delta Air Lines in the Reservations/Sales Department, where he focused on customer service issues and problems relating to traveling arrangements. He has been a California licensed attorney since 1997 and is also licensed to practice before the Federal Court system. His area of expertise includes Immigration and Family Law.

His Favorite Quote “Time and Tide Wait for No One” 

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Bill was a world renowned and very accomplished sculptor and 3d artist in his country. In 2009, Bill decided to make his first visit to the United States. It was here, in the land of opportunity, that he was able to develop his craft further and had the unique opportunity to study animation, the marketing of sculptural art, and technologies in film production. Having already been working for a famous television station in his country, it was only fitting for him to expand his studies in these fields. As a professional artist with extraordinary skills, our client was eligible to file an O-1 visa and could very well obtain his permanent residency through this avenue. After seeking legal advice, Bill decided to go forward with the process of applying for an I-129 Petition for an alien with extraordinary abilities in the arts. While his application was pending, Bill decided to visit his aunt and cousins in Los Angeles. It was through his cousin that Bill would meet his future wife, Elizabeth. After various phone calls and emails, the two decided to meet, and it was indeed love at first sight for the pair. The couple found that they shared similar interests, had a similar background, traditions, and customs.

During the following months, the couple went on frequent outings together as well as with their family members. All seemed perfect. Bill was ready to pop the question and did so in a magical way in Laguna Beach, California. Elizabeth’s parents were not only supportive of Bill’s professional work; they welcomed him into their family as a son, and allowed him to live with Elizabeth in their home during their marriage. A few months after marrying, Elizabeth and Bill decided to file for Bill’s Adjustment of Status. Elizabeth was very enthusiastic about petitioning for Bill because she felt the process would be much quicker than that of the I-129 petition that was pending. Bill completely put his trust in Elizabeth and allowed her to take the reins on his adjustment of status application.

During their marriage, Bill began to see that his wife was not the person he believed her to be. She refused to work and would spend her days chatting with friends and playing computer games until the morning hours. He also began to realize that she had no regard for his financial situation and would spend the money he earned from his family and from freelancing, on luxurious items that were unnecessary expenses. A few months later, Bill heard that his father had been diagnosed with cancer and was fighting for his life. About this time, Bill was fortunate enough to have received his permanent resident card, so he was able to travel internationally without preoccupation. Devastated, Bill traveled to his country alone to support his inconsolable mother and help his family financially. Elizabeth had chosen to stay behind with her family. While he was back in his country dealing with the stress surrounding the terminal nature of his father’s condition, Bill began to receive unrealistic and threatening demands from Elizabeth.