As attorneys, we are intently focused on the law and legal procedures. After all, failing to follow these could result in our disbarment. But we must remember that each of our cases begins with a person. And each person has a story, and this story, more often than not, is helpful for the case. A client’s story, told appropriately, brings the law to life. It reminds us why we chose to become lawyers, but it also helps us win cases.
It is true that immigration officers have exceptionally limited time to adjudicate a case. But nonetheless, during that limited time, the officers would like to get a glimpse of the person in each case. It is important to tell the appropriate story.
For example, in an employment case, we don’t dwell on the client’s relationship with his or her spouse. We don’t focus on hardships a relative may face. But we tell a story of the client’s profession, education or entrepreneurism as it relates to the client as a person. A person who works hard, has dreams, and is qualified for the immigration benefit being sought. In marriage-based immigration cases, we focus on the persons entering (or exiting) the union and how each person made the union complete or contributed to its end. In waiver cases, we look beyond the U.S.; we tell the story of what life would be like in the country of origin and what impact it would have on the relevant persons. The law guides us in determining what stories to tell, we just have to care enough to seek out those stories and present them.
A compelling and appropriate story can go a long way in helping the immigration officer understand how the law applies to the person in question. By integrating clients’ stories, we have successfully advocated in cases that had multiple RFEs, exceptionally prolonged adjudications, weak first applications or even Notices of Intent to Deny. I firmly believe that it is my job, as a client’s immigration attorney, to not only know the law but to also know my client so I can present the client’s legal story in the most effective way. It works.