Immigration is an integral part of developing society. Anu Gupta speaks to us on how ‘making immigration easy’ makes America a better place to be.
What are the common reasons to why visas are rejected, and when are clients advised to file a petition against their rejection?
Employment-based visa filing is a numbers game. The majority of the H1B and L1 visas are filed by a fewer than a 100 larger firms, with the smaller companies filing less than 1000 petitions each annually. A visa for an IT professional with a Master’s degree being filed by a well-funded Fortune 100 company has an extremely small chance of being rejected. When the company is filing thousands of petitions for the same exact position, it is fairly easy to copy and paste from the first, well-drafted petition to the others without actually having to understand the underlying legal requirements. Therefore, most of these companies have economized by retaining para professionals or entry-level attorneys to file their petitions.
People don’t know but the “Immigration and Nationality Act” officially surpassed the Internal Revenue Code for length and complexity in the past few years. It is only when a President like Trump insists that each section of each statute, regulation, policy memoranda be strictly adhered to that suddenly the cut and paste petitions actually start being reviewed for legal inaccuracies. Unless the filer understands the laws well, it is hard to respond to some of the questions – which, by the way, are very valid and legitimate questions for the USCIS to ask.
At this time, a majority of my time is devoted to reviewing and responding to requests for evidence from the USCIS and filing Motions to Reopen and Appeals. Each case is different, but each case has something that can be used to get the case approved. I have had to turn very few people away. There is always something in the file, if you spend sufficient time on it, that will help you convince the USCIS that the petition has merit.
With a 95% approval on the petitions you’ve filed in the past 20 years, what would you say are three things which are key for you to consider, in order to get the best outcome for your clients?
Honesty, dedication and ethics. You have to insist that your clients are honest with you. Most cases are not lost because the case cannot be won – cases are lost when the attorney does not have sufficient time to understand the case well. The attorney has to know what the client is saying – and much more importantly – what the client has not said. Then take the time to dig deeper to flush out all the facts. You can be sure the USCIS will find out whatever your client does not want you to know, and you cannot get that case approved if the USCIS points out the hidden fact in the request for evidence (RFE) to you. At that time, your client’s credibility is already lost. If you spend the time to talk to the client in the beginning, you will know how to draft the petition and what will get it approved.
Second, the attorney must love what they do and be dedicated to winning. You have to love your clients and be fascinated by how each case is different and, at the same time, fits into the same laws. You have to want to spend whatever time is needed for into each case that you decide to take. Law should not be a business; it is a calling.
The last factor, but the most important one, is ethics. An attorney must be honest and truthful. A client once told me that he was at a consulate for a visa interview when the interviewing officer saw my name on the file and said: “I know this attorney. She does good work.” The visa was issued in less than 10 minutes. The attorney’s reputation precedes them. The same officers look at work sent in by the same group of attorneys year after year. The attorney’s reputation can sway an officer into approving a case when the facts are not all favourable.
How does ‘making immigration easy’ help the US?
We are a global economy. I don’t believe protectionism can be a long-term strategy. If everyone in the world wants to work together, and we don’t, we may just end up making ourselves irrelevant. For the past century, we are the destination nation – the Statue of Liberty being seen as a summoning beacon to the rest of the world. We have been not only a financial leader, but also the leader in thought and freedom, attracting the best and the brightest of minds, and the most hardworking of individuals from across the globe. Our immigration laws evolved over the past couple of centuries. Each immigration law that was written or changed was in reaction to an event that occurred. (For example, the Department of Homeland Security was created after 9/11). Instead of being reactionary, I believe that we should plan our futures. We do need a comprehensive overhaul of our laws to make them more aligned to what we want to be as a nation and what we want our future to be. We have always been a nation of migrations – from the Irish fleeing from the famine, to the Protestants seeking religious tolerance, to the economic migrants from Asia or the millions seeking refuge from war. We cannot change our makeup. We are a blend of all cultures and all ethnicities. It is time our laws reflect this reality.
What inspired you to specialise in immigration law? Moreover, how do you fight to oppose negative opinions towards immigration?
I was practicing general business law in Manhattan when I did my first immigrant petition and was hooked. The law itself was not tough, but there was a story there – a real person whose life changed because I could do something to help her. Since then, I’ve helped thousands of immigrants enter the US, start businesses in the US, or be allowed to work, and later on bring their families and slowly become integrated into our communities. I am constantly in awe of the strength, drive to succeed, and the honest hard work that my clients put into making America great. From the corner Chinese takeout, to the Vietnamese laundry, to the Patel motel, and the Indian programmer- this is America to me as much as eating apple pie at a Denny’s is.
There is a lot of negative attention being given to immigration at this time. I think the worst thing that happened was when the Bush administration equated “immigrant” to “criminal”. In the 80s, people still had respect for the Indian doctor and the German scientist. Statistically, as a percentage, we have more doctors and scientists who are immigrants than criminals who are immigrants. Now, day after day, headlines show mass deportations, ICE raids, and children brought to the US without their consent now being forced out of the workforce and treated like pariahs. It is all extremely distressing to most people, but it is still political—aimed at increasing the vote bank. Every day people like you and me, we don’t see colour quite so clearly. Did the Chinese takeout close down? No. Did the laundromat lose its clients? No. Meanwhile, perhaps some good might come out of all this negativity and that we might actually see reform in our immigration laws.
Why are companies often reluctant to hire immigrants? What would you advise them to ensure that their apprehensions can be dismissed?
The company will try to hire the brightest possible employee, at the cheapest possible rate, to ensure maximum profitability. Hiring immigrants at this time costs the company more – just a basic work visa for example, an H-1B, costs $2,460 in filing fees. If it is a larger employer, it may have to pay an additional $4,000. If they want the visa in 2 weeks, it is $1,225 extra on top of these fees. And this does not even include the attorney’s fee. And then there is the hassle of extra regulatory requirements imposed by the Department of Labour and the USCIS that the employer has to comply with and the “site inspections” when a federal agent happens to drop by your office unannounced to check on a visa worker – managing to freak out half the people in the office. Or worse, when the officer visits your customer’s location and manages to freak out your paying customers.
Parts of our economy are dependent on an immigrant work force for survival – the summer crew at resorts and vacation spots, the migrant farm worker during picking season, and the IT industry—to name a few. Each industry would hire locally if they could at times like these but labour shortages in these areas are extreme. My short-term suggestion would be to ensure that companies hire good attorneys who will guide them on the rules, help them plan their workforce needs, and make sure that companies invest time and money to conduct internal audits to ensure that their paperwork is complete and up to date. And most importantly, remember that life is like a wheel. Tough times change for the better. Well run businesses endure… (and administrations only last four years – at most, eight).
Anu Gupta is the Founder and Managing Attorney of Immigration Desk, Inc., a full-service immigration law firm dedicated to making US immigration easy. The smiles on our clients faces and their heartwarming testimonials are the true measure of our success. If we can help make the process easier for you as well, it would be our pleasure. Please consult with us, by emailing Info@ImmigrationDesk.com or telephoning 800-688-7892. You can also reach us by submitting your questions through “Avvo”.