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JAN. 6, 2018
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Ten Most Common Errors in Filing Immigration Petitions

by Atty. Emmanuel S. TIPON

The USCIS should print at the beginning of each immigration form a checklist that must be complied with by petitioners to avoid the petition being rejected, returned, or the petitioner being asked to submit additional evidence. Here are the most common errors in filing immigration petitions.

  1. Failure to sign the form. The Petitioner or preparer should place a tab or sticker “Sign Here” next to the line for signature.
  2. Failure to remit to USCIS the filing fee or to remit the correct filing fee. Some petitions (such as Form I-90, Form I-131, and Form N-400) require a biometrics service fee, which must be added to the basic filing fee.
  3. Failure to respond to every question or fill up every item. If the question is not applicable to petitioner or beneficiary, the petitioner should write “Not Applicable” or “N/A”. If the question calls for a specific answer like a number (How many times has the beneficiary been married?), the correct response is a number, like 1, 2, etc. Do not write “N/A”). If the space is insufficient for an answer, attach a sheet of paper and write on the top the Form No. ___ ; Name of Petitioner; Page Number. Part Number, and Item number to which the answer refers. 
  4. Failure to submit required evidence and supporting documents to establish eligibility for the petition. The Instructions for each form specifies such evidence and supporting documents that are required. However, the list may not be complete.
  5. Failure to submit all required USCIS forms to accompany the principal form. For instance, in a Petition for Alien Relative, the petitioner must file Form I-131. In addition, petitioner must file Form I-130A, Supplemental Information for Spouse Beneficiary; and two G-325 Biographic Information forms, one for petitioner and one for the beneficiary.
  6. Failure to determine whether the petitioner or the beneficiary is eligible for the benefit sought. For example, a lawful permanent resident or green card holder is not eligible to file a petition for an alien parent.
  7. Failure to read or follow all the instructions for the particular form.
  8. Failure to understand the question. For instance, there was a Filipino who answered “Yes” to the question in an Application for Naturalization:  “Have you EVER claimed to be a U.S. citizen (in writing or any other way)? His Application was denied. He claimed that he thought the question was asking him whether he wants to claim to be a U.S. citizen.
  9. Making false statements or misrepresentations in the application form. For instance, a woman misstated her age in an Application for Adjustment of Status by claiming she was born in 1970 but USCIS found her birth certificate showing she was actually born in 1964. She was placed in removal proceedings. Her first lawyer asked for a fraud waiver, which in effect admitted that she committed fraud. The IJ denied the waiver request and ordered her deported. On appeal, her new counsel argued that the misstatement was immaterial because whether she was born in 1970 or 1964, she was more than 18 years old when she married her husband in 1998 and therefore was eligible to marry him. The new lawyer also charged the first lawyer as ineffective for admitting fraud. The case is pending appeal.
  10. Failure to carefully read the Form and the response to every question or item, but simply relying on the preparer to answer every question correctly. For instance there was a petitioner who relied on a nonlawyer preparer to fill up her petition for her son. The preparer put an X before the box “Single, Never married.” The petition was approved. When the beneficiary was interviewed at the U.S. Consulate, he said that he was married and presented his marriage certificate so that his wife could travel with him. The consul asked him why his petition stated that he was “Single, Never married.” He asked his petitioner mother who wrote to the U.S. Consulate that she had told the preparer that his son was married and that she did not know why the preparer put X before the box “Single, Never married.” She said she did not read the petition before signing it. The consul denied the visa application for fraud or misrepresentation, saying the petitioner was bound by what was written on the petition, whether the petitioner read it or not.

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ATTY. TIPON has a Master of Laws degree from Yale Law School where he specialized in Constitutional Law. He has also a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of the Philippines. He placed third in the Philippine Bar Examination in 1956. His current practice focuses on immigration law and criminal defense. He writes law books for the world’s largest law book publishing company and writes legal articles for newspapers. He has a radio show in Honolulu, Hawaii with his son Noel, senior partner of the Bilecki & Tipon law firm, where they discuss legal and political issues. Office: American Savings Bank Tower, 1001 Bishop Street, Suite 2305, Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.A. 96813. Tel. (808) 225-2645. E-Mail: filamlaw@yahoo.com. Website: www.bileckilawgroup.com. He was born in Laoag City, Philippines. He served as a U.S. Immigration Officer. He is co-author with former Judge Artemio S. Tipon of the best-seller “Winning by Knowing Your Election Laws” and co-author of “Immigration Law Service, 1st ed.,” an 8-volume practice guide for immigration officers and lawyers. Atty. Tipon has personally experienced the entire immigration cycle by entering the United States on a non-immigrant working visa to write law books, adjusting his status to that of a lawful permanent resident, and becoming a naturalized United States citizen

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