Openers

Posted on: November 29th, 2017
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Dear Readers:

For most of my career, immigration law has been a practice that largely could be done from my desk. Applications submitted on behalf of clients are submitted by mail or electronically. In most cases, you never see the person deciding the case and you may not even need to see the client in person. Immigration law is a federal practice area so many in the field represent clients nationally. There are lawyers that focus on family immigration and remoal defense that have always represented clients at local office interviews and gone to court on behalf of clients facing deportation. Indeed, I have several colleagues who fit that category. My practice, however, is largely focused on employment and business immigration.

But 2017 is a year that is bringing rapid transformation to the practice thanks to the policies of the Trump Administration. The President’s Buy American, Hire American executive order has rapidly changed the mindset at USCIS and the other government agencies and we’ve seen a dramatic increase in requests for evidence issued in employment-based cases. We’re seeing a spike in audits and on-site visits. We’re seeing cases taking considerably longer than in the past. For years, many immigration lawyers could expect well-documented cases to be approved without too much incident. But that’s changing quickly.

So what is the immigration lawyer to do to help clients? First and foremost, lawyers are brushing off the dust on their litigation manuals and are now increasingly turning to suing the government to force them to do their job correctly and in a reasonable timeframe. My colleage Lily Axelrod and I flew to Portland, Oregon a few weeks back to participate in the American Immigration Council’s Business Immigration Litigation Institute that was designed to help the business immigration bar become more comfortable with suing the government. The program was enlightening and we’re preparing our cases on the front end to better position us to sue the government if need be.

USCIS also has started interviewing all applicants for employment-based adjustment of status. That means that all of the people applying for the 140,000 employment-based green cards available each year who are processing from within the US must be interviewed (including family members). Examiners at local USCIS offices are conducting the interviews with virtually no training and applicants who may have been waiting for years for their green cards are suddenly dealing with a new uncertainty in the process. Lawyers can represent their clients at these interviews and because many clients are interviewing in parts of the country where their lawyers are not located, practitioners are cooperating with colleagues across the US to ensure people have access to counsel wherever needed. My firm has already represented clients of lawyers outside of our geographic area and, likewise, we have been working with other law firms to ensure our clients have representation at these new interviews.

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In this issue of the newsletter, we’re including the guide to US immigration that we’ve been updating each year for the last 10+ years. It’s a 15-page article that lays out broadly how the whole system works and provides a succinct summary of the key features of each of the major immigration categories.

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In firm news over the last month, our lawyers have been speaking on immigration law in forums near and afar. I’ve spoken at the International Bar Association’s annual meeting in Sydney Australia and its biannual global immigration conference in London. I’ve also spoken at American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) chapter conferences in the Dominican Republic and in London. Lynn Susser served as a panelist on an AILA breaking news teleconference on the new I-485 interview requirement. James Hollis, Adam Cohen, Ari Sauer and Lily Axelrod were all speakers at the AILA Midsouth Chapter conference in Nashville. I was also a panelist on an American Bar Association webinar on Twitter for lawyers.

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Finally, I’m pleased to announce that I’ve co-written a new book with Bruce Buchanan entitled The I-9 and E-Verify Handbook which provides in depth information on this increasingly important subject. The book is available on Amazon at http://a.co/aAXEkwa.

Regards,

Greg Siskind

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