The Immigration Problem
When Mr. I, a conditional permanent resident under the EB-5 visa program, submitted the Form I-829 petition for removal of conditions, the USCIS issued an extensive Request For Evidence requesting several documents that only they had copies of!
VisaPro helped Mr. I file a complete RFE response, building a case for him. The petition was approved and the conditions were removed from the permanent residence status for Mr. I and his family, and Mr. I now has an unrestricted green card.
Inquiry Into The Background
Mr. I is the typical American business success story, with an immigration twist. He came to the US to go to college. After completing his MBA Mr. I sought out a business opportunity in the US that would allow him to apply for an E-2 visa as a treaty investor. In 1995 he found an old manufacturing company in the South that had recently gone out of business. The property and equipment were in reasonable shape, although in need of some repair. He put together an offer that was accepted and took over the business. He was also granted an E-2 treaty investor visa based on his new investment.
He hired a new crew (several of whom had worked for the plant in the past) and spent the first few months just cleaning up the property and getting everything back in working order. As soon as he had everything in shape he began rebuilding the customer base and building the business. Things went well and the business was so prosperous that Mr. I had to increase the production staff to 15 – 20 people.
Mr. I continued to renew his E-2 visa every year as the business flourished. In the late 1990s Mr. I talked with his immigration counsel and determined that he could seek permanent residence as an alien entrepreneur based on his current business. Working with counsel he filed the Form I-526 in August 1997 and was granted conditional permanent resident status in 2000 under EB-5 program. 2002 rolled around and it was time to file the petition to remove conditions on green card. The initial Form I-829 was submitted to the Texas Service Center in December 2002, and the wait was on. There was no word from the Texas Service Center for over a year.
During this time Mr. I became disillusioned with his current immigration counsel and came to VisaPro for advice. In early 2004, when he received an extensive Request For Evidence, he came to us for assistance in filing the response.
Analysis Of The Problem
When VisaPro reviewed the RFE and spoke with Mr. I, we realized that the USCIS was requesting several documents that only they had copies of. At the time of the initial interview on the Form I-526 the immigration officer did not have a copy of the file with the supporting documents. Mr. I’s attorney did bring his copy of the filing to the interview, so the officer used Mr. I’s copy. Unfortunately he kept the copy and did not return it to Mr. I.
VisaPro’s Successful Solution
VisaPro’s approach to the RFE was multi-faceted.
- First, we filed a FOIA request to get a copy of the initial Form I-526 filing from 1997. While waiting for a response we gathered the rest of the documentation requested.
- We never received a response to the FOIA request and were not able to get the copies of the documents that were being requested. Consequently, we went back and forth with the Immigration Officer from the Texas Service Center for the next 2 years receiving additional time to file the response for Mr. I and building a case for him. In our discussions with the officer on several occasions during that 2 year period we were advised that he wanted to approve the case but needed the right documentation.
- In the summer of 2006 we had been able to gather enough old records and information to finally file a complete response to RFE. Shortly after filing the response we got another call from the officer handling the case thanking us for the thoroughness of the response. We thought at that time that we should be getting an answer soon. This was not to be.
- After another year of waiting Mr. I began getting nervous and starting reviewing all his possible options with us – including reverting back to an E-2 visa, seeking permanent residence through another employer, and the DV lottery system. We advised him to not make any moves until there was a decision on the I-829.
It took another year plus before the USCIS finally made a decision on Mr. I’s Form I-829, but in June 2008 the petition was approved and the conditions were removed from the permanent resident status for Mr. I and his family.
The moral of the story is that if you are patient, take the time to develop a strategy and a great case package, and work with the USCIS officers reviewing your case, especially with difficult cases, you will eventually (in this case 5 ½ years) get a decision, and in most cases that decision will be favorable. We could have been pushy (and there are times when you need to be) and filed suit to force the USCIS to make a decision on the case, but we felt that would be counter to the relationship we had built on this particular case.
It was a long process but Mr. I now has an unrestricted green card, and since all the time waiting for the decision counts towards naturalization, he is eligible to apply for naturalization.
If you have a complicated case VisaPro experienced immigration lawyers can help you with the process. Contact VisaPro Immigration Attorneys to review your situation and discuss your options.
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