Law Offices of Chris M. Ingram

    American Dream – Preparing Yourself for the Immigration Process/Immigration Case Studies

    Preparing Yourself for the Immigration Process

    Getting Into the Right Frame of Mind: When it comes to the actual immigration process you first have to come to terms with the fact that you will not be dealing with an English system. Every country has its own way of doing things. Some countries appear very chaotic so we immediately adjust our minds for chaos while other countries may appear very organized and therefore we expect that if we press all the right buttons or complete all the right paperwork everything will work just like clock work. Most people when they think about immigrating to America think ‘ah yes America is a highly developed country with rules and regulations and therefore all I need to do press the right buttons and complete all the right forms and everything will go smoothly’.Better still, hire an attorney and let them deal with it, either way it’s pretty much a done deal. I wouldn’t say ‘nothing is further from the truth’, but I would say, ‘with that mentality you would be half right’.

    The best frame of mind to have when approaching US immigration, is that even though you might be eligible to apply for certain visas, this does not mean you will be successful. Of course from all the publicity you read from various immigration agencies, attorneys and the Embassy will paint a very simplistic picture, which is all well and good as that’s slick marketing and public relations. In reality, immigration is a very complicated business and I’ll explain why by looking at the role of the visa applicant, their attorney and the immigration officer.

    The Visa Applicant: No visa applicants are the same, but all the laws and rules for immigration are, at least superficially, (and I’ll explain what I mean by ‘superficially’ later), universal or the same. This means that if ten eligible applicants apply for the same visa not all ten will necessarily be successful. Each of the ten applicants will have strong and weak points in their particular profile that will result in a decision being made either way.

    The Role of Your Attorney:

    Attorneys can’t guarantee you a visa. An attorney will perform several key functions:

    1. The attorney will inform you of as many immigration options as possible. The more skills, qualifications, US family connections and resources, the more options will be available to you.
    2. The attorney will discuss with you these options and help you narrow down which option will be best for you to pursue.
    3. The attorney may, as some kind of pre-qualification measure, spend time reviewing all your preliminary paperwork before making a recommendation as to whether or not to pursue a particular course of action. Typically, this will arise in more complicated matters such as business related visas.
    4. The attorney will prepare all the legal application forms and work with you in making sure you that you have as much supporting documents as possible to go with your application forms.
    5. Based on their particular experience, the attorney will do their best to make sure that when your case is presented for adjudication it looks as professional as possible.
    6. The attorney will work with the government immigration office deciding your case to ensure that any further information requested is professionally dealt with.

    Even if the attorney does all of the above very well, the actual decision as to whether or not you will be granted a visa will rest with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), and them alone.

    You may read marketing blurb where law firms and various independent immigration agencies talk about guaranteeing their clients a visa. This cannot be true. When you read the small print what they are actually saying is that if they are unsuccessful in your application then you may get some of your money back. In the small print these schemes are packed with exclusions, conditions and waivers and you may even find yourself paying substantially higher fees for the limited guarantee service.

    In a nutshell visa applicants who hire attorneys do not buy themselves success, they buy themselves a professional who will fight their clients corner to the best of their trained legal ability with no guarantee of success.

    The Immigration Officer / Adjudicator:First of all, the immigration officer is not on your side, as he or she works for the US government. You mean absolutely nothing to them, your just another potential terrorist, deviant or other threat to the US way of life. Remember, most of the men who high – jacked and flew planes into the twin towers and the Pentagon had immigration visas. In fact, some of them went to flight school in Florida. Some of the terrorists had overstayed their student visas and fell out of the system. As a result, USCIS (previously called the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS)) bore a lot of the blame for the tragic events of September 11th 2001. Recently, a Brit by the name of Richard Reid was caught trying to ignite a bomb in his shoes while on a flight to America. As a result Brits are now viewed as potential terrorists too.

    It is also true say that ten immigration officers looking at the same ten applications independently will, in all probability, not all make the same decisions on each case. One adjudicator may deny your case whereas another one may grant it. There is always an element of luck to these matters. Immigration officers will all hopefully have a thorough understanding of the rules and laws governing immigration. However, these rules are inevitably going to be interpreted slightly differently by each officer as they decide how to apply these rules to various bits and pieces of information in your visa application and supporting documentation. Sometimes visas will be denied that should not have been denied and some will granted when they should have been denied. When a visa application is denied there is usually a clear reason for denial. However, both the client and the attorney may appeal the decision. First, you have to consider whether the reason given was fair or accurate. If it is felt that the reason given was unreasonable then the applicant or the attorney on the applicant’s behalf may appeal the decision. The appeal is well drafted and well founded then the initial decision can be overturned and the visa granted. Therefore, firstly be prepared for a possible denial of your visa application, as nothing is guaranteed. Secondly, be prepared to appeal the decision if you feel the decision was wrong according to the reasons given.

    Sometimes you can re-submit a fresh application if there was some fundamental weakness in the case that was not known to either the applicant or the client. This can result in a favorable decision second time around.

    The important lesson to be drawn from this is to appreciate that applying for an immigration visa whether it be for a short term or long term visa, there will be many elements at play and it’s certainly not a straightforward process. Immigration is a very serious business. USCIS is increasingly becoming aware of the potential catastrophic consequences that can occur when they get it wrong.

    Immigration Case Studies

    In this chapter I’m going to review a series of case studies that will give you some ideas as to the type of visas you might qualify for. However, the right way to obtain legal advice based on your unique set of circumstances is to hire an attorney for your personal immigration consultation. Yo u can do this by going to www.breakthroughusa.com click on the online consultation button and go from there.

    These fictionalized case studies are just examples of the various ways people can and do make their American Dream come true. Read them all even if you don’t quite fit a particular profile as lessons can be drawn from each case study as to the techniques they used to get through the process.

    1. The Graduate
    2. The Manager
    3. The Skilled Worker vs. The Semi-Skilled Worker

    The Graduate: Mike Smith is thirty years old, married with two kids. Since obtaining his degree part-time through the Open University he held a number of jobs in IT but never really found settlement. Mike loves to holiday in Florida and over the years has made quite a few friends there. The houses in and around the Orlando area are fantastic and Mike discovered that if he sold his house in Sussex, England, he would not only be able to have enough money to put down a good deposit on a house in Orlando, but he would have plenty of spare cash too. Mike found that there were many IT companies and banks Orlando and started to make some enquiries about what positions might be available. Because Mike was on holiday with his wife Sally, he could not really devote much time to developing his enquires so he decided to make a special trip in a few months to spend a couple of weeks to really check things out. Later that year Mike began to plan out his visit. He first of all researched as many local newspapers as he could find within a commutable distance from Orlando. Mike then did some research to find specialist magazines to see if they advertised for job openings. When he got the magazine he not only found some classified job openings, but also found quite a few companies advertising their particular products and services. After a few weeks of gathering all this research together, Mike started researching local employment agencies around Orlando and beyond. Using a large map of Florida Mike began working out where all the companies he had been looking at were physically located; where all the employment agencies were and figured out which hotel would be closest to the center of everything. Mike decided that rather than make phone calls and send emails he would spend his time in Florida just visiting each location as if he were a sales representative. Basically, Mikes approach would be to turn up and say that he was just in the area and was wondering if there were any jobs in IT, and who was the person in charge of Human Resources. If Mike was lucky he might be able to get an interview, or, at the very least, a name and perhaps he could then call that person directly saying that he’d actually been to the business.Mike also decided that he would visit the local Chamber of Commerce and find out what he could there too.

    After several months of planning Mike went to Orlando on a mission. He managed to get a month off work, although two of the weeks would be without pay. After a week of driving around and registering at various employment agencies and visiting various businesses he actually managed to get himself an interview lined up for the next week. By the end of the third week Mike had been to thirty businesses and eight employment agencies. It was certainly no holiday. During this time Mike had lined up four interviews, and two of the interviews seemed to go quite well. Just as Mike was preparing to return to Sussex, he got a call for a second interview with the first company that had interviewed him and was offered a job. Mike’s manager said that he would need to give his existing company a months notice. Mike also contacted his immigration attorney with the contact details of the hiring firm. Mike flew back home very excited indeed.

    Because Mike had done an immigration consultation the year before and had maintained a close relationship with his immigration attorney, Mike knew what his immigration options were and how to pursue it. It’s fair to say that not all trips are as successful as Mike’s. For some people it takes longer, perhaps over two or three trips, but success is assured if you don’t give up.

    The Manager:

    Emily joined ABC Mortgage Corporation in London right from leaving school at 16. Although she left with some good grades at school, when she started work she had no higher education or office skills. The company trained her well and encouraged her over the years to do various part-time diplomas and various other short courses. After being with ABC for 15 years, she was 31 and was the manager of one of the lending departments. Emily had always had dreams of working abroad and had traveled to America a number of times. One day she decided to find out what she would need in terms of qualifications to actually land a job in an American company. After surfing the Internet she came across Breakthrough USA and completed the online consultation. One of the recommendations that came out of the consultation report was that she needed to have all of her skills, training and education, professionally and independently evaluated as this would determine which visa she might qualify for. Emily was required to collect all of her school certificates, certificates from all the courses she attended both inside and outside work. Also, Emily had to get a job description from the Human Resources department of her current job and all previous positions held during her 15 years with ABC. Gathering all of this information together took some two months. Eventually, Emily’s credential evaluation was completed and they determined that her combined experience and qualifications earned over the 15 years together with the senior position she now held, meant that she had the equivalent of someone with a University Bachelors of Arts Degree and should therefore qualify for a graduate level visa if she found the right graduate level job in America.

    Armed and excited with this information Emily contacted a number of Banks and Finance companies and was eventually offered a job with XYZ Company in New York. Emily’s immigration attorney worked closely with XYZ and within six weeks Emily was working in New York and happy indeed.

    The Skilled Worker:

    Philip had started as an apprentice machine operator for a major coffee making company in Scotland. Over the years Philip found that whenever there was a problem with one of the machines he was always the one called to fix it. Even though there were other more senior machine operators around they tended to rely on him. Philip even found himself being called in from home to sort out machines that had broken down. You could say that Philip just had the knack for problem solving. The senior managers eventually noticed Philip’s special abilities and he got invited to attend regular courses on maintenance of plant machinery, and in particular the Heldleberg X9000. This machine was the leading machine used in the coffee industry, and only highly trained engineers were qualified to maintain these machines. These machines cost millions. As Philip’s expertise and experience grew he worked his way up to become the head maintenance engineer for the company and was very well paid. At one of Philip’s routine training courses, during a break Philip got chatting with John, one of the presenters. John happened to know that California Blend coffee company were having problems finding someone in California to maintain their Heldleberg X9000. Due to the difficulties John had been flown in several times to help them out. They exchanged business cards, and John encouraged Philip to think about it. Philip kept thinking about what John had told him. Philip had never thought about relocating to the US let alone California. After giving it all a lot of thought, Philip talked to his wife Margaret and she encouraged him to go for it. With Philip’s track record and California Blend’s need for a well-qualified engineer, Philip was offered the job. What would be required was to sort out the immigration paperwork. The first task was to show that the position on offer was that of a skilled engineer. The immigration attorney on this case was able to show that this was indeed a skilled position by instructing an independent credential evaluator to review all the skills Philip had acquired, and then compare them to engineering jobs in the market place. The report would conclude that only a graduate engineer or someone with considerable expertise, engineering and skill would be able to take that position.

    This was also demonstrated from a review of California Blends recent placement of advertisements in the local papers looking for a Heldleberg expert.

    Commentary:

    There are many highly skilled individuals out there. If you are a seasoned skilled worker with many years of expertise then it might be worth your while to get an independent credential evaluation to see how your skills are rated in US qualification terms. It may be that you do indeed have graduate level skills or it may be that you fall just short. If you fall just short then maybe taking a few more courses would get you there. You don’t know for sure until you take steps to find out. You can start that process by going to our website at www.breakthroughusa.com and selecting the credential evaluation button.

    The Semi-Skilled Worker:David had been a plumber for many years and was quite simply bored. He needed a challenge and he just was not getting that anymore. Because David worked a lot outside on building sites he was getting fed up with the British weather and he noticed that he was starting to develop some mild arthritis in his knees. David felt that unless he did something soon his days in this trade would be numbered. David decided to have a look around Florida as he had heard about job opportunities out there in the building trade. When David arrived in Florida he found that there was a chronic shortage of qualified plumbers. Employers on each of the sites he visited told him how hard it was to find well-qualified staff, not just in plumbing but in carpentry and electrical engineering too. David decided to find out what courses he would have to take to learn the local regulations in plumbing and heating systems. The local Chamber of Commerce gave him a list of courses and all of them only lasted a few months. However, in order to be actually certified to work in that field he’d have to pass an exam. There was a well-known British pub in the area where he was staying and each night he would hang out there to socialize. David met Rob, a British plumber. Rob had been in David’s position a few years earlier. Rob told David that the course was very good and the exam was not a big deal and he encouraged David to go for it. Since David only planned to be in Florida a couple weeks on this trip he got all the information he needed and planned to come back to Florida as soon as he had worked everything out. Later that year David not only came back to take the course but passed it with flying colors. David had no problem finding an employer who would be willing to hire him. After contacting an immigration attorney, David was told that because plumbing was not considered to be highly skilled, he would not qualify for a visa easily. David’s employer would need to work with the attorney to employ David on the basis that there was a genuine labor deficit. David’s prospective employer, Todd, said this would not be a problem as he really needed the help and did not mind waiting a few weeks while everything was sorted out.

    Todd had placed advertisements recently and had records of the responses he had had. After a few weeks of back and forth between the employer and the attorney, David was able to obtain a visa that would give him the opportunity to work for Todd for one year. If there was still a shortfall after that time Todd could sponsor David for a second year.

    David’s attorney advised him that it would probably be better in the long run to set up his own independent contracting firm and that providing his firm would be able to hire local plumbing and heating engineers, then David might be able to obtain a business visa tha t would grant him an indefinite ability to stay in the US. David was not sure whether or not he wanted to stay in the plumbing business anyway, so asked his attorney if he could start any other business. The answer was yes. Now David plans to continue to work with his immigration attorney to help him set up another British pub close to a beach, as that sounded like an American Dream to him.

    Commentary :

    For semi-skilled workers it’s very hard to find a visa that will enable this type of person to stay in the US longer than a year at a time and although the maximum time one can get is three years, it can be difficult to get immigration to grant them. For more information on what licenses plumbers, carpenters and electricians are required to have please contact the relocation office at relocation@breakthroughusa.com.