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USCIS to roll back self-scheduled “InfoPass” appointments

USCIS Announced today that it will end the availability of self scheduled appointments at its field offices. The InfoPass System currently being used for people to sell schedule an appointment in order to check on case status, ask questions about their case, or receive an extension of certain types of…

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USCIS updates policy on medical exams (Form I-639)

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced yesterday that it is changing its rules on the validity period for medical exams. The new guidelines take effect almost immediately on November 1, 2018. The announcement changes how long a medical exam - completed on the Form I-639 - is considered valid. Essentially, the…

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Will the immigration officer know what I said to CBP – or – the case of the sandwich smuggler

I have a confession. Long before I was an immigration lawyer, before I was a judicial law clerk, before I had a law license... I was a smuggler. A smuggler of the worst type - a sandwich smuggler. But, before we get there, here's a common question. "Will USCIS (or…

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Changes to USCIS “public charge” determinations and use of the Form I-864

*This article is now outdated* After this article was published, USCIS formally announced new rules for public charge determinations. Find an updated article about those changes here.    USCIS is considering major changes to how it makes "public charge" determinations. The scope of these potential changes, while not yet official,…

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What is the new 30/60/90 day rule? Now it’s just the 90-day rule.

Last month the State Department announced that it has eliminated the so-called 30/60/90 day rule. This was an extremely important rule both for visa applicants and those applying for adjustment of status. In this post we'll remind you what the old rule used to be and explain how the new…

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Why our immigration system is like a TSA line

There you are again – the interminable TSA line at the airport. All that stands between you and a Hawaiian vacation is this snaking queue of grouchy travelers. You notice that it’s all families in this line. Obnoxious, smooching newly-weds. Dads with operatic babies in tow. Siblings off to a…

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Want to end notario fraud? Take the law into your own hands

The following article, co-authorized with attorney Deborah Niedermeyer, is forthcoming by American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and Bender's Immigration Bulletin. Download the article free of charge here: Want To End Notario Fraud - Take the Law Into Your Own Hands. On a rainy northwest spring day, Juan and Maria walked into…

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Advising LPRs on foreign travel

Whew – your client has finally made it through the lengthy immigrant visa process. Or she’s nailed the adjustment interview and at long last has her green card in hand. What’s the first thing the client wants to do? Often, they want to pack their bags and go on a…

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Green card - What is a green card?

Green card

Green card. It's a term that is used often. But people don't use the term very carefully. What does "green card" actually mean under the United State's Immigration and Nationality Act? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. "Green card" simply has no legal meaning whatsoever. Instead, it's basically immigration slang. The problem is…

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Understanding “administrative processing”

The following materials are provided from a webinar hosted March 29, 2017 featuring guest speaker, Jay Gairson. Jay is an immigration and national security attorney in Seattle, Washington.  His clients are primarily from the Middle East, East Africa, and South Asia.  He regularly handles cases that receive additional fraud detection…

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Understanding immigrant intent

A U.S. immigration officer presumes that all persons travelling to the U.S. have “immigrant intent.” Immigrant intent means the person has the intention to stay permanently in the U.S.. If you are traveling to the U.S. on a temporary visa, you are required to prove that you do not plan…

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USCIS fees go up (a lot) on Dec. 23, 2016

On December 23, 2016 USCIS filing fees are going to increase. In some cases, they will increase a lot. This post highlights the changes that will most impact our clients. A table below gives a full list of all new fees, and shows by how much a fee increased. When…

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Does USCIS require original documents, or are copies okay?

When you are preparing an application for US Citizenship and Immigration Services do you need to provide original documents? The short answer is generally no - under current rules you are allowed to provide copies with your initial packet. If you provide copies with your original packet, however, you may be…

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Can I enter on a visitor’s visa (B-2) and then adjust status to permanent resident?

Several time per week I get a question that comes something like this: I'm a U.S. citizen and my wife is from China [or insert any other country. She has a visitor's visa and is planning to come to the U.S. later this month. Will we be able to adjust…

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INA to USC Conversion Table

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) is the primary authority for U.S. immigration law, codified at Title 8 United States Code. Immigration practitioners customarily cite directly to the INA rather than to its code counterpart and do not provide parallel citations. Use the table below to find see how INA…

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I got my greencard – now what?

Congratulations! You've been through the long process, and now you finally have your greencard. You're a lawful permanent resident... but now what? This post describes some important information you need to understand about your new legal status. Conditional residence. (2-year card). Look at your greencard. Is it valid for two…

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If you were victimized by a noatario publico you may be eligible for financial damages and even a U-Visa

It is a violation of Washington State law to advertise services as a notario publico. If you paid a notario for immigration services you may be entitled to recover money from that individual or his business. A notario's victim may also qualify for a crime victim U-Visa. Who is a notario?…

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Where can I download USCIS immigration forms?

Where can you find USCIS immigration forms? Right here! All immigration forms are freely available for download from the official USCIS website ( You should never pay anyone for a blank USCIS form since they can be downloaded for free. All official USCIS forms are listed below for easy access.  General…

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Do I need an immigration lawyer? (Maybe not)

What do immigration lawyers actually do? If you're going through the immigration process, do you need one? These are completely fair questions, so let's start with two important points: You are never required to use an immigration lawyer. The immigration statute gives you the right to have an immigration attorney if…

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What is the permanent bar under Section 212(a)(9)(C)(i)?

Under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) there is a long list of grounds of inadmissibility. Basically, these are things about you, or about your circumstances, that would prevent you from being allowed into the U.S. They can also prevent you from successfully adjusting status to a green card holder…

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A brief overview of U.S. immigration law

The following material comes from a draft chapter of a book I am preparing for the American Bar Association. Immigration Law for the Family Practitioner will help family law attorneys understand how immigration law may impact their cases and clients. I am publishing draft versions of the chapters from the…

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I got an invoice from the National Visa Center (NVC), what do I do next?

The National Visa Center (NVC) is where immigration cases can start to get really, really complicated. This post walks you through how to take care of paying your visa fee once you receive an invoice from the NVC.  We assume you're working on a family-based case for this discussion. Before…

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How do I check USCIS processing times?

How long will it take for USCIS to decide a case? There is no simple way to find the answer to this. That is, you can't just go to a USCIS webpage that will give you a definitive answer for a particular case type. With that caveat, though, there are…

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How do I check my USCIS case status?

You've filed your immigration case... but nothing has happened. Is there a problem? Did the case fall through the cracks? It is easy (and free) to check the status of your USCIS case online. First, navigate to the official USCIS online case status system at Here's what the webpage…

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What are the immigration consequences of suicidal and self-harming behavior?

It is surprisingly common for individuals to engage in self-harming behavior, such as cutting. Under  U.S. immigration law, when this behavior is linked to a mental illness and is likely to recur, the person is barred from the country. This article offers advice to immigration attorneys, who are likely to…

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9 Mistaken Beliefs About Immigrants & The Law

A version of this article was published by the King County Bar Association, co-authored by Greg McLawsen and Gutavo Cueva Immigration law is often viewed as a niche practice area. Perhaps for this reason there are a number of common misperceptions about immigration law and immigrants in the Bar at…

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Inside SeaTac airport; behinds the scene Customs and Border Protection

I was lucky to join a behind-the-scene’s tour of the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) operation at SeaTac International Airport. (The tour was organized for local members of the American Immigration Lawyers Association). We spent about two hours going through the airport with senior supervisors from the port. Here are a few…

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Where Can I Find Immigration Law?

With so many sources of information on immigration law on the web, it is extremely important to verify that the information is accurate and that the source of the information is reliable. Most of the information found online or elsewhere may be incorrect or outdated because immigration law is complex…

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What are the immigration rights of American Indians (ABCs) born in Canada?

Certain American Indians born in Canada enjoy access to the United States unrestricted by the Immigration and Nationality Act, a right stemming from the Jay Treaty of 1794. An examination of this right, reflected by codification as § 289 of the INA, reveals qualifying ABCs are entitled to privileges unparalleled…

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We here for you, as always.

Sound Immigration will continue its operations during the Covid crisis. Since our founding, we have operated as a remote, digitally-networked team, so that is nothing new for us.

What is new, of course, is the crisis that confronts the world as a whole. Now is the time to affirm our membership in the interconnected global community. We are proud, as ever, of the role that we as immigration lawyers play in strengthing those global bonds.

Stay strong. Stay socially distanced. We will make it through this together.

In solidarity,
Greg McLawsen
Founder & Managing Attorney