(Part 2 in a Series)
"Caveat Emptor," let the buyer beware! This vintage Latin phrase also applies to you the reader, so be on guard when you read amazing claims by attorneys that advertise. If an attorney claims to have written hundreds of briefs, be sure you ask him or her if the briefs were in any way related to immigration. Also check an attorney's history of discipline with the California State Bar. Amazingly, some immigration service providers advertise the services of a disbarred attorney.
One thing that advertising does not reveal is the experience and relationships with government officers and attorneys that develop through the practice of law. Some of the biggest advertising firms have terrible relationships with the Service and some are on watch lists for a history of filing cases for unqualified applicants.
Our formula for success depends on providing the best service to clients and maintaining relationships based on integrity with the Immigration service. This explains why our reputation with the government is second to none. This reputation couples civility with respect for our ability to stand up for our clients and if need be go to the ultimate authority, the Federal Courts.
When I ran the federal litigation department at Reeves & Associates, I handled all federal litigation cases personally. As a result, I developed relationships with USCIS legal counsel, USCIS officers and their supervisors and several U.S. Attorneys. Now that I am at Wilner & O'Reilly, given the principles and values of our firm, these relationships are flourishing.
With my experience, the experience of Kelly O'Reilly (a former INS Officer) and Richard Wilner (Certified Specialist in Immigration Law) the government knows who we are. More importantly, they like dealing with us.
Good relationships with U.S. attorneys and USCIS were essential when I obtained relief for 12 clients who filed requests to re-classify their immigrant visa category. These immigrants were petitioned by legal permanent resident parents who later naturalized. Their children then had their visa category changed from "F2B" to "F1" which for Filipino immigrants creates, at minimum, a ten-year delay in obtaining a current visa number for processing.
In suing the Department of State and USCIS, I named embassy officials from the Manila Embassy, the Manama Embassy in Bahrain and the London Embassy and demanded that these embassy officials and USCIS employees comply with the statute.
After some important rulings on the case in federal court, the Department of State agreed to comply with the law and allow these individuals to enter the United States as legal permanent residents. This case settled in part because of relationships of trust and respect with the U.S. Attorneys office.
In a separate but related case I persuaded the Immigration Service to re-classify an immigrant who originally filed their petition as F2A son or daughters of legal permanent residents under the age of 21. Here again the Department of State attempted to re-write the law. However upon obtaining a court ordered denial of their Motion to Dismiss the Department of State agreed not to use this reasoning to deny my client entry to the United States.
Remarkably, some government officers continue to refuse to honor reclassification requests or not give the request(s) the attention it deserves. Only continued vigilance based upon a knowledge of the law will result in the success of your case. So, don't be fooled by the advertising hype. And, don't be afraid to demand the benefits you are entitled to. And don't be afraid to ask if your attorney has the knowledge and experience to represent you.