Saying Thanks on Thanksgiving Day

It’s Thanksgiving Day in the United States. The tradition is to gather with loved ones, share a meal (that includes turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie), and express gratitude.

This year, there are COVID-19 guidelines and restrictions that affect holiday plans. Some will stay at home with their immediate family members, and keep relatives and friends outside their household at a physical distance — either by personal choice or due to state mandates.

We’ve had difficult decisions to make. We’ve experienced ripple effects in the United States and around the world. There are a wide range of opinions and thoughts on how to respond to this crisis.

It’s okay to find advantages in the “new normal” – like remote work, flexible schedules, and more family time.

It’s okay to feel grief, discomfort and perhaps anger over lockdowns and restrictions – like bans on social gatherings, physical distancing measures, closures of small businesses, and the erosion of personal relationships and mentorship opportunities.

It’s okay to be upset with those who flout the rules (especially if you have older parents or other vulnerable family members).

It’s okay to question the rules (especially if you live in a free democracy and your livelihood is at stake).

No doubt, 2020 has been a wild, roller coaster ride for most people around the globe. You’re not alone if this year did not turn out the way you wished or expected.

But we can always find someone or something to be grateful for. Nothing is too small to celebrate. Being thankful will soften your heart, lift your spirit, bring hope and shift your mindset.

We have the innate superpowers of acceptance, patience and resilience to tackle any adversity or setback. Learn more HERE in my blog post, 3 superpowers to be thankful for in a rough year.

And if you want to gain traction for the new year, check out my e-book, The Incrementalist: A Simple Productivity System to Create Big Results in Small Steps. For a limited- time offer through December 4 (11:59 pm Central Time), the minimum price will drop to $4.99 (from $9.99) on leanpub.com. Get the book while it’s on sale!

Whether you’re a client, a subscriber, or visitor on my website, I appreciate your audience. Wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, stay well, stay strong, and stay connected.

Saying thanks on Thanksgiving Day,

Dyan Williams

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Dyan Williams is a solo lawyer who practices U.S. immigration law and legal ethics at Dyan Williams Law PLLC. She is also a productivity coach who helps working parents, lawyers, small business owners and other busy people turn their ideas into action, reduce overwhelm, and focus on what truly matters. She is the author of The Incrementalist: A Simple Productivity System to Create Big Results in Small Steps, an e-book at http://leanpub.com/incrementalist.

3 superpowers to be thankful for in a rough year

Being thankful in a rough year – like 2020 – is tough. The COVID-19 situation, economic fallout, and socio-political unrest have led to changes we did not expect. The end of the year (including Thanksgiving season in the United States) is an ideal time to reflect on what has been and what might be.

While adversity brings pain and discomfort, we have 3 superpowers to get us through it and out. They are acceptance, patience and resilience. We need each and all of them to keep ourselves together when life falls apart.

Acceptance.

When you accept what-is, you see things for what they truly are, rather than wish them to be different. You process unpleasant thoughts and emotions instead of suppress them. You keep climbing the steep cliff to get to the top, not jump off midway at your own peril.

Acceptance is not the same as giving up, condoning, or being complacent. You still have desires, goals and preferences. You still seek to make changes or defend the status quo. But you distinguish between what you control and what you don’t control. You recognize that while you might not have a say in big decisions, it’s your small daily actions that really matter.

You accept that you don’t always get what you want and you don’t have to get everything you want. You accept the present moment and the past, and you attend to the next moment and the future. You decide what you need to hold on to and what you have to let go of.

You’re not hooked on being right. You stop labeling yourself and others. You understand that choices and actions are based on nuanced and complex reasons, not one-dimensional motives. You’re able to engage with others who have different opinions and perspectives. You don’t just resort to labeling, blaming, stereotyping, censoring, and shutting down disagreements.

Although it’s comforting to be with kindred sprits, we grow and stretch more from seeking to understand those who are not. By staying open to conflict and tension, we gain a more holistic view of the world. This helps us sort facts from interpretations, distinguish narratives from truth, and separate groupthink from our own thoughts.

With the superpower of acceptance, we’re able to transform unbearable difficulties into welcome opportunities. We move from emotional rigidity to emotional agility. Only then can we make choices and take action in alignment with who we want to be in a given situation.

Patience.

Patience is an essential virtue for navigating uncertainty. It keeps your nervous system calm and your immune system strong. But we don’t get to exercise it much when our credit cards, smart phones, microwaves, and Amazon Prime make it so easy to get what we want right now.

Patience is allowing outcomes to unfold and goals to be reached organically and in due course — when more striving or more complaining is counterproductive. We practice waiting to get unfulfilled needs met while we look for substitutes and alternatives.

It often takes years to master our craft, optimize our skills, discover our gifts, and apply our strengths to create massive impact. There is no magic pill. There’s no overnight success.

Along the path, you might need to slow down, drop the stones you’ve been carrying, and lighten the load. Trust your natural rhythm and make space for rest, rather than obsess over your ability to produce.

With the superpower of patience, we know when to keep going, when to pause, and when to quit. We use routines, rituals, and repetition to get a little better every day. We make small tweaks in tiny moments to make a big difference. We course correct instead of rely on auto-pilot.

Resilience.

Having the grit to move through tough times, trusting yourself, and acting courageously are necessary to deal with life’s realities. To bounce back from major setbacks and everyday disappointment, we need to embrace vulnerabilities, have strong connections, honor our needs, process resentment, and find humor in grief.

Resilience helps us to move forward, flourish and thrive regardless of what life brings our way. We feel the anger, sadness and fear that come from losses, but we don’t let these feelings and emotions break our spirit. We can bend and flex in appropriate situations and hold our boundaries and set limits when necessary.

To get over rocky terrain, you have get back up and brush yourself off when you stumble or fall. You keep moving even when your confidence is shaken.

To cultivate resilience, you practice a wide range of responses and explore different possibilities for recovery. Sometimes you need to take the wait-and-see approach, not take instant action. Sometimes you need to move through rough patches, not end the relationship. Sometimes you need to laugh more, not meditate more. Sometimes you need to talk to a trusted confidante, not journal about your inner conflicts.

When you find meaning in crisis and purpose in hardships, you create resolve and strength to overcome. You drop the victim mentality. You don’t wait for others to take you in, take care of you or stand up for you. You put yourself in charge. You stand on your own and yet ask for help and receive it well when it’s given.

With the superpower of resilience, you have the ability to respond to setbacks and not just get strung along by external circumstances and conditions. You replace self-pity, anxiety and worry with a positive mindset. You see the big picture. You consider the temporary nature and existential uncertainty of all things.

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Acceptance, patience and resilience are 3 superpowers to be thankful for in a rough year. They help us see the silver linings, no matter how faint they might be. They are natural and innate, but they can be crushed out with profound loss, defeat, disappointment, trauma and fear-based messaging. We must keep cultivating, rediscovering and developing these superpowers to withstand crisis, create bonds, defend boundaries, and grow from hardships.

Regardless of the depth and breadth of adversity you face, there’s a high probability you’ll get through it and out. Your being alive is proof you’ve done it before.

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Dyan Williams is a solo lawyer who practices U.S. immigration law and legal ethics at Dyan Williams Law PLLC. She is also a productivity coach who helps working parents, lawyers, small business owners and other busy people turn their ideas into action, reduce overwhelm, and focus on what truly matters. She is the author of The Incrementalist: A Simple Productivity System to Create Big Results in Small Steps, an e-book at http://leanpub.com/incrementalist.

Staying Solo Successfully in Tumultuous 2020

On October 20, I celebrated my 6th year as a solo lawyer at Dyan Williams Law PLLC. It was a quiet acknowledgement in the middle of COVID-19 stress, civil unrest, political polarization, and a very divisive election year in the United States.

As I write this article on Wednesday, November 4th, we have yet to know the final outcome of the U.S. presidential election. Many are feeling discomfort, anxiety, anger, and worry over the uncertainty. Regardless of whether incumbent Donald Trump or challenger Joe Biden is elected as the 46th U.S. President, there are fears that political unrest will continue. The social isolation related to COVID-19 measures has added to the distress.

While the distractions and changes continue to mount, we are still expected to show up, do our part, and fulfill responsibilities in daily life.

In this tumultuous year of 2020, there are days when I wish business would slow down more. This is a fine line to walk in the present economy. While it’s great to have meaningful work to do, it can be hard to tackle other people’s problems in unstable times.

There is much to be thankful for. I still have a thriving law firm that helps clients achieve their U.S. immigration objectives, even as COVID-19 related travel restrictions, cancellation of visa interview appointments, and many unknowns persist. On the upside, I’ve had USCIS grant green cards, waivers and other benefits, and the U.S. Consulates lift inadmissibility bars and issue visas to my clients this year.

As a productivity coach, I’m helping lawyers, busy professionals and working parents maintain their sanity, build resilience and make progress on the things that really matter. I draw from my experience working remotely from my home office, with my husband and our two young children in close proximity.

Since the COVID-19 restrictions began in March, my family and I have been together through unprecedented changes, such as schools closing and businesses requiring or encouraging their teams to work from home. While the upending of normal life can lead to positive changes and a reemphasis on the highest priorities, it is a perpetual stress test. If we fail to manage it, it may result in our own destruction and society’s fracturing.

A key practice that has been essential to me is to respond with grace and compassion. When you’re faced with fast changes and unlimited demands or requests, you might move too quickly into resistance mode and defensive positions.

To lengthen our fuse and hold our center, we need to take care of ourselves, including our mind, heart, body and spirit. Otherwise, we won’t have the interest, composure, energy, or patience to respond effectively and break negative cycles.

As a lawyer, I get to deal with the problems, dilemmas and crises of my clients. When you have clients that are often in worse situations than yours, it’s easy to forget about self-care. But to be responsive in the most effective way, you need to have boundaries and set priorities. You must avoid the madness that comes with trying to do too many things all at once.

We also need to pivot, innovate and adapt to changes that are outside of our control. There are new opportunities in every crisis. Being a consistent player in our business arena, professional space or personal life will help us make vital progress, no matter how small it might seem.

We also have to confront our own biases and integrate multiple perspectives to navigate uncertainty. A big mental roadblock is confirmation bias, which means we hear what we want to hear, and see what we want to see. We have habit loops that keep us glued to the same sources of information. We have default networks that filter out information that disconfirm existing beliefs.

If you are breaking off relationships purely due to political differences and ideological disagreements, ask yourself whether you’re allowing divisive rhetoric in news media and social media to manipulate you.

Invite real discourse and participate in conscious conversations. Listen deeply to understand the stories, backgrounds, and experiences that shape the values of others who have conflicting viewpoints. Don’t allow your subconscious mind to dictate your behaviors and actions.

By confronting your biases and challenging your opinions, you might start to uncover commonalities that you did not know existed. Only then can we have civil discussions, increase mutual understanding, and form nonpartisan or bipartisan alliances to create lasting and positive changes.

Like many other eligible voters, I was bombarded with skewed messages on what to think of the 2020 political candidates and who to vote for and who to vote against. There was so much noise and distortion coming from so many angles.

While voting is an important civic duty, the act itself involves little effort. You have a lot more to do in terms of how you respond to the results, make space for whatever unfolds, and engage with others to inspire positive action.

The choices you make are probably not as important as how you form them. If we want to hold our society together, maintain civility, and address real problems, we need to know how to think clearly and make better decisions.

To learn more, check out my three-part commentary on reducing bias, framing and reframing problems, and owning your decisions:

How to Think Clearly and Make Better Decisions: Part 1 – Get out of echo chambers

How to Think Clearly and Make Better Decisions: Part 2 – Frame and reframe the problem

How to Think Clearly and Make Better Decisions: Part 3 – Keep Experts on Tap, Not on Top

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Dyan Williams is a solo lawyer who practices U.S. immigration law and legal ethics at Dyan Williams Law PLLC. She is also a productivity coach who helps lawyers, small business owners and other busy people reduce overwhelm and make time for what truly matters. She is the author of The Incrementalist: A Simple Productivity System to Create Big Results in Small Steps, an e-book at http://leanpub.com/incrementalist.

How to Think Clearly and Make Better Decisions: Part 3 – Keep Experts on Tap, Not on Top

Information overload and rapid changes make it hard to process data without relying on the experts. When you outsource your thinking to external forms of intelligence (human or machine), you can minimize worry and decision fatigue. But you also give up your power, hand over responsibility, and often make fear-driven, misaligned choices.

It’s not only problematic to completely dismiss experts, but to also blindly follow them. By all means, pull from big data and outside expertise and extract value from their insights. Just make sure to reclaim control of the thinking process and own your decisions. This is critical in navigating uncertainty and ambiguous situations.

In part 1 of this 3-part article, I discuss getting out of your echo chambers to reduce cognitive bias. In part 2, I explain why you need to frame and reframe the problem before you implement or pursue an action plan.

The third step to thinking clearly and making better decisions is to keep experts on tap, but not on top.

Harvard University lecturer and global-trend watcher, Dr. Vikram Mansharamani, cautions against over-reliance on experts and technologies in our data-flooded world. In his book, Think for Yourself: Restoring Common Sense in an Age of Experts and Artificial Intelligence, he outlines how to draw from expertise as needed, without losing control of your decisions.

1. Categorize the nature of the problem

When tapping into experts to make decisions, it’s important to first assess the situation. The Cynefin framework offers five contexts (domains) defined by cause-and-effect relationships: obviouscomplicatedcomplexchaotic, and disorder.

Cynefin, pronounced “ku-nev-in,” is a Welsh word that means “place” or “habitat.” It was developed in 1999 by scholar David J. Snowden when he worked for IBM Global Services. It gives you a sense of place from which to understand your views about a problem.

The Cynefin Framework. In the center is Disorder. (Source: Own Work – Snowded)

Disorder

The Disorder domain is the starting point. It’s where you don’t know which of the four domains is relevant to your situation.

In this domain, you define the nature of the problem. Beware framing it exclusively around your preferred tools and favorite solutions.

ObviousThe Domain of Best Practice

In the Obvious domain (known until 2014 as simple, more recently renamed to clear by Snowden), the cause and effect relationships are predictable and repeatable. The answers are self-evident to a reasonable person with technical knowledge of the work involved.

Examples are building a house, calculating the interest due on a credit card, and creating a website with a template.

In this domain, you Sense — Categorize — Respond, i.e. you assess the situation, categorize it, and use best practice to respond to it. If the project fails, it is usually due to failure of process, such as not having clear checklists or not following the written script.

ComplicatedThe Domain of Good Practice

In the Complicated domain, the cause and effect relationships are present, but not obvious. There could be several symptoms of a problem with different solutions. Thus, an expert is needed to pinpoint the exact cause and recommend a solution.

Examples are designing a bridge, fixing a car that won’t start, and figuring out legitimate claims for a lawsuit.

In this domain, you Sense — Analyze — Respond, i.e. you assess the situation, analyze what is known (with help from experts), and use good practice to respond to it. If the project fails, it’s often due to insufficient information on which to analyze the problem.

ComplexThe Domain of Emergent Practice

In the Complex domain, the cause and effect relationships are unpredictable and only obvious in hindsight. Business changes, socio-economic restructuring, and political upheaval fall in this category. There are many moving parts; multiple stakeholders with different thoughts, behaviors, opinions and requirements; and problems that are not fully solvable. This is where data can lead to misleading results.

A prime example is managing a global crisis, like COVID-19. In the United States, for example, the country is divided over restrictions, such as self-quarantines, lockdowns, physical/social distancing, and wearing face masks to curb the spread of the virus.

It’s difficult to build trust and provide consistent messaging as data evolves. It’s hard to get unwavering support for guidelines and mandates that affect qualify of life, including economic stability, ability to work, access to education, mental health, social bonds and cultural fabric.

In this domain, you Probe — Sense — Respond, i.e. you test to gather more data, experiment to understand the problem, and look for patterns to allow a solution to emerge. Failure is expected and is part of the learning process. Clear communication and integrated multi-disciplinary teams are key to developing new ideas.

Chaotic: The Domain of Novel Practice

In the Chaotic domain, the cause and effect relationships cannot be be determined. This is an extreme situation where one cannot wait for information to respond. Action is the first and only way to respond.

Examples are the September 11 terrorist attacks (the deadliest on U.S. soil to date) and the collapse of Enron (the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history so far).

In this domain, you Act — Sense — Respond, i.e. you act to establish order, sense where stability lies, and respond to transform the situation from chaotic to complex. Top-down communication and identifying emerging patterns to prevent future crisis are essential.

The boundary between the Obvious and Chaotic domains is unique. If — at the Disorder stage — the problem is wrongly defined as obvious (simple), when it is not, and the work becomes more complicated and there is no appropriate response, the project can slip into chaos.

Simple problems can be solved with known steps. But when the problem is more complex, connecting the dots is more important than making the dots.

2. Manage your focus

Because experts operate in silos, they are less reliable in complex dynamics where you need multiple perspectives. Data overload is a bigger problem when you can’t outsource your thinking to a single expert. You have to look for what’s missing and check your blind spots, rather than depend on an external source.

You need to manage where, how and on what you focus. If you are lost in the details, you easily overlook critical developments, unique opportunities, and potential risks. If you are too focused on the big picture, you miss important details as well as subtle but relevant changes.

3. Consider context

Pay attention to the limits of the information from experts and AI intelligence. Is it relevant to the current context? What was the context in which the data was gathered? Is it similar to or different from your situation?

Here’s an example of why context matters in decision-making:

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) notes that wearing masks slows the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. They can reduce the spray of droplets when worn over the nose and mouth, which is important in public settings. The CDC recommends you wear a mask anywhere you will be around other people.

But to date, very little is being said about the possible harms of wearing a mask for extended periods for months on end. If schools fully open up, kids may be required to wear a mask for six to eight hours a day, Monday through Friday, month after month — except for limited activities, like eating and drinking.

Does protracted use of face coverings raise CO2 levels in the blood that could be harmful? Might it increase the severity of the symptoms if you’re infected with the virus but don’t yet know? Does it carry long-term health risks that have yet to be discovered?

So far, there is conflicting data. From a precautionary standpoint, it makes sense to wear a mask in public settings for limited periods. But having kids wear a mask for six to eight hours daily, while in school, is a different context. Because health experts lack clear answers, parents and families need to use their own internal compass to navigate this nuanced issue.

4. Integrate multiple perspectives

Experts have deep knowledge in their specific field. They bring unique skills and experience to the decision-making process. But they have their own biases and agendas, no matter how objective they claim to be. Because their expertise doesn’t cover the entire range of a complex problem, they’re not always better equipped to make decisions for you.

The law of the instrument (Maslow’s hammer) is a cognitive bias that makes us default to familiar tools to solve new problems. If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to try and fix everything as if it were a nail, without considering other tools.

Deep expertise has to be complemented with a broad perspective. You ask questions about the expert’s assumptions, motivations and self-interests. You examine whether the proposed solutions are based on replicable research, inconclusive studies, or working hypotheses. You triangulate multiple perspectives from various experts instead of rely on one. You gather pieces of the puzzle from a cross-disciplinary team of experts.

While it takes effort to seek input from a diversity of experts, integrated thinking improves decision quality.

5. Go beyond first-order thinking

A singular problem-solving approach with a single goal is not inherently bad. Sometimes this is necessary in a crisis. But once we move from the Chaotic to the Complex domain, we need to inquire more deeply about the tradeoffs and ripple effects of the initial solution. A more holistic approach is needed to address complex issues that have long-term consequences.

In solving complex problems, it’s not enough to engage in first-order thinking. This means using the most obvious and direct path to get an immediate result, short-term fix, or quick output.

With second-and third-order thinking, you consider the long-term effects and unintentional consequences, which are different from desired outcomes. This means questioning assumptions, exploring other options, and taking stock of the second-order and third-order consequences of your first-order decision.

You gather a wide range of well-reasoned viewpoints to reassess the situation. You work hard to rebut instead of confirm your initial theories and ideas. You make use of devil’s advocates in strategic planning. You invite disagreement without being disagreeable. You open up to competing facts and arguments that challenge deeply held beliefs and cherished positions.

To control the spread of the virus, many U.S. states and some countries imposed lockdowns, which included ordering businesses closed, schools shut, and citizens to self-quarantine at home. The fallout included second-order and third-order effects like high unemployment, bankruptcy filings, education gaps, increased drug use, reduced health screenings, and mental despair.

Dr. David Nabarro of the World Health Organization (WHO) noted that lockdowns are a good tactic for a chaotic situation, where the virus spread is out of control and the health system is likely to be overwhelmed. It’s a way to buy time to reorganize, regroup and rebalance resources. It’s not meant to be a primary control method.

Ivor Cummins, a health activist and biochemical engineer, has published data-driven COVID-19 reports that raise lockdown skepticism. He points out the WHO has broken its own guidelines in 2019 and prior years that advise against quarantines in a pandemic.

There are 10 to 15 published studies concluding lockdowns are ineffective. Cummins notes they work only if you’re an island nation looking to keep the virus out. Once the virus is broadly in the country, there’s no justification for having them, he argues. Because such viewpoints do not fit within the mainstream narrative, they tend to be ignored by the media that thrives on sensationalism and spreading fear.

Today – while the number of COVID-19 positive tests is rising (due in large part to exponential increase in testing) – the death rate is going down, hospitals are not being overrun, and therapeutic treatment is improving significantly. More people die of COVID than with it.

The opposite would have to be true for the COVID-19 situation to turn to chaos and justify lockdowns as a last resort. If implemented, do the benefits outweigh the costs? Is this tool being used inappropriately to control the virus spread when it’s better designed for other purposes?

There is also a push for a COVID-19 vaccine, where safety and effectiveness have to outweigh the risks. Billionaire Microsoft Corporation co-founder-turned-philanthropist, Bill Gates, said in an October 11th interview on NBC’s Meet the Press:

“The only way we’ll get completely back to normal is by having, maybe not the first generation of vaccines, but eventually a vaccine that is super-effective, and that a lot of the people take, and that we get the disease eliminated on a global basis.”

Then he added, “That is where we can finally start taking all the problems that have been created — in education, mental health — and start to build back in a positive way.” (Start at 23:28-minute mark of video.)

In short, Gates proposes a siloed approach to solve a complex global problem. It emphasizes a specific tactic that misses the forest for the trees. It ignores second-and-third-order consequences that might be a higher priority for non-billionaires and less privileged people.

Balance your reliance on experts with common sense

We need experts and artificial intelligence to help us make informed decisions on complex issues. But we also have to skillfully integrate these information sources to capitalize on their value and think for ourselves.

It’s reasonable to consult an expert when you seek to protect your health, pick investments, or solve a legal issue. But no matter how qualified your doctor, financial advisor or lawyer might be, you must also use your common sense and apply your own wisdom.

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To learn more about thinking clearly and making better decisions, read part 1 (Get out of echo chambers) and 2 (Frame and reframe the problem) of this multipart article.

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Dyan Williams is a solo lawyer who practices U.S. immigration law and legal ethics at Dyan Williams Law PLLC. She is also a productivity coach who helps working parents, lawyers, small business owners and other busy people turn their ideas into action, reduce overwhelm, and focus on what truly matters. . She is the author of The Incrementalist: A Simple Productivity System to Create Big Results in Small Steps, an e-book at http://leanpub.com/incrementalist.

Approval of I-601 Fraud/Misrepresentation Waiver + Immigrant Visa Grant = A True Success Story

After USCIS approved the Form I-601 application we prepared on his behalf, our client received his Immigrant Visa and joined his permanent resident parents in the United States. Prior to getting the waiver, he was refused the visa under INA 212(a)(6)(C)(i), i.e. fraud or willful misrepresentation of material fact to previously obtain entry to the U.S. on a B1/B2 visitor visa.

With our guidance, he proved to USCIS that his aging mother and father would face extreme hardships if he did not receive admission to the United States. The Form I-601 approval permitted the issuance of Immigrant Visas to the applicant and his accompanying wife and two minor children.

Problem: Permanent Bar Under INA 212(a)(6)(C)(i)

Section 212(a)(6)(C)(i) of the Immigration & Nationality Act (INA) states that a person who, by fraud or willfully misrepresenting a material fact, seeks to procure (or has sought to procure or has procured) a visa, admission to the U.S. or any other U.S. immigration benefit is inadmissible. This is a lifetime bar to entering the United States.

In this case, in the early 1990s, our client attended high school while he was on a visitor visa, instead of on the proper F-1 student visa. A U.S. citizen family friend — who later became his legal guardian — encouraged him to begin attending a U.S. high school during his temporary visits. A minor at the time, he would consistently depart the United States before his authorized stay expired and then re-enter to continue his studies.

Two years later, he was denied admission at a U.S. port of entry, upon presenting his valid passport and unexpired visitor visa. He was still under age 18 at that point. The U.S. customs officers thought he spoke English too well to be just a visitor. With further inquiry, they discovered he was attending school and working part-time in the United States during his temporary stays. His visa was cancelled and he went back to Mexico.

A few days later, he returned to the United States by crossing the U.S.-Mexico border on foot without inspection. He did not encounter any border patrol agents or present any false documents or information to re-enter the United States and finish high school.

Following his high school graduation, he departed the United States and established a comfortable life in his home country. He became a family man with a spouse and two children. He developed a solid career in warehouse management and logistics.

About 20 years later, he applied for an Immigrant Visa based on an approved Form I-130 petition his U.S. citizen brother filed on his behalf. At the Immigrant Visa interview, the U.S. consular officer found him inadmissible under INA 212(a)(6)(C)(i) for misrepresenting the main purpose of his visit when he requested admission to the United States in the mid-1990s on his B-2 visitor visa to continue his education.

During the visa interview, he admitted under oath to the consular officer that he had attempted to enter the United States using his visitor visa by stating he was coming to the U.S. for a visit. But he intended to return to school and a part-time job. Although he did not affirmatively present false information to the U.S. customs officer, his own testimony at the visa interview led the U.S. Consulate to deny him the visa under INA 212(a)(6)(C)(i). He was instructed to file a Form I-601 application for waiver of inadmissibility.

Solution: Form I-601 Waiver Under INA 212(i)

Section 212(i) of the INA provides a waiver of the fraud/misrepresentation bar if the applicant is the spouse, son, or daughter of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident who will suffer extreme hardship if the applicant’s request for admission to the United States is denied.

After agreeing to represent the applicant, I counseled him on the documentary evidence and written testimonies he needed to present to USCIS. These included detailed affidavits from the applicant and his family members, medical records and psychological evaluation reports for the parents, and proof of his U.S. citizen brother’s limited income and multiple responsibilities.

To support the Form I-601 application, I submitted a legal memorandum describing the extreme hardships the permanent resident parents would suffer if the applicant did not receive the Immigrant Visa for admission to the United States. The memo also explained why his U.S. citizen brother needed his help and support to care for their aging parents. Furthermore, it was not a viable option for the parents to relocate to the applicant’s home country due to the lack of health care, high crime rate, and poor living conditions.

Even if the applicant meets all the eligibility requirements, the USCIS officer must also decide whether to grant the waiver as a matter of discretion. Because fraud or willful misrepresentation of material fact to obtain a U.S. immigration benefit is a serious violation, we emphasized the applicant was a minor, at the time, who reasonably relied on the advice of his legal guardian. In addition, his professional qualifications, family responsibilities, lack of a criminal history, and close relationship with his permanent resident parents were positive factors that outweighed the unfavorable ones.

Outcome: Waiver Approval + Immigrant Visa Grant

Consistent with average wait times, USCIS took a year to process and approve the Form I-601 waiver application. Several months later, the applicant was scheduled for a follow-up interview at the U.S. Consulate, which issued the Immigrant Visas to him and his spouse and two children.

He and his accompanying derivative beneficiaries became permanent residents of the United States upon their admission on Immigrant Visas. He finally reunited with his parents and U.S. citizen brother after they had lived in separate countries for 20+ years. This is a true success story.

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This article provides general information only. It is based on law, regulations and policy that are subject to change. Do not consider it as legal advice for any individual case or situation. Each case is different and case examples do not constitute a prediction or guarantee of success or failure in any other case. The sharing or receipt of this information does not create an attorney-client relationship.

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