There is an old saying among attorneys, "anyone can win the easy cases, it's winning the hard cases that counts." Many of my clients have difficult cases, which involve violations of the immigration statutes or regulations. Often these clients were told at their adjustment of status interviews by the Immigration Officer that they required a “601” waiver. Recently in the past two weeks our office received two approvals after I submitted waivers on our clients' behalf.
Key 1: "Write to Win"
All too often attorneys assume that I-601 waivers will be lost before USCIS but can still be won before an immigration judge, after a client is placed in proceedings. My goal in writing I-601 waivers is to win in front of USCIS. The quality of the writing in this brief will be the same level as a written brief for an immigration judge, and will if necessary provide the basis for later pleadings. Saving the client the pain and hardship of defending themselves in Immigration Court should be paramount in the mind of the attorney.
Key2: Cite to The Correct Statute Supporting the Waiver
It is important to note that a "601" waiver refers to the USCIS form I-601. The form must be used when a client is seeking relief from any number of issues for example a past crime, misrepresentation to officers or use of false documents. Different statutes and laws provide relief for these issues, which may cause the client to be “inadmissible” or even “removable”. Many clients and even some attorneys do not look to the statute that grants relief and simply fill out and submit I-601 forms without referring to the form of relief required to excuse the client's past conduct.
Key 3: Use Detail and Supporting Affidavits and Documents
I-601 waivers must be detailed, and in most cases require a statement of hardship to the client, qualifying United States Citizen or Legal Permanent Resident relatives. I-601 waivers must also have numerous supporting documents which demonstrate the different points applicant is trying to make to USCIS. On more than one occasion we have had to re-file and adjustment of status application so that we can provide a more detailed and effective I-601 waiver to the immigration officer. It has been my experience, at the interview, that officer's have thanked me for providing them with the information and arguments they need to justify approval of the I-601 to their supervising officers.
Key 4: Research the Issues
USCIS recently approved a case for one of my clients who was the victim of “notario” fraud. The client had sought help with his case from an individual “Sonny Tabula” who was sentenced and convicted in Federal District Court for making false claims in visa applications from 2001 to 2003. In October of 2005, he was convicted and sentenced to 15 months in Federal Prison and fined $40,000 for convictions on five counts of violating federal laws in connection with filing visa applications. (See Criminal Case No. SACR 04-00240-JVS) By going on-line, obtaining copies of the Judgment against the Notario, and published accounts of his past conduct, we can help the immigration officer understand how our client was not responsible for false documents filed on his behalf.
Key 5: Whether the I-601 Waiver is Needed
Every attorney or applicant submitting an I-601 waiver should consider whether it is really required. In some cases including the Sonny Tabula cases, if there was no actual marriage, and the client was unaware of a false certificate being filed, there is no basis for a charge of marriage fraud or misrepresentation. Stating this at the beginning of a pleading often forces the officer to consider whether requiring the I-601 waiver was fair to begin with, and may make him or her more open to approval of the case.
The bottom line is you need to put your future in the hands of a skilled attorney who is “writing to win” and not going through the motions in filing your I-601 waiver. It is important to work with your attorney, provide him with sworn declarations and background documents he needs so that he can submit an effective waiver that has a chance of winning before USCIS.
Robert J. DuPont is the founding attorney for The Law Offices of Robert J. DuPont. Mr. DuPont graduated from Yale University and USC Law School. He is admitted to the California Supreme Court, Federal District Courts in the Central and Northern Districts of California, as well as the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Mr. DuPont has been a speaker at ILW, a leading immigration law publisher. He was the founder of the Immigration Law Committee with the Beverly Hills Bar Association. Mr. DuPont has risen to prominence with over a decade’s practice in the field of immigration law. He has brought cases to their successful conclusion before the EOIR, BIA, AAO, Federal District Court and 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
A similar version of this article may have been published in the Asian Journal.