From Bad to Worse and Then Best: How a Bad Legal Advice Could Ruin Your Case

Early 2017, we had a consultation with an anxious mom, her two children just got denied for their I-485 green card applications.  This mom and her husband immigrated to the United States through their oldest child. She had applied I-130s for two young kids but the priority dates were not current at that time. In order to avoid her family apart, they decided to have two kids come to the U.S. with them under B-2 visas. After arriving, they consulted a very experienced immigration attorney who also practices in San Francisco Bay Area. The lawyer told them they could change the kids’ status to F-1 students first and wait for the priority date. In doing so, both kids could remain in the U.S. with their parents and get their green cards here.

Unfortunately, this seemingly workable plan was in trouble when the change status applications were denied in August 2015. Two children immediately lost their status as their B2 visa expired and F-1 student status were denied. The lawyer charged them money to file motion to reconsider/reopen. He assured clients that their children would be considered in legal status while the motion was pending. As of today, clients have not heard anything from the USCIS about the outcome of the motion.

In December 2015 when visa numbers became current, the lawyer helped them to submit I-485s. Several months later, two children were interviewed by the USCIS. In early 2017, USCIS denied their I-485s on the ground that, at the time of I-485 filing, they did not have valid legal status in the US. Their lawyer then suggested them to file another motion to contest USCIS decision. Finally, the mother realized that maybe her lawyer was wrong all this time. She was referred by her friend to talk to us about her case.

Being an immigration lawyer, one must be clear and understand the immigration rules thoroughly. Details determine success or failure. First, at the time the B-2 visa expires, the school has not yet started for more than 30 days. From status changed from B-2 to F, USCIS allows when the school anticipated start date is within 30 days after B visa expires. If more than 30 days gap in between, the application will be denied even the client had submitted it before B visa expires. Second, even a motion was filed; client will not have valid legal status in the US. Client cannot file I-485 during this time. Finally, if client followed her former lawyer's advice to challenge the I-485 denials, her two children would have been in much worse situation today. 

We changed the strategy completely. It took less than ten months to have the case succeeded. Today, two kids have received their green card.

Do you still trust just any lawyers and follow their advice?