Due to seemingly endless backlogs, it is not unusual for sibling cases to take anywhere from 10-15 years to get your brother or sister here. During this time, a lot of unfortunate events or circumstances can happen, including the death of one of the parties or even a change of address. Sometimes, these types of incidents can have a dramatic impact on the case. For example, many petitioners change addresses during the time the I-130 petition for alien relative is pending without remembering to inform USCIS of the address change. In the interim, the government will sometimes issue a Request for Evidence if it discovers a deficiency in the documentation, which will go the last address on record. If the petitioner has not updated the address, he/she will likely not receive the time sensitive RFE, thereby jeopardizing the case. We have seen many cases like this actually denied because no response was filed to the RFE—all the while unbeknownst to the petitioner. What does one do in this type of situation?
There are essentially two choices under these circumstances. One option is to just file a new petition. However, understand that filing a new application will generate a new priority date, which affects how long it will take for the government to review a case, as well as how soon an interview can be scheduled. Under this scenario, a petitioner can lose countless years having to start all over again.
Fortunately, there is an alternative—although the outcome is less certain. Petitioners can file a Motion to Reopen (MTR) with USCIS. The first step is to obtain a copy of the Denial Notice to ascertain the grounds under which the petition was denied. This can be done by contacting USCIS customer service, or in some cases, having to file a Freedom of Information Act Request. In the Motion to Reopen, the petitioner can provide a detailed explanation why the case should be reinstated. In the above scenario, we have helped our clients explain that due to the address change, the RFE was never received, but that the applicant maintains a good faith intention to continue the case. We emphasize that the lapse was unintentional and detail, if applicable, the hardships that would befall the parties if the case is not restored. Although there is no guarantee that a MTR will be granted, an approval can save valuable time and preserve the original priority date of the I-130.
Receiving a denial of your I-130 petition can be distressing, but it is not necessarily the end of the road. If you act promptly, assemble the proper documentation, and marshal the appropriate arguments, it may be possible to reverse the denial and keep the case on track. If you need the help of a legal professional, give us a call. We have successfully handled many of these types of cases and restored them.