• What other services do you provide?

    For a complete list of services we provide, see our other sites at http://www.bridgewest.com/ and http://www.e-b-5.com.
  • How long does it take to resolve a visa problem?

    The overwhelming majority of legitimate visa problems can be resolved quickly, usually, from one week to 2 months.
  • Besides the consultation fee, what other expenses will I incur?

    Often, we are able to give a client the tools needed to resolve the issue on his/her own and no further representation is needed. If further representation is required, then a fee will be quoted based on the individual circumstances of the case. We are not interested in just collecting a fee: our fee arrangements reflect this by backloading the fees to be paid based on result.
  • Other lawyers do not charge for an initial consultation. Why does your firm?

    You do not need a lawyer to tell you that one usually gets what he pays for. We are one of the few firms that have extensive experience in dealing with visa issues on an everyday basis. That experience has been with some of the most notoriously difficult embassies and consulates in the world, including London, Rio de Janeiro, New Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad, Mexico City, Guangzhou, Lagos, Islamabad, Yerevan, and Accra. The payment of a consultation fee also reflects a client commitment that he or she is serious about preparing for an interview or overcoming a visa denial. Finally, lawyers who give free consultations may be more interested in signing a client up for legal services — they cannot live on free consultations — so their advice can be biased and geared toward making that final sale. Because we are paid for the consultation, we are able to give objective advice — advice in your interest, not the lawyer’s interest.
  • With whom won’t you work?

    We will not work with someone we know or have reason to know is not entitled to the visa benefit for which they are applying. For example, if a US citizen seeks to bring to the US his fiancée on a visitors visa with the intent to marry her upon arrival and adjust her status, we will decline to assist. For women seeking to obtain a visitors visa under false pretenses in order to give birth in the US, we will also not provide advice or representation services.
  • Am I responsible for a mistake made or for documents supplied by my travel agent?

    Yes, you are. If your travel agent or visa consultant made an error in completing the application, you are answerable for that mistake. For example, if the consultant innocently misinterpreted a question on the visa application about past convictions as not encompassing convictions that have been expunged, this can still lead a consul to decide that the applicant made a misrepresentation. Sometimes, the consultant will give an applicant a fake marriage certificate, employment letter or bank statements. By presenting such documents to the consular officer, the applicant is assumed to know that the contents are false. Even if you are an innocent victim — for example, you did not review the contents of the DS-160 application form — the consul will usually impute knowledge. We have seen many innocent victims of incompetent or dishonest travel agents and visa consultants over the years and it is difficult to overcome these decisions.
  • What if the consular decision was correct? How to apply for a waiver?

    There are alternatives. If the applicant is applying for a nonimmigrant visa and overcomes 214(b) (or it is not applicable), he/she can apply for a nonimmigrant waiver. The process is two-fold: 1) to obtain a positive recommendation of the consular officer or the Visa Office; and 2) the approval of the Department of Homeland Security. In the overwhelming majority of cases, if the consular officer recommends approval, then DHS will approve the waiver. In making this determination, several factors are considered, such as the seriousness of the violation of the law (e.g., unlawful presence may be considered less grave than a conviction for a serious crime), the recency of the transgression, and public interest and safety. Different posts apply these criteria differently. However, once a nonimmigrant waiver has been secured and the applicant has traveled to the US and returned timely, future applications for a nonimmigrant waiver should be approved without difficulty.

    For family-based immigrants and fiancées, it is necessary to apply for an immigrant waiver. This application is submitted to USCIS. Granting of the immigrant waiver is usually contingent on the American citizen spouse or fiancé showing “extreme hardship”. Extreme hardship is also a very complicated term, and interpreted inconsistently by USCIS.

    Because of the complicated nature of the waiver application — our submissions include a detailed legal memorandum and 20–60 appendices — and the magnitude of the consequences, they generally should not be undertaken without the assistance of an immigration attorney.
  • Whom have you helped?

    Our clientele has included spouses, fiancées and parents of American citizens wishing to immigrate to the US; businessmen traveling to the United States for negotiations, employment, investment purposes, and training; students seeking to study in the US; individuals seeking to temporarily visit the US for tourism or medical purposes; grandmothers planning to visit their children and grandchildren in the US; winners of the Diversity Lottery; entrepreneurs starting companies in the US; scientists; doctors, mathematicians, artists, composers, writers, and engineers immigrating; investors making investments of at least $500,000 in various enterprises; and refugees and their families. Our clientele has included citizens of Russia, India, China, Brazil, the UK, Germany, Mexico, Nigeria, Vietnam, Israel, Pakistan, Kenya, Philippines, Singapore, Uzbekistan, Spain, Italy, Hong Kong, Turkey, Egypt, Malaysia, Canada, France, Japan, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Thailand, South Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Switzerland, Norway, Ireland, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal, Belarus, Armenia, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Colombia, Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova, Poland, Mongolia, Cyprus, Malta, Cameroon, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Lebanon, Indonesia, Argentina, South Korea, New Zealand, Serbia, Gambia, Grenada, Syria, Iraq, El Salvador, Djibouti, Somalia, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Oman, Nepal, Namibia, Bangladesh, Benin, Hungary, Venezuela, United Arab Emirates, Peru, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Trinidad and Tobago, Bahamas, Cambodia, and Afghanistan.
  • What is a crime of moral turpitude?

    In addition to medical, security, and other grounds of inadmissibility, a visa applicant may be found to be permanently inadmissible if he or she has admitted to the commission of or has been convicted of a crime of moral turpitude. A crime of moral turpitude is one that usually involves fraud, larceny, or an intent to harm persons or things. There is an exception for a conviction for a “petty offense”. The definition of  “moral turpitude” can be very complex and fraught with ambiguities. For example, a consular officer erroneously found the spouse of an American citizen to be permanently inadmissible to the United States because of her conviction for unlawful use of a state identification card. The Visa Office, which has oversight of consular officers on all legal issues, overturned this decision. This is another reason not to defer to consular officers, particularly in complicated areas of law.
  • What is 212(a)(6)(C)(i)?

    This section of the Immigration and Nationality Act is a consular finding of a willful, material misrepresentation or fraud. Unlike 214(b), it is a decision to find the applicant inadmissible to the United States — permanently. More than 10,000 visa applicants are permanently barred from the US annually based on this provision. The interpretation of this provision of the Act is very complex, particularly the meaning of  “material”, and is another area rife with consular mistakes and errors — with draconian consequences. These consular decisions are supposed to be given “close scrutiny”, but sometimes they are not. Most disturbing, these decisions may be based on an alleged visa application misrepresentation from many, many years ago — even after the issuance of visas.
  • Besides a waiver, what other options are there?

    Humanitarian parole is a “last chance” to gain entry to the US for those individuals who are not otherwise eligible for a visa. It is prescribed by DHS on a case-by-case basis, usually for medical reasons or to prevent the separation of minor children from green-card holding parents. For example, we have successfully filed humanitarian parole applications for parents who won the Green Card Lottery and successfully adjusted status in the US, but their children, who were located abroad, did not receive immigrant visas before the September 30 deadline.
  • What if a consular officer will not make a decision on a visa application, holding it in abeyance under 221(g) for a long time?

    A consular officer does not have the right to withhold a decision on a visa application. The officer and his/her colleagues in the Department of State, FBI, and DHS do not have the right to “sit on” an application using Section 221(g) of the INA: an application must be approved or denied. If a decision has not been made in more than a year, the litigation option, in the form of a writ of mandamus, should be pursued to compel a decision. While there have been less than five reported mandamus consular cases, we are proud to have successfully secured a writ of mandamus on behalf of a client from a district court compelling an Embassy to make a visa decision. In addition, the mere filing of such a lawsuit may prompt a decision.
  • What is 221(g)?

    Section 221(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act is the provision of law that enables the consular officer to put a visa application on hold until the applicant provides requested documentation or the consular officer resolves an issue requiring further investigation, such as a security check. If the consular officer requires additional documentation, she will give to the applicant a form and indicate the exact documentation to be provided, for example, a tax return of a sponsor or an affidavit of support. It is not unusual for the consular officer to erroneously require documentation that is not in fact required or impose additional, arbitrary prerequisites to issuance of the visa; for example, mandating that the applicant find a co-sponsor because she believes that the sponsor is not financially viable. Section 221(g) security checks — “administrative processing”, as it is euphemistically called by the Department of State — may also be erroneously initiated and can take several months. For example, an officer may believe that an applicant’s occupation falls within the Technology Alert List, but it does not. 221(g) is of course problematic for those who must travel to the US by specific dates (e.g., job, conferences), or for those who have won the DV Lottery and must receive visas by September 30. For these Lottery winners, any delay can be fatal. Because delays and/or failure to comply with the requests of the officer can have grave consequences, it is necessary to be proactive: to challenge unwarranted demands for additional documentation or the grounds for initiating an investigation or background check.
  • What is 214(b)?

    Section 214(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act is the provision of law that the overwhelming majority of nonimmigrant visa applicants are denied under. On average, more than 2.5 million visa applications are refused annually under this section. This denial, in general, means either 1) the visa applicant does not have strong ties to his home country and did not prove to the satisfaction of the consular officer that he/she will return in a timely fashion; or 2) the visa applicant did not prove his eligibility for the visa. 214(b) is, in essence, the catch-all provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act granting the consular officer the authority to deny a nonimmigrant visa application. Consular officers have great discretion to deny a visa under this provision. However, as noted above, it is necessary to identify the rationale underlying the decision in order to challenge or overcome the denial. Errors due to misunderstanding or a lack of information are relatively common.
  • With which consulates are you able to represent clients?

    We represent clients from around the world, regardless of the location of the consulate. To date, we have represented clients at more than 40 embassies and consulates.
  • What rights do visa applicants have?

    Visa applicants are entitled to a “reasonable opportunity” to present evidence and convince a consular officer that he or she is entitled to a visa. In the event of a denial, the consular officer must disclose the legal and factual basis for the denial. Boilerplate denials and standard refusal letters indicate the provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act the applicant was denied under, but often follow-up with the consulate is required to determine the factual reason, i.e., what was it about the applicant’s individual circumstances led the officer to make the legal decision? Visa applicants have the right to apply again to present new evidence or have another officer take a fresh look at the application.