Couple seeks federal court’s action vs USCIS


A couple is seeking the federal court’s action after the U.S. Citizenship and Naturalization Services has not issued a decision on their I-485 application for adjustment of status to get a green card despite the passage of more than 33 months since the application was initially filed and almost 23 months since the wife’s adjustment of status interview took place.

Robert Lee Hale Jr. and his wife, Suinan Zhong, through their counsel Samuel I. Mok, said at the time of the filing of their lawsuit last year against U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and several USCIS U.S. officials, they had been waiting more than 24 months for a decision as the underlying I-130 petition for alien relative and I-485 application for adjustment of status were filed on July 21, 2015.

Mok said the adjustment of status interview occurred at the USCIS office on Saipan on June 6, 2016 and all requests for additional information were satisfied on June 8, 2016.

Mok disclosed that on Dec. 18, 2017, the USCIS approved the couple’s I-130 petition.

Hale, a U.S. citizen, and Zhong, a Chinese citizen, were married on Saipan on March 9, 2015.

On July 21, 2015, Hale filed with the USCIS an I-130 petition on behalf of his wife seeking to have her classified as an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen based on their marriage.

On that same day, Zhong filed with the USCIS an I-485 application for adjustment of status to a permanent resident based on her marriage to Hale.

On Aug. 3, 2017, the couple filed the lawsuit against the DHS and USCIS officials.

Aside from Kelley, the petitioners are suing Center Director for the USCIS National Benefits Center Robert M. Cowan, USCIS District Director for District 26 David Gulick, USCIS acting director James McCamant, and U.S. Attorney General Jefferson Sessions.

Mok asked the U.S. District Court for the NMI to direct the USCIS to issue a decision on the couple’s pending I-130 petition and I-485 application.

In the couple’s motion for summary judgment filed last Monday, Mok said the fact that couple’s I-130 petition was approved last Dec. 18 does not absolve the USCIS of the fact that the I-485 application is still inexplicably pending.

Mok said the 33-month delay at issue is inherently unreasonable and is far outside the normal processing time of the USCIS.

Mok noted that according to the USCIS’ own processing guidelines, the estimated time range for processing of an I-485 application by the Guam office is 9.5 months to 21 months from the time of an I-485 application is filed.

The lawyers pointed out that the I-485 application at issue is made by an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen, which Congress has already stated is an immigration priority and thus should be on the low end of listed time range.

“It is also highly unreasonable for the USCIS to conduct an adjustment of status interview on June 6, 2016 then wait almost two years without making any decision whatsoever,” the lawyer said.

By doing so, Mok said, the USCIS has placed the couple in administrative “limbo” that has caused them unnecessary anxiety and stress.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at

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