On October 20, 2015, Dyan Williams Law PLLC celebrated its first-year anniversary and I celebrated the end of my first year as a solo practitioner. It’s been a wonderful journey. Although the prior 10+ years I spent at other law firms were rewarding, my 1 year at Dyan Williams Law proved to be much more. I enjoy every single day of operating my own law firm, doing phenomenal work, and serving an excellent group of clients.
Our first year came to a close with most of our immigration cases approved and none denied. Others are in the works or are pending with the immigration agencies. One true success story involved USCIS’ expedited approval of a Form I-212 waiver request for a very deserving client.
Our client – an Immigrant Visa applicant – was unable to obtain his 2015 Diversity Visa without an I-212 waiver granting him permission to re-enter the U.S. following an expedited removal order. During the month of May, the U.S. Consulate granted the diversity visas to his wife (principal DV applicant) and young child (derivative DV applicant), but instructed him to first obtain an I-212 waiver. He was unaware that he needed the waiver until the U.S. Consulate informed him.
Two years ago, he presented his visitor’s visa at an international airport to gain entry into the U.S. Instead of admitting him, the U.S. Customs & Border Protection placed him in secondary inspection and questioned him about his prior visits. After he admitted to previously working in the U.S. without proper authorization, he was summarily removed from the U.S. and sent back immediately to his home country. His visitor visa was revoked and he was barred from re-entering the U.S. for five years, up until 2018.
The cut-off date to receive the 2015 Diversity Visa was September 30, the end of the DV Lottery fiscal year. Because he had only four months to obtain the visa when he contacted me in May about his I-212 application, I had to prepare a strong waiver request that would be readily and expeditiously approved by USCIS. The normal processing time for I-212 applications is 6 to 12 months.
I first had to review the Notice of Expedited Removal Order to determine why exactly he needed the waiver. Fortunately, he was not charged with fraud or willful misrepresentation to gain entry into the U.S. Had this been the case, he would have needed a separate I-601 waiver, for which he was not eligible.
In particular, for I-601 purposes, he did not have a qualifying relative (U.S. citizen spouse or parent who would suffer extreme hardship if he were not admitted to the U.S.) Although his wife received her Diversity Visa, she first had to land in the U.S. and be admitted to the country to become a permanent resident. And he had to accompany her to the United States on his Diversity Visa at the same time to become a permanent resident.
I next had to learn about all the relevant details, including the unusual hardships he and his family would suffer if he were not admitted to the U.S., his work experience and professional qualifications, and the harsh conditions in his home country. I further counseled him on the documentary evidence he should provide to support his waiver request. I also researched and gathered additional reports and articles on the terrible conditions in his home country.
It took him about one month to collect and provide all the required information and documents needed for the I-212 waiver. On June 24, I filed the I-212 application with the USCIS Field Office in Boston, MA, which had jurisdiction to decide the case. That office, however, (mistakenly) transferred the application to the Nebraska Service Center (NSC), where the I-212 sat for about two months for “administrative processing.” This unnecessary transfer added to the processing time. On August 20, NSC sent the case back to the Boston Field Office for a decision.
To support the I-212 waiver application, I presented a thorough legal brief describing how the positive factors outweighed the negative factors, and why my client deserved the waiver as a matter of discretion, under the law. I also provided compelling reasons for expedited processing (i.e. adjudication of the I-212 waiver application within 3 months). I argued that an emergency situation, humanitarian reasons, and subsequently, USCIS error and/or compelling interest of USCIS, existed to satisfy the criteria for an expedited decision.
After I submitted multiple follow-up letters to USCIS (including the Boston Field Office and NSC) describing the urgency of the situation, the USCIS adjudications officer in Boston made a personal telephone call to me on September 23. He informed me that I had presented a compelling case and he would approve the I-212 (just 7 days before the September 30th deadline to receive the visa). He faxed the approval notice to the U.S. Consulate and emailed me a copy.
I then advised my client to immediately contact the U.S. Consulate for a diversity visa issuance prior to September 30. Thankfully, the U.S. Consulate granted the visa on September 25.
The timely I-212 approval and visa grant allowed him to accompany his wife and child to the United States. Their admission to the U.S. on diversity immigrant visas makes them lawful permanent residents. If USCIS had denied the I-212, the applicant would have been stuck in his war-torn country (at least for a few years, until he could obtain an immigrant visa based on a petition by his permanent resident wife).
This client and I communicated only by email. He decided to hire me after his friend in the U.S. completed a Skype consultation with me and became convinced that I was the best attorney for his case. Despite our never meeting in person, we formed a trust-based relationship and collaborative partnership that contributed to a successful and timely outcome.
So far, the expedited approval of the I-212 waiver application in this Diversity Visa case is one of my most memorable, true success stories, since I established Dyan Williams Law PLLC. I look forward to doing more great work and helping more clients study, work and live lawfully in the United States, reunite with their American families, and become U.S. citizens.