What USCIS Adjudicators Look For In A Strong Case

Have you ever wondered what exactly USCIS adjudicators looks for when they are reviewing an immigration case? So have I. Getting a glimpse of what goes on behind their doors would be valuable. Of course I won’t get a chance to know exactly what adjudicators do on a daily basis and I sure don’t want to work that job.

So, I’ll do my best to explain what a strong immigration case looks like and what evidence to submit. First, let’s find out what it takes for a USCIS adjudicator to get this job. Below is the description of what the job entails:

  • All USCIS adjudications officers must be U.S. Citizens in good standing with the law.
  • Candidates must undergo drug testing, a background investigation, and receive security clearance in order to be hired.
  • Successful applicants must undergo a six week training program in Dallas, Texas.
  • This includes instruction in immigration law, USCIS adjudication procedures, the naturalization process, fraud detection and more.
  • After this six-week training, potential officers must also under a one-week practical training session in at the National Benefits Center in Lees Summit, Missouri and a one-week session at a District Office or Service Center.
  • Only those candidates who successfully complete all three phases of training will be eligible for employment.

Salary of USCIS Adjudicator: $27,026 – $43,1521 base pay annually.

As you can see from the description above, these are the people that will be reviewing your case without actually meeting you personally. Except for the immigration officers that perform the interview of course.

Remember, adjudicators are human just like you. They are in relationships and know how much of an impact their decisions make on people lives.

Yes, Being Organized Does Matter

Being organized isn’t just helpful for you to remember to include all the important documents, it’s also essential of the adjudicator. They only have a small amount of time to review each case and make a decision. Make is easier for them to go through your documents by organizing them in a way that makes sense.

Some people get overwhelmed when trying to gather all the evidence need for their case and then feel it would be better to hire an attorney to do it for them. An attorney is a great option for those who have very difficult and complicated cases but not for the vast majority of straightforward applications.

One USCIS adjudicator said that a case submitted with the help of an attorney is usually more organized than one submitted by an individual. This may be because many people don’t know what a USCIS adjudicator is looking for when reviewing a case. Attorney’s have submitted enough cases to know which ones get approved and which ones get denied.

So, instead of paying thousands of dollars for someone else to organize your application, why not do it yourself? Here are some helpful tips that I used when submitting all of my immigration applications:

  • Use a cover letter that outlines what is inside the application
  • Use sticky notes to describe each piece of evidence
  • Use headings and subheadings when including additional sheets for explaination

Having an easy-to-read, organized file will help the adjudicator review your documents quicker. This makes for a happier and easier job for them and a possible quick approval for you.

They Are Tough When It Comes To Waivers

If your specific case requires that you submit a waiver for inadmissibility, you have a tough road ahead. I remember speaking with someone who initially came to the US legally on a visitor visa but overstayed once it expired. In this case, he would need to file a waiver for inadmissibility because he now has a 10 year bar. The waiver is needed to show that the US citizen spouse of the applicant will suffer hardship if the case is denied.

Adjudicators take a closer look at your case if you are filing a waiver. This is because they know without the waiver you would certainly be denied. One adjudicator explained that he does not give very much weight to claims of depression and anxiety unless it is significantly documented.This means that you should see a psychiatrist and document every single visit.

A good mental health argument should show there is a high probability of developing a mental health issue due to the separation. It’s also helpful to show how the mental health issue will and has interfered with their life, for example, negative effects on employment or school.

An example of a military veteran with documented PTSD could make for a strong case as long as it’s well documented.

Front-Loading Your Application Can Backfire

You may have heard about the term “front-loading” where you submit as much evidence as you possibly can. This is probably not a bad idea when it comes to proving that you have a bona fide relationship but can it backfire? I definitely think so.

USCIS Adjudicators don’t have much time to go through all the cases they must review in a given day. I have heard of some adjudicators sending a case to be interviewed at a local field officer because she didn’t want to go through all the documents. She didn’t want to be bothered with it. So if you’re trying to avoid a removal of conditions interview, you may want to be careful how much evidence you’re submitting.

In that case of a visa or adjustment of status, I still recommend submitting too much evidence rather than too little. When I initially filed our K1 visa, our petition was as thick as a law book. We included almost everything we could print out and show as evidence. It definitely worked and we were approved for the fiancee visa.

Then when it came time to apply for adjustment of status, we did submit a lot of evidence but definitely not as much as with the K1 visa. Interestingly enough though, the removal of conditions application had the least amount of evidence and we were approved without an interview. Of course, this is my own experience and yours might be different so include what you feel comfortable submitting.

Final Thoughts

USCIS adjudicators are regular people who have the same problems that many of us do. Although this is a job for them, they do understand that they are reviewing people’s lives and making the ultimate decision. They are trained well in what they do but there are some who make quick judgements about a case without a valid reason.

These are the cases that break my heart. No one should have to prove their love for their partner to a complete stranger but unfortunately, US immigration is not a right but a privilege. That is why we are forced to pay expensive fees and feel helpless when our case isn’t approved. In the unfortunate situation that your case is denied, please don’t give up hope. You do have options such as appealing the decision or reapplying with more evidence.

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