November 12, 2006

Atty. Emmanuel S. Tipon

10 traits of a good immigration petitioner

1. Love, endless love.

In the movie “Pandora and the Flying Dutchman” Pandora (Ava Gardner) said: “The measure of one’s love is what one is willing to give up for it. I would give up my life for you. What would you give up for me?”

“My salvation,” replied the Flying Dutchman (James Mason).

Your immigration beneficiaries do not expect you to give up your life or your salvation for them.

When I ask petitioners how much they love their relative, their reply is: “Oh, I love her very much.”

But when I start telling the things to be done, the “very much” turns out to be “not that much.”

There is an elderly gentleman from Ilocos Norte who married a woman much younger than he is. His wife’s visa application was denied by the U.S. Consulate in Manila because she said the wrong things at the interview. The USCIS informed him that it will revoke the visa petition unless he can overcome the adverse statements made by the wife.

Despite the daunting task facing the gentleman and the wagging heads of relatives, he still persists in fighting for his wife. He is willing to spend any amount to bring his wife to America. He hired an excellent lawyer. He signed a blank check for his lawyer. He travels to the Philippines twice a year to be with her, sends money for her support, telephones her frequently. He vowed to appeal if the petition is revoked. Here is an example of a petitioner who has shown endless love for his relative.

The lawyer plans to write a revised version of the song “Ti ayat ti maysa nga lakay”.

2. Willingness to spend money.

If you are unwilling to spend any money, or are willing to spend only a little money, you should not even consider petitioning for any one. You have to pay hundreds of dollars of filing fees to immigration and consular authorities. You may even have to pay a lawyer.

There is a matron from Central Luzon who is always whining about the expenses she has incurred for her several children whom she petitioned and suspects that they might not even reciprocate. When you spend money for a relative, do not expect the relative to pay you back.

3. Willingness to spend time and exert effort to prepare and file the petition.

You must gather the documents required to support the petition, fill up the forms, attach the proper fee, and mail it to the USCIS. If you are not an expert, immigration authorities might tell you that there are blanks you did not fill or additional evidence you must submit.

If USCIS approves your visa petition, it will go to the National Visa Center which will ask you to pay more fees and submit more documents.

When the file is sent to the U.S. Consulate, they will be asking for more fees and more documents

4. Patience, persistence, and perseverance.

Many petitioners are impatient. They want immediate results. Immigration authorities have their own priorities. There are timetables for adjudicating petitions. There are petitioners ahead of you. Do not expect immigration authorities to drop everything and attend to your petition.

On the other hand, do not simply file and then forget about your petition. If years have elapsed and you have not heard from USCIS, check to find out the status. Be sure you made copies of your petition and that you sent it by registered mail with return receipt so you know when USCIS received it.

If your petition is denied, don’t just shrug your shoulders. Seek competent legal assistance to determine if you can ask for reconsideration or file an appeal.

It is like courting a woman. If she initially resists your romantic entreaties you will never win her if you quit right away. As Frank Sinatra used to sing: “But you were so persistent, you wore down my resistance.”

5. Willingness to recognize own limitations.

Many people are smart. But there are more people who think they are smart when in fact they are stupid.

For instance, some people think that because their grandfather filed a petition for his son without legal assistance that these people can do the same for their spouse or other relative. They do not realize that their grandfather was probably smarter than they are, that the laws and forms have changed, and that petitioning for a child is not the same as petitioning for a spouse.

It is these smarty-pants who encounter immigration problems.

6. Willingness and ability to obtain competent legal assistance.

A great number of lay persons seeking to petition relatives refuse to seek legal assistance for one reason alone – they do not want to spend money.

An old man wanted to marry a younger woman and bring her to America. He went to a travel agent. The agent told him to buy a ticket, go to the Philippines, marry the woman, and then file a visa petition for her. The woman was refused a visa.

If he had gone to an excellent lawyer, the lawyer would most likely have advised him not to marry the woman, but to file a fiancée visa petition. The requirements are less, since you do not have to file joint documents like income tax returns, joint bank accounts, etc. You do not have to prove that you consummated a marriage or that you cohabited together, etc. Read our article “10 Commandments to Bring Your Sweetheart to America.”

Furthermore, the agent did not have an associate in he Philippines who could have assisted the woman by preparing her for the interview, organizing the supporting documents, and accompanying her to the U.S. Embassy.

We have an associate in the Philippines who can do these things.

Immigration law has become so complicated and so fast changing that only the best immigration lawyers with significant experience can handle visa petitions especially where there is a potential for complications to develop – like older men who seek to bring to America much younger women, or men who seek to bring those they believe to be their “illegitimate” children, people petitioning for adopted children, or men and women who met and married faster than Marcos did when he wooed and wed Imelda in 11 days.

7. Willingness to suffer inconvenience.

In addition to the inconvenience of preparing, filing, and following-up immigration petitions, one factor that most immigration petitioners do not take into account is the inconvenience of living together with the petitioned relative upon arrival in the U.S.A.

Have you talked to your spouse on how she feels about having extra mouths to feed and dishes to wash. Have you talked to your children on how they feel about giving up their room to accommodate your relatives.

8. Willingness to take risks.

Some petitioners are unwilling to take risks. They want a guarantee that the petition will be approved and that if it is not, they want the lawyer to refund the fees paid.

“I am the decider,” quipped Bush when questioned about his policies. But an immigration lawyer is not the decider. He is only the adviser and preparer of documents for filing. USCIS and the Consul are the deciders.

Nevertheless, there are certain things that a lawyer could guarantee. Call me.

9. Willingness to face liability for supporting relative.

Executing an affidavit of support is in effect contracting to support your relative for whom you executed the affidavit. Read our article: “Affidavit of support: Sponsor’s liability.”

Are you willing to support your relative upon arrival? Your relative may not find a job right away. Your relative may even be too old to get a job.

10. Positive attitude.

A petitioner must believe that the petition will be approved and that the relative will be given a visa.

I do not enjoy listening to people who say: “baka hind ma approve,” “baka awan pagbalbalin na.”

I have told such people: I do not want baka, I want kalding.

(Atty. Tipon is from Laoag City. He holds a Master of Laws degree from Yale Law School and a Bachelor of Laws degree from U.P. He practices law and writes law books. Office: 905 Umi St., Suite 201, Honolulu, HI 96819. Tel. (808) 847-1601.E-mail: Website: This article is for general information only and is not intended as legal advice.)

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Copyright 2006 Ilocos Times. All rights reserved.

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