The Perils and Pitfalls of Applying for a Green Card

by Jason Dzubow on November 13, 2017

In the past few weeks, we’ve had two former asylum clients return to our office for help after USCIS denied their applications for citizenship. The applications were denied due to mistakes the former clients made on their I-485 forms (the application for a green card). These cases illustrate the danger of incorrectly completing the I-485 form, and this danger is particularly acute for people with asylum.

The new Green Card application process.

Let’s start with a bit of background. After a person receives asylum, she must wait for one year before applying for her lawful permanent resident (“LPR”) status (her green card). The form used to apply for the green card is the I-485. In the good old days (a few months ago), this form used to be six pages. Now it is 18 pages. The old I-485 form contained 32 yes-or-no questions; the new form contains 92 such questions.

Many of these questions are difficult for me to understand, and I am a trained lawyer who speaks reasonably decent English. So you can imagine that people with more limited English, who are not familiar with the complicated terms and concepts contained in some of the questions, might have trouble answering.

In my clients’ cases, two questions in particular caused them trouble (these are from the old I-485). The first question was, “List your present and past membership in or affiliation with every organization, association, fund, foundation, party, club, society, or similar group in the United States or in any other place since your 16th birthday.” Both clients had been involved with political parties, but were no longer members of those parties in the United States. The clients did not carefully read the question, and instead of listing their “past membership,” they instead answered “none” (because they are no longer members).

The second question asked whether the clients had ever been “arrested, cited, charged, indicted, fined, or imprisoned for breaking or violating any law or ordinance, excluding traffic violations.” In fact, my clients had never been arrested for “breaking or violating any law or ordinance.” They were arrested for exercising their supposedly-lawful political rights, and they were correct to answer “no” to this question. Nevertheless, USCIS viewed their answers as deceptive.

My clients’ problems were compounded by the fact that they were never interviewed for their green cards, and so a USCIS officer never went over the questions with them and gave them an opportunity to correct the errors.

The result of all this—confusing questions, carelessness, and no interview—was that my clients obtained their green cards, but also sowed the seeds for future problems. Five years later, these problems appeared when the clients tried to naturalize, and USCIS went back and carefully reviewed their prior applications.

To me, my clients’ errors were clearly honest mistakes. Indeed, in their asylum applications, the clients had already informed USCIS about their party memberships and about their arrests, and so they had nothing to gain—and everything to lose—by failing to mention these issues in the I-485 form. But that is not how USCIS sees things. To them, the errors were “misrepresentations,” which disqualified my clients for citizenship.

To solve the problem, my clients will likely need to apply for waivers (an expensive application to seek forgiveness for making misrepresentations). Given that they are asylees, and that the misrepresentations were relatively minor, I suspect the clients will ultimately qualify for waivers and—eventually—become U.S. citizens. But between now and then, they will face a lot of unnecessary stress and expense. Unfortunately, this is the reality now-a-days for all applicants: If you leave yourself vulnerable, USCIS will bite you.

So what can be done? How can you protect yourself when completing the form I-485?

The key is to read each question carefully and make sure you understand what it means. This is time consuming and boring, but given that USCIS is looking for excuses to deny cases and cause trouble, you have little choice if you want to be safe.

Even using a lawyer is no guarantee. Until recently (when USCIS started looking for reasons to deny cases), I had a tendency to gloss over some of these questions. I am more careful now, but it’s not easy. Many of the questions are ridiculous: Are you a prostitute? Did you gamble illegally? Were you a Nazi in WWII? But intermingled with these questions are others that require closer attention: Did you ever have a J visa? Have you ever received public assistance? Have you ever been denied a visa? It’s easy to skim over these, but the consequences of an erroneous answer can be serious.

Also, some questions are tricky, and can’t easily be answered with a “yes” or a “no.” For example, my clients indicated that they had not been arrested for a crime, and this was correct, but they had been arrested for their (lawful) political activities, and USCIS took their answers as misrepresentations. What to do? When we complete I-485 forms and we encounter questions like this, we normally check “no” (or “yes” if that seems more appropriate) and circle the question. Next to the question, we write, “Please see cover letter,” and on the cover letter, we provide an explanation (“I was never arrested for a crime, but I was arrested by my home government for political reasons”). At least this avoids the problem of USCIS labeling your answer a misrepresentation.

In the end, the only real solution here is to read each question carefully, make sure you understand the question, and answer it appropriately. If the question is not amenable to a yes-or-no answer, or if you think an explanation is required, circle the question and provide an explanation. If you don’t understand something or are not sure, ask for help. It’s best to get the form correct now, even if that involves extra time or money, than to make mistakes that will cost you later on.

{ 102 comments… read them below or add one }

A-dreamer November 17, 2017 at 10:10 am

Hi Jason. Your consistency is amazing and inspires me always. Kindly allow me to share this resource and also encourage Asylees to go to my new WEBSITE tujipange.com for more resources and news.
https://www.tujipange.com/2017/11/17/asylee-scholarships-grants/. Thanks and God Bless. Fellow Asylee.

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Tekin November 17, 2017 at 8:12 am

Jason,

I have a master hearing coming in December, do I need to give fingerprint again? my initial fingerprint was back in March 2015.

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Jason Dzubow November 17, 2017 at 4:50 pm

Probably not, at least not for the MCH, but you or your lawyer can double check with DHS counsel at the MCH to see if that might be needed for the individual hearing. Take care, Jason

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kd November 16, 2017 at 7:04 pm

Hello Jason ! I really need your opinion about my case !
I enlisted in ARMY ( Active Duty ) but I didn’t get a chance to be shipped to a basic training.It takes a long process for international people to be shipped to the basic training. Later I get hurt my arm and cancelled my enlisted contract before going to the basic training . Since I am going to fill I-485 for green card application based on asylum, Do I answer “yes or no ”
for the question asking that I have been a member of any military service on part 8 ( 1) ?

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Jason Dzubow November 17, 2017 at 7:20 am

This is a question that seems to require explanation – you can answer whatever you think is more appropriate, circle the question, and provide an explanation that you send along with your I-485. Of course, if you served in the military in another country, you need to mention that too. Take care, Jason

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L.F November 16, 2017 at 6:45 pm

Hello to everyone!
First of all, Sara & everyone here hope gets good news from USCIS..
Second, Sara did they told you for results: to go and get it or they gonna mail that to you ? Two different things…
Third, i got invitation to appear for the interview end of this month in NYAO… applied back in May 2015
In next to week idk how to be happy or worried?!

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Jason Dzubow November 16, 2017 at 6:49 pm

Be happy – and make sure all your documents are filed and that you are ready. I did a blog post on September 8, 2016 that might help. Good luck, Jason

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Sara November 16, 2017 at 8:24 pm

I responded to your comment below, L.F.
Why did you say pick-ups and mail-outs are two different things? Besides the trip to Bethpage.

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Sara November 17, 2017 at 7:48 am

I realized last night that I had overstated one of my dates by two months while answering a question. We have the officer’s code from when he asked us to email him our passport scans because he wanted to make sure he photocopied everything, so I asked my lawyer if we should correct that answer, and she said there’s no need since the discrepancy is small. I trust her and have always gone with whatever advice she’s given me in the past, so I am doing the same this time and hoping for the best. I started watching an old documentary on asylum when I got my invitation letter that I didn’t finish, and one particularly knowledgeable officer was saying it’s usually applicants who are telling the truth that may have a discrepancy here and there — that the airtight stories are usually the made up ones. Hope my officer sees it that way! 🙂

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Sim November 17, 2017 at 12:25 pm

Hi Sara,
Which state did u file you case and how long the interview???

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Sara November 17, 2017 at 12:47 pm

Hey Sim,
NY. It lasted around 2.5 hours but that’s just a guesstimate. We didn’t keep track of the time.

Celia November 17, 2017 at 10:18 am

You should be happy! I think they’re trying to reduce the workload before the holidays.
Make sure you’re prepared and good luck!!!
I think ours is coming up soon, filed early June, 2015.
Fingers crossed.

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Political Asylumist November 17, 2017 at 1:23 pm

Congratulations Sara. I am also waiting for the decision. My interview was at the beginning of November and it has been more than 2 weeks of silence.

My interview was on a circuit ride location and the AO asked me to send some more documents in one week after the interview (I sent them in 1 day). These were very minor documents about what I said in the interview and I believe he just wanted to validate the things I said.

Also, I asked when I can get the decision and he replied me in a couple of weeks to months. I hope it won’t take that long but we will see.

By the way, my interview lasted for an hour and the first 20min was about checking the information in the form. Right after that he asked me about why you fear and what will happen if you go back to your country.

Please update us on the decision.

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Sara November 17, 2017 at 1:51 pm

Thank you! And I wish you all the best with your decision 🙂
For some reason, they seem to either take the 2 weeks, or 3-5 months. Folks start entering their receipt numbers in the “my case status” field on the USCIS website after their interviews, to see if they get a message that their EAD fees have been waived which signals an approval. Maybe we can pass the time doing that. Can’t hurt! It seems to only give that message when you’re about to be mailed the decision, though, so that may take a while.
Either way, keep us posted on your decision and I will do the same.

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Political Asylumist November 17, 2017 at 2:43 pm

Yes, I am checking everyday to see the good news. I hope it will not take that long. I know some people say even 3 months is short but the wait kills me and I am seriously tired of all the problems I was trying to deal with. I heard that 2/3 of the cases are adjudicated in a month but I really don’t know.

During this time, I read all the immigration forums, all the immigration laws and all the entries and comments in Asylumist 🙂

Sara November 17, 2017 at 7:44 pm

The wait is tricky. Hope you hear your good news soon!

Jason Dzubow November 17, 2017 at 5:02 pm

Good luck – it does sometimes take longer than they estimate, but be patient and hopefully you will get good news soon. Take care, Jason

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Sim November 16, 2017 at 3:29 pm

Jason ,

Just wanted One suggestion my case is filled in Miami. But if I move to Arlington Asylum Office office do you think I have better chance of winning? What you suggest San Francisco or
Arlington Asylum Office.which one is better?

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Jason Dzubow November 16, 2017 at 6:44 pm

I am kind-of indifferent to picking offices based on likelihood to win (though there are those who disagree with me on this point). I did a post about this on February 25, 2016 – it is a bit dated, but maybe it will help. Take care, Jason

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Sim November 17, 2017 at 12:35 pm

Jason,
I read what u asked me to but I m still not sure which Place is better sf or Arlington va? Any suggestions

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Jason Dzubow November 17, 2017 at 4:56 pm

I really have no suggestion – I do not think it much matters, but if it is all the same to you, maybe the approval rate in SF is a bit higher than Virginia. Take care, Jason

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Meli November 16, 2017 at 9:56 am

Hi Jason, I am going to apply for my GC on March 2018, the thing is I requested a refugee travel document. I am going to a third country to see my family, I am arranging my trip from April 2018 to June 2018, is it better if I applied for the GC and leave or should I do it when I comeback? I don’t know the timeline for the GC, and if I have to give the biometrics, in those traveling time, it will mess up a lot of things for me? What’s your suggestion?
Thank you!

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Jason Dzubow November 16, 2017 at 6:33 pm

Usually, the biometrics appointment is about 1 or 2 months after you file the I-485, so if you plan to file in March and leave in April, that may be a problem. If so, it is better to wait until you return, or to file in March and delay your trip until after the biometrics. Take care, Jason

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Alee November 16, 2017 at 3:59 am

Hi Jason,
My wife applied in 09/14, interviewed 02/16 we are still waiting for decision. Every 6 months we made an inquiry. First 2 times it was a standard reply that decision has not been made but this time Chicago office replied as follows:

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) records confirm that your client’s cases stated below are still pending at this time. USCIS is committed to adjudicating immigration benefits in a timely and efficient manner while also ensuring public safety, national security and compliance with all relevant directives. While the processing steps for most applications or petitions are completed quickly, a small percentage of cases involve unresolved issues that may result in adjudication delays. For example, if our review reveals an issue that may impact an individual’s eligibility for the requested immigration benefit, further inquiry is needed. The inquiry may include an additional interview and/or contact with another agency for updates or more comprehensive information. We are unable to determine at this time when the review process for the application will be completed. USCIS is unable to render a decision on your client’s case until certain issues are resolved. We are striving to resolve these issues as soon as possible. We understand that your client’s may be frustrated by the progress of their case. However, USCIS must balance individual inconvenience against broader issues of public safety and national security.

My question is could this be standard new replying format or do you think its our case specific?

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Jason Dzubow November 16, 2017 at 7:25 am

This seems familiar, but I am not sure – I would guess that it is the standard reply for cases that have been tagged for extra review. Sometimes, it is possible to get a bit more specific info from a USCIS Ombudsman inquiry, so that may be worth a try. The new Ombudsman is a former advocate for an anti-immigration group, and so I have less confidence that they will be helpful, but it is free and hope springs eternal, so maybe it is worth a shot. Also, that would be a good step to do before filing a mandamus lawsuit, if the client is thinking about doing that. Take care, Jason

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Sara Hope November 16, 2017 at 6:41 pm

Hi , would you mind sharing the nature of your wife’s case , is it political? And from which country are u , hope things will eventually workout well for your wife

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Basil November 15, 2017 at 8:32 pm

Dear Jason I have a pending asylum application,the situation in Lebanon is deteriorating Can I ask for a stat asylum interview ?

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Jason Dzubow November 16, 2017 at 7:20 am

That is not a strong basis to expedite an interview, but maybe if you have family (spouse, minor children) in Lebanon, and you can say that they are in danger, that is a basis to expedite. I wrote about expediting cases on March 30, 2017 – maybe that would help. Take care, Jason

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Sara November 15, 2017 at 5:04 pm

Dear Jason, Team NY & all,
I just had my interview today at the NY AO. My lawyer and I are very happy with how it went. The officer was professional, courteous and kind. I got asked a lot of questions that included some very smart ones that I appreciated. Excellent job by the officer. They tried to get my 3-year-old to take the oath and she sort of danced the Macarena instead so we scrapped that plan.
All in all, a good, truly stressful day. I had to update my asylum fam even though I’m nursing a headache.
Timeline:
Receipt Date: 04/27/15
Interview Date: 11/15/17

Good luck to us all!
Best,
Sara

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Anonymous November 15, 2017 at 5:55 pm

Good results and best wishes for you sara.

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Sara November 15, 2017 at 6:44 pm

Thank you so much for the kind wishes 😊 All the best to you too!

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Joe November 15, 2017 at 9:24 pm

Congratulations sara you have finally crossed that path, I wish you a successful out come.

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Sara November 15, 2017 at 11:53 pm

Many thanks, Joe! I wish you all the best with your case, as well 😊

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Hanif November 16, 2017 at 2:33 am

Thanks Sara,
For your update.can you kindly inform me about your case.i mean is it a political asylum or anything else.

Thanks

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Sara November 16, 2017 at 10:12 am

Hi Hanif,
I can tell you that it falls into two of the protected groups.

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Jason Dzubow November 16, 2017 at 7:08 am

That is good news (however, I prefer the Mashed Potato to the Macarena, but it may be a generational thing). I think most of the officers are like this. Hopefully, you will get a good decision soon – the wait between the interview and the decision can be difficult, but it is hopefully the final step. Good luck, Jason

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Sara November 16, 2017 at 10:16 am

Thank you, Jason 😊
She heard “raise your right hand” and got to working. With both hands. Proud parent moment right there.

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mohamed rabih November 16, 2017 at 9:49 am

Congratulations sara

Inshallh you will won your case

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Sara November 16, 2017 at 10:16 am

Thank you! 😊

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Celia November 16, 2017 at 12:56 pm

Congratulations, I’m happy the interview went well and I wish you an approval letter to arrive soon!

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Sara November 16, 2017 at 2:17 pm

Thank you so much, Celia! Wishing you the best on the day of your interview 😊
Everyone we encountered at the NY asylum office was courteous. Every officer I saw calling people while I was waiting for my turn, seemed to be kind and professional. The questions I was asked were very smart and clearly worded. I was asked on every aspect of my case, from every possible angle, and that was definitely something I wanted and was glad that I got.
You will do great, I’m sure! Let us know when you get your invitation so that we can send some positivity your way 😊
Best,
Sara

Sara November 16, 2017 at 2:19 pm

Calling people in*
One more thing, my interview lasted around 2.5 hours. We didn’t look at our watches the whole time we were there, so this is an estimate.

bass November 16, 2017 at 5:14 pm

congrats Sara, you gave us hope that its really happening and one day i’m going to have an interview and not to give up. I filled for my asylum mid of Nov 2015 I hope that they are really interviewing people from April to September so mine is going to be soon. I wish you all the best with the decision without any delay.
Good Luck

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Sara November 16, 2017 at 8:00 pm

Many thanks, Bass! Never give up.
I hope you get your invitation letter soon 🙂

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L.F November 16, 2017 at 7:13 pm

Hope you gonna get a good news
I got the invitation for interview too
Can you pkease share some experience during the interview, presentation, questions, idk anything can help
I really feel now kinda nervous till finish this
What about result do you have to go or they gonna mail it ?!
Appreciate Sara

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Sara November 16, 2017 at 8:16 pm

Awesome news, L.F! All the best.
They told me to pick it up. The officer said that if there are any delays because of the holidays, they will call and let me know that they will mail it instead.
I wish I had more info to share. It was a very fair and thorough interview. I got asked about all the main points that my case is based upon — like, every single one. The whole thing was a lot less intimidating than I had anticipated. All in all, I left with a good feeling which, I know, may not count for much at all come decision time. There’s no telling how well it REALLY went at this point. My lawyer said she’s 100 percent sure I got it, and that I was a rock star in there lol I really did do my best. I guess we’ll find out soon if it was good enough.
So good luck with your studying! I had only read my statement one and a half times before my interview. It’s all etched into my brain. Probably for life.
Best,
Sara

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Jamie November 17, 2017 at 12:37 pm

Hi L.F,

I do understand your trepidation and how nerve-racking the whole experience can be. I was in the same position as you.

I did my interview at the Newark, NJ office. While I was there I observed that most of the officers were generally courteous and professional- even the securities/police were courteous!

I believe the asylum officers were trained to be professional and courteous as they subscribe, I believe, to the school of thought that by appearing warm, courteous and professional, they (the officers) will be able to elicit more information from the interviewee. There are, however, officers that are exception to this subscription or training (I suspect that they are in the minority), as I have heard of officers being a bit aggressive and argumentative.

It is imperative that you know that each officer has his/her own interview style, and you can’t use the style of interviewer to predict the outcome of your case. Using my own experience, I can say that my officer wasn’t the most warm/courteous/friendly. Though I was bawling my eyes out, from having to recount my traumatic stories, she never appeared sympathetic. She appeared, for the most part, robotic: She didn’t show any emotions whatsoever! She was extremely thorough: She asked every question on the application, and she asked questions (some tricky ones) that weren’t even on the application or in the affidavit/declaration. I did win (thank God) asylum nonetheless.

My friend said that his officer was extremely argumentative and unfriendly; but he won his case nonetheless.

On the contrary, I have heard that asylum applications have been referred to immigration court, even though the interviewing officer was very friendly and seemingly sympathetic. Sometimes the officer may want to grant you asylum, but there was something in your case that prevented the officer from granting you asylum. This does not negate the fact that officer might have been a genuinely nice person.

To me, winning an asylum case at the asylum office- especially if you don’t have a straightforward and easy case- involves a lot of preparation. You must ensure that you know your case, tell the truth candidly, present as much evidence as possible, and prepare to be emotional.

The questions that the officer asks you will be centered around your case. If anyone submitted affidavits for you, make sure you know the affidavits. If you can’t recall specific dates or incidents, tell the officer that you can’t recall and tell the officer why you can’t recall at that time. If you are giving the officer new information that wasn’t in your declaration or application, tell the officer that you are aware that the information you are giving him/her is not in your declaration or application.

Though it is very difficult, do not be afraid to talk about what you experience(d) and why you are afraid. Talk about why are afraid to go back and what would happen to you if you are sent back! Bear in mind that the officer’s job is to find out if you are eligible for asylum. The only way the officer can make of fair assessment of your case if you talk frankly and clearly about the details of your case.

The officer knows that you aren’t going to be able to remember every event in details, such as specific dates and what color shirt you were wearing that day. Personally, I think that if you can’t remember specific events or details, tell that officer that you remember the incident, but you just can’t remember in that much details. I think it is better to do this than attempt to provide answers that are inconsistent with what you put in your declaration or application- especially if are constantly inconsistent. For, believe it or not, being inconsistent in your story is grounds for getting your application denied.

I wasn’t able to remember a couple dates and I let the officer know that I was having problems remembering the specific date an event occurred, as I detest remembering anything that has to do with that specific event. in reality, I genuinely hate that specific event. Just remembering this event makes me lose my appetite for food.

As you can imagine, no can predict what questions you will be asked; however, I would advise that you prepare for all the questions on the I-589, know your declaration, try to be abreast of your country conditions (the officer did ask me about my country conditions), prepare for questions outside of application and declaration, describe- even graphically- and explain yourself away, provide answers to questions that you were asked, and look the officer in the eyes.

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Sara November 17, 2017 at 12:46 pm

Jamie, you’re awesome! Where were you when I was preparing for my interview? 🙂 So glad you won your case!
You’re absolutely right about everything that you said. I was unable to read my statement any more times than I did to prepare because a lot of it makes my stomach turn, and I really did remember every single event and point on there. I got asked about that one specific date where I initially said I didn’t remember, then made the mistake of venturing one which was off by 2 months. Everything else was consistent so I hope that this won’t hurt my outcome. I know I did my very best as my child’s safety depends on it. Will just stay positive and let you all know when I receive my decision.

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Jamie November 17, 2017 at 3:22 pm

Sara,
Thank you for your kind words! I feel like you did well/your best. I feel like you will get good news. I don’t think being off by a month or 2 should necessarily kill your entire interview performance. If the rest of your oral interview was consistent with your I-589, the affidavits, declaration, and country conditions, then I feel you should relax and wait to see the outcome. I really hope you will be granted asylum as I can tell that you are a beautiful soul, and your daughter is also dependent on it.

Sara November 17, 2017 at 4:00 pm

You’re too kind 😊 Thank you so much!
And my lawyer had the exact same opinion as yours regarding that date mistake. Will try to stop thinking about it, and hope for the best.

Jason Dzubow November 17, 2017 at 5:01 pm

“I know I did my very best as my child’s safety depends on it.” Well said. For many people, this is the beginning and end of the reason for seeking asylum. Take care, Jason

Sara November 17, 2017 at 7:43 pm

Getting on that plane with her just 3 months’ old in 2014, felt like that scene from Argo where they board the plane to the U.S. and safety. 😊

Jason Dzubow November 17, 2017 at 4:59 pm

All good advice – Thank you for the comment. Take care, Jason

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Ray November 15, 2017 at 4:14 pm

hi Jason,
My case is :
my brother is an asylee who granted asylum a year ago, he entered to USA by a visitor visa (with 6 months residence period) and after 32 days he applied for asylum.
what about the following questions: –
1. Have you EVER violated the terms and conditions of your NIV?
2. Have you EVER lied about, concealed or misrepresented any info on an application or petition to obtain a visa, other documentation required for entry to USA, admission to USA, or any other kind of immigration benefits?

Does he considered lied, misrepresented or violated his NIV terms and conditions??

Regards
Ray

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Jason Dzubow November 15, 2017 at 6:53 pm

If he lied to get a visa or if he planned to seek asylum when he arrived here, maybe he did lie to get the visa. Since he filed for asylum soon after he arrived here, USCIS might think he planned to violate his status at the time he came here. I did a post about that on September 19, 2017 that might help. I do think he should talk to a lawyer about the specifics of his case if he is concerned about answering these questions. Take care, Jason

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Ray November 15, 2017 at 7:15 pm

Actually he didn’t lie, because at the time of his visa interview he had no intention to apply for asylum, but 3 months after his visa issued, he received a threat and his house attacked, so he decided to use his visa to come to the USA and apply for asylum.
Definitely he will answer NO to both questions (because he didnt lie or did misrepresentation)
But my question is what the Law says about such situation specially after the new orders ??
To be honest, I asked a lawyer and he said that ” if we consider that he lied” such a lie to save your life, specially he already proved that (granted Asylum), not considered a lie…

Thanks for your help Jason

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Jason Dzubow November 16, 2017 at 7:18 am

In this case, he should be alright, but he should also be prepared to talk about when and why he decided to seek asylum, in the event that USCIS thinks he lied. It sounds to me like he is safe to answer “no” under these circumstances, but if USCIS questions this answer, he needs to be ready to respond (and this could happen at the green card stage or at the citizenship stage – so he should make sure to keep all his evidence until he is a US citizen). In terms of the lawyer, if a person flees their country and lies to get a visa or uses a fake passport, that can be forgiven for purposes of asylum when he is fleeing for his life (there is a case about it called Matter of Pula). On the I-485 (green card form), such a person would have to indicate that he lied to get into the US, and USCIS might require that he submit a waiver, though I have seen cases where USCIS did not require the waiver since the person admitted what he did during the asylum interview. Take care, Jason

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TAH November 15, 2017 at 2:08 pm

Dear Sir,
I have question, one of my friend he is already waiting for his Priority Date to be current. His immigration under F3 category is under process since 2009.
Can he apply for study visa, for USA while his F3 category immigration is in process?

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Jason Dzubow November 15, 2017 at 6:46 pm

I do not know a lot about that. He can apply, but whether they will deny it because of the pending immigration petition, I do not know. Take care, Jason

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Alex November 14, 2017 at 11:27 pm

Hi Jason,

Do you think there is any way for asylees to expedite their green card applications? If so, what reasons for an expedite request do you think would have success? It seems like the waiting time is almost one year now, which is way too long.

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Jason Dzubow November 15, 2017 at 6:45 pm

You can ask – maybe you need the GC for a job. If you have evidence of that, you can ask to expedite, though I would not be very optimistic about your chances of expediting. Anyway, you can try. Take care, Jason

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Memo November 14, 2017 at 9:53 pm

Sorry but but I already asked different lawyers they have many opinions and I’m confused
I was a full time student
But I married to a US citizen and she filled petition for me
Unfortunately she had an accident and we missed the interview and they denied it.
We still married but due to her medical condition we can’t file!
Beside this I have a strong asylum claim and fear to return back to my country
Can I still have the opportunity to apply for asylum without applying one year rule based on fact that I was a F-1 student and I didn’t overstayed but now have no status( because of AOS) and referred to IJ?

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Jason Dzubow November 15, 2017 at 6:44 pm

Assuming you were a full time student up until the time you filed, you should meet an extension to the one-year rule. If your student status ended while you were adjusting status based on the marriage, you might also meet an exception, but that may be more difficult. I recommend you talk to a lawyer about the specifics, as the one-year issue is very important for any asylum case. Take care, Jason

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Anna November 14, 2017 at 12:37 pm

Jason,

Thank you for the article, you’re doibg ab inmense job helping asylees, we want you to know we highly appreciate it.
I have a question – once the 150 days passed we applied and received our EAD. When the time came to renew it it took us a fee months to apply for renewal (5 to be exact), abd then it took another 90+ days for the new EAD to arrive. My question – if we worked during these 5 months and 90+ days without a renewed EAD – does that mean we worked illegally? Or does our right to work NOT STOP with the card expiration date? I’m assuming this could be an issue when we apply for green card in the future..

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Jason Dzubow November 15, 2017 at 7:39 am

Theoretically, it might be possible to work illegally between EAD cards (though remember that the old card is automatically extended for 6 months once you file for the new card), but given that the new card probably covers the period of illegal work (retroactively), I doubt it will be a problem. Whether you need to mention that on the I-485 form when the time comes, I am not sure, I guess it depends on whether you actually did work illegally during the period, which depends on the dates of your EAD cards and the automatic extensions. It would be worthwhile to talk to a lawyer about it, or to circle the relevant question and provide an explanation – I think the danger would not be the illegal work, but rather the fact that USCIS thinks you lied about it by not mentioning it on the I-485 form. Take care, Jason

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HA November 14, 2017 at 3:04 am

Nice and scary article,
i ran to check my I-485 which i submitted last April, first i noticed that it is the 6 pages one with is expire 12-31-2018,
so i did not find the question about been member in party or etc,
but i found the question number 1 section B in page number 3, which ask if been arrested for breaking or violating any law or ordinance excluding traffic violation, which is i answered with NO although i was arrested in home country before coming to the US and seek asylum,
So i am not sure if i did submitted the wrong I-485?

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Jason Dzubow November 14, 2017 at 6:49 pm

The old form does ask about memberships, but it is a separate question and it leaves space for you to list your memberships. As for the question, if the arrest was not for a crime, you should be alright. However, my clients did have a problem with this question, as discussed above. You may want to send a letter to USCIS (with a copy of your receipt) and reference the question number. Then explain that you did have an arrest for a crime, but you did have a political arrest. But if this is the only issue on the form, it really should not be a problem (if your arrest at home was for a crime, then you really do need to correct your answer on the form). Take care, Jason

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HA November 15, 2017 at 2:16 am

Thanks for the quick reply,
My arrest was for political issues only, no crime or anything,
I did some research and the old form was fine till June 2017, so I should be fine as they got my application on April 2017,
But thanks for the information in this article, it opened my eyes on things which we don’t give enough important to.

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Kyla November 14, 2017 at 12:49 am

Hi Jason, thanks for all you done for us.
I have question, what about credit card civil lawsuit and 1 speedy ticket, should included citied for naturalization forms ? Thanks lot

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Jason Dzubow November 14, 2017 at 6:45 pm

I don’t think the N-400 asks about such issues, but I don’t remember specifically, so make sure you read each question carefully. Take care, Jason

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Sim November 14, 2017 at 12:00 am

Hi Jason ,
I filled my asylum and submitted copy of affidavit which I received from my friend back home..
My qus is if my friend lost the original copy of the affidavit which I submitted with my application.
In further if I go for my interview they going to ask me the original or not? If I don’t show them Original affidavit of my friend it can impact on my application? Or else can I take the same affidavit with the present date and attach a letter stating the reason for New affidavit that the original affidavit was lost in transit.

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Jason Dzubow November 14, 2017 at 6:43 pm

Normally, they do not ask for original affidavits. Other original documents – passport, ID documents, police and hospital reports, threat letters – they do often want to see. Take care, Jason

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Memo November 13, 2017 at 9:51 pm

Thanks, Jason
If you are a student in the US since 2 years and want to apply for asylum, because you can be killed if you return your home country !
Can you go to Mexico through land customs or any other third country then return back to the US to renew one year rule filling then you apply for asylum?
Or it is not possible?

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Jason Dzubow November 14, 2017 at 7:43 am

If you leave the US and return, the one-year filing clock should be re-set. However, if you have been lawfully here as a full-time, F-1 student, then you should meet an exception to the one-year filing requirement and you should not need to leave the US. Talk to a lawyer about the specifics of your case to be sure. Take care, Jason

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Memo November 14, 2017 at 1:46 pm

I was a full time student
But I married to a US citizen and she filled petition for me
Unfortunately she had an accident and we missed the interview and they denied it.
We still married but due to her medical condition we can’t file!
Beside this I have a strong asylum claim and fear to return back to my country
Can I still have the opportunity to apply for asylum without applying one year rule based on fact that I was a F-1 student and I didn’t overstayed but now have no status( because of AOS) and referred to IJ?

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Jason Dzubow November 15, 2017 at 7:41 am

Assuming you were a full time student up until the time you filed, you should meet an extension to the one-year rule. If your student status ended while you were adjusting status based on the marriage, you might also meet an exception, but that may be more difficult. I recommend you talk to a lawyer about the specifics, as the one-year issue is very important for any asylum case. Take care, Jason

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santon November 13, 2017 at 9:00 pm

Hi Jason,
Thank you for your information.
I have question, I am waiting for interview,my asylum is pending for 3 years but I have TPS status also and I am prime applicant for asylum, my wife needs to outside US to see her sick parents so could you please give me some advice if she can visit by RTD which we are planning to apply, and will it effect my pending asylum at interview. Please provide me some informations.Thanks.
Santon

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Jason Dzubow November 14, 2017 at 7:39 am

An RTD is only for people who have been granted asylum – she needs Advance Parole (form I-131, available at http://www.uscis.gov; this is the same form as used for an RTD). She can get AP based on pending asylum or on TPS. However, if she returns to the home country, it could affect your case, but that depends on what your case is about. If the danger is only to you, then maybe there will be little effect (except that the asylum officer will probably ask you about her travel and to explain it – so you should have evidence about that). If you are claiming that the danger is to your whole family and she returns, it could cause your asylum case to be denied. Also, your wife could have trouble when she returns to the US if the border patrol people at the airport think she is an asylee who traveled to her home country (including maybe detaining her at the airport – though I think that is unlikely). I do think there is a risk, though, and it is worthwhile to talk to a lawyer about this before making such a trip. Take care, Jason

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santon November 14, 2017 at 8:58 pm

Thank you Jason for your kind information, What do you think if I apply to expedite my pending asylum application my application is in NY and they are interviewing April – September 2015 applicants, i applied in October 2015, Please I need your advice.
Many many thanks Jason.

Santon.

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Jason Dzubow November 15, 2017 at 6:41 pm

You can try, but it sounds like you will be interviewed relatively soon whether you expedite or not. There is no harm in trying to expedite, though. Take care, Jason

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Mike November 13, 2017 at 8:55 pm

A very timely and important post, Jason. I think one question on the I-485 that asylees need to be particularly careful with is Part 8, question 65, which asks whether you have ever concealed any information when applying for a visa or any other immigration benefit. I would say that the great majority of asylees only get to the US with a visitor or student visa by (at a minimum) concealing when they apply for that visa that they intend to remain in the US and apply for asylum. In such cases, I think applicants would do well to answer this question in the I-485 in the affirmative and explain that answer in an addendum.

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Jason Dzubow November 14, 2017 at 7:32 am

That is a tricky one. Maybe the asylees can claim that they did not intend to file for asylum when the got the visa or entered the US, but only made a decision to seek asylum after they were here. I do think a wrong answer on this question would make the applicant vulnerable, and so maybe it is safer to err on the side of caution and state “yes,” if that really is the case. I guess it would depend on the exact circumstances, and this is a good example of a question that might be thought through with a lawyer, in order to minimize the chance of a problem. Take care, Jason

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solxp November 13, 2017 at 7:51 pm

After requesting 3 times and waiting for 7 months my EAD status is card mailed 🙂 . Just wanted to share the time line here I was worried to see ” case received” status for 7 months with out change, but once with in 3 days card printing and then mailed. Renewal is taking time maybe because the receipt gives 6 month extension it will not make it priority. Good luck

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Jason Dzubow November 14, 2017 at 7:25 am

Thank you – from the date of that message, it sometimes takes a couple weeks to get the card, but hopefully you will have it very soon. Take care, Jason

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Hmo November 13, 2017 at 7:47 pm

Hello Jason,

I want to ask you about 2 points when applying for I485 knowing I grant it through asylum:

1- Is it true that I can apply 90 days prior the date which I granted asylum on?

2- Can I add my fiance (who will be my wife) to I485 application knowing that I applied as single & she is outside the US (Turkey)?

Thanks a lot Jason!

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Jason Dzubow November 14, 2017 at 7:24 am

1 – No – we used to file 30 days early, but then one application was rejected because we filed early. Since then, we wait the full year (maybe you are thinking of citizenship applications – you can file those 90 days before the 5-year anniversary of the green card). 2 – If you are married, you have to list your wife on the I-485. If you were married and you failed to list her on the asylum form (I-589), USCIS would consider that a fraud, which could create real problems for your case. But if you married her since the asylum was granted, you can list her on the I-485 without any problem. It does not help bring her here, but once you have the GC, you can file to bring her here. Take care, Jason

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Hmo November 14, 2017 at 12:18 pm

Thanks Jason for taking the time to reply to my question.

I want to clarify something on the second question please, I married her after I granted asylum so it’s not farud & I can list her on I485, isn’t listing her on I485 means that she will have a Green Card as well and she will be able to enter the US? if not what I will benefit from listing her if I will end up waiting to get my green card then apply to sponsor her green card which can take several years?

Thanks again, much appreciated!

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Jason Dzubow November 15, 2017 at 7:34 am

If you marry before the asylum decision, and you list her on the I-589 (the asylum form), then she will get asylum at the same time you do, or you can bring here to the US using form I-730 (for spouses of asylees). However, if you marry after you win asylum, the only way to bring her here is to get your GC and then file an I-130 petition for her, which takes about 2 years. If you are married, you are required to list your wife on the I-485, but that does not benefit her in any way – she does not get a GC, though once you get the GC, you can start the process of bringing her here. Take care, Jason

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John November 13, 2017 at 3:50 pm

Hi Jason your posts and information are very useful, thank you for your kind assistance. Since your recent post is about “Representations” and “Misrepresentations” and its consequences, it just click my mind to ask a related question.
I filed my Asylum application in 2014 and still waiting for my interview. Recently I decided to apply for my professional certification with Board of Accountancy and I noticed a question while filling its initial application that, “(If you have ever been convicted in any jurisdiction of a felony or misdemeanor; or have been charged with a crime, or have any charges pending against you at this time)”. My question is that how to interpret “any Jurisdiction” does it means the Jurisdictions with in US only or it means any Jurisdiction anywhere in the world. The reason I am asking is that I had received criminal charges back home in a politically motivated case where as per my duties I fought against corruption and I identified top government officials and their relatives involvement in misappropriation of public funds, as a result they falsely accused me and convicted me instead and I have received criminal charges from the court in my country, I have already explained my story in my Asylum Application. Since the Immigration and Education are two different departments I wanted to make sure should I mention my criminal charges in response to the question in the application, or should i simply say “no”, and secondly if I do not mentioned it does this mean a “Misrepresentation of Information”. And thirdly, have you experience any client who would like to pursue further education/studies having criminal charges waiting for in his/her home country seeking further education opportunities in US while the asylum application is still pending and what was the result if any, I mean the educational institute/Board would accept such kind of application or reject it based on the criminal charges I received in my home country… Best regards.

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Jason Dzubow November 14, 2017 at 7:11 am

I can’t give you advice about that form, as I know nothing about it – maybe there is a lawyer or someone who can guide you. If that were a question on an immigration form, I would encourage you to circle it and provide an explanation. If you answer it wrong, I do not think it would affect your immigration case, since it is not a form to obtain an immigration benefit, but it could (theoretically) affect your ability to meet the good moral character requirement for immigration if USCIS thinks you lied on the form. I do not think I had a situation like yours, and I do recommend you find someone knowledgeable about such forms to help guide you. Take care, Jason

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George November 13, 2017 at 11:40 am

Hi Jason !
Yeah this green card application is so long now ! And i beleive imany questions are so tricky !
I just have a question about one of them , they ask if one has worked illegally or without authorization in the US , and as for asylees many of us had worked before having our EADs in hand , is this gonna cause any problems or denials to obtain GC and citizenship? Will this also require applying for this waiver application?

Thanks a lott

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Thomas November 13, 2017 at 1:51 pm

What do you mean many of us? Not many worked before receiving permission to work.

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Sara November 13, 2017 at 6:00 pm

Whether it’s many or a few is not something any one of us can claim to know with accuracy, however I’m more inclined to agree with George that this is probably common (many).
Good question, George. Let’s see what Jason has to say.

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Jason Dzubow November 14, 2017 at 7:17 am

I have never seen statistics about this, and very likely, there are none. Many of my clients work without permission prior to obtaining the EAD, though. They have no choice, if they want to eat (and pay their exorbitant lawyer’s fees!). Take care, Jason

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Sara November 14, 2017 at 9:50 am

True, Jason! Add to that big city rents and, most notably, the BACKLOG surprise! 🎉 My family and I came here right before that whole mess started, and so everything we had planned for went right out with the window, and suddenly savings were not enough to cover the long period we were expected to wait until we were authorized to work.
I think we should all feel proud of how we still kept going after everything that got thrown at us.

Hmong Bong November 13, 2017 at 6:38 pm

Are you kidding me? I dare say at least 80-90% work without authorization in some form or for some period, unless you’re independently wealthy. There’s just NO WAY to survive if you wait for USCIS and their lengthy processing times. People just do what they need to survive.

If USCIS is going to penalize us for that, well I guess it’s been a fun ride y’all.

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Jason Dzubow November 14, 2017 at 7:20 am

There are certain penalties for working unlawfully (mostly for people who seek to change to another status), but working unlawfully does not block an asylum seeker from winning asylum. For this reason, if our client has worked illegally before the EAD, we include that information on the I-589 form. Including the info has never caused us a problem, but if we lied about it and the asylum officer learned about the lie, the asylum case could be denied. Take care, Jason

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Jason Dzubow November 13, 2017 at 6:45 pm

It may require a waiver, and it is probably better to admit the unlawful work if that is required by the form. The waiver it called an INA 209(c) waiver, and it is quite good, but you may better off doing that at the I-485 stage than later on (I just dealt with that issue today in court – luckily, it worked out just fine, but it could have ended badly). Talk to a lawyer to go over the question with you to see how best to answer. Take care, Jason

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Alan November 13, 2017 at 7:03 pm
Jason Dzubow November 15, 2017 at 7:23 am

I had two consultations yesterday with men who had been waiting for years for their asylum cases, and they are separated from their children back home. It is extremely traumatic, and in many cases, the wait (of unknown length), the stress, and the expense are more difficult to bear than the original persecution. Take care, Jason

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Sara November 15, 2017 at 5:09 pm

So sad. I hope your clients get their approvals soon so that they can reunite with their families.

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Alex November 16, 2017 at 2:38 pm

True.

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