Help!!! . . . Why is Immigration (DHS) trying to deport me for a very old criminal case and conviction and sending me a Notice to Appear at 26 Federal Plaza, New York, New York??

Does this sound familiar?

Clients keep asking me why immigration (also known as DHS – Department of Homeland Security or ICE -Immigration Customs Enforcement) is trying now to deport someone for a very old conviction.There really is no one answer to this question. I have several opinions and have spoke to several federal agents about this. The answers are numerous and range from advances in technology which bring to light these old convictions, sharing of information between the various agencies, as well as increase of enforcement against individuals with criminal convictions. There are usually positive and negative outcomes from new laws. As new laws or regulations have come out that seem to favor legalization, laws that have been on the books but not enforced are now being overzealously enforced.

I recently had several cases dealing with individuals who had old drug convictions and were placed into deportation and removal by the issuance of a Notice to Appear which demanded that the person appear at the Immigration Court at 26 Federal Plaza, New York NY. These clients were in panic and couldn’t believe that due to a single criminal conviction many years ago, Immigration would now try to deport them. After reassuring them that we could plead our case in front of an Immigration Judge, they felt a sense of comfort. In fact, in the past few months, I have even been successful in getting Immigration to agree to close the deportation/removal case before we even got to trial.

As I usually state, when it comes to criminal issues, do not attempt to handle the matter on your own. If money is the issues, it will become a bigger issue and more expensive issue down the road, if you don’t have an attorney experienced with criminal issues in Immigration Court.


Filing Form I-751 Petition to Remove the Conditions of Residence when Separated or Divorced

So, you got your conditional permanent residence (conditional/temporary green card) and now it’s time
to apply for the permanent card.

In the best case scenario, a person who obtained conditional permanent residence still is in a marital
union and in marital bliss. Both, a marital union and marital bliss? . . . . Can that happen even after
years of marriage? Yes, it’s possible. All jokes aside, certainly if you are still with your spouse and
remain married, then all you have to do is document and prove that the marriage is and continues to be
bona fide (meaning you married your spouse for love and not to obtain permanent residence (a green
card). As long as you can do that, your application of Form I-751 Petition to Remove the Conditions
of Residence should be approved. Any type of evidence showing the marriage was entered for the
right reasons and showing that a residence is shared is usually considered. In fact, in some cases even
derogatory (negative) evidence can be utilized to show a shared residence. For example, in one case in
New York City where there really weren’t any joint documents, we proved a shared marital residence
by submitted a domestic incident report (a police report) where police were called due to a heated
argument between our client and her spouse. What better evidence to show that the couple lives
together, than through a police report that shows police arrived at the residence after a disturbance call.
The point is sometimes, one has to think outside the box.

What do you do if the person is separated or divorced from the spouse from whom the person obtained
the conditional residence? One thing a person should never do is to do nothing!!!!! What? . . . .
What I mean is do not just decide you will not file the application or petition to lift the conditions.
Immigration law is somewhat flexible when it comes to marriages. Naturally, not all marriages work
out. Sometimes, couples separate and sometimes they divorce. So depending on whether the applicant
is separated or divorced, one can still file the application without the other spouse participating in
the application. For example, you can file by yourself if you were battered or subject to extreme
cruelty. You can also file if you married the person in good faith, but the marriage just didn’t work
out. However, it is important to note that the eligibility for the categories which allow a person to file
without the spouse may depend on whether the couple is divorced. If you fit within the category of
individuals filing without the spouse, we suggest you hire an experienced immigration attorney to guide
you through this somewhat complicated process. But, fear not!!!! There is hope.


Deportation Immigration Court at 26 Federal Plaza, New York City, NY Based on Criminal Arrest/ Conviction

What can a person do if they are summoned to appear through a Notice to Appear at the Immigration

Court in New York City located at 26 Federal Plaza?

The first thing to do is not to panic.

The second thing to do is to make sure to plan to attend and appear at the scheduled hearing that
appears on the Notice to Appear or Court Notice.

The third thing to do is be fully prepared, advised and knowledgeable about your rights, obligations and
the law. Do you understand what I mean? No? . . . If you don’t understand (which unless you are an
immigration lawyer, I don’t expect you to understand) then meet and speak with an immigration lawyer
who does these cases for a living. Let me try to put it in perspective for you. Quite often, I’m asked “Do
I need a lawyer for my Deportation Immigration Court case where I received a Notice to Appear at 26
Federal Plaza, New York City?” I usually respond by asking them another question. I ask them whether
they need to go to a doctor to treat a fractured bone? They likely can find the method of treatment
on the internet. But, would they try to treat the fracture on their own? I doubt it and if they would,
they are likely to do something wrong. The same is true for a deportation hearing in immigration court,
especially when it involved criminal arrests or convictions.

I can tell you from experience that being a green card holder (permanent resident) does not guarantee
that you will be allowed to stay, irrespective of whether they have had the green card for 20 or 30
years, or even longer. In fact, just today I was in Court for a client who has been a green card holder
since 1978. Immigration (Department of Homeland Security) is trying to deport him for a small drug
possession conviction from almost 20 years ago. This is his only conviction!!!!

So . . . be proactive. Go on the offense. Don’t just act defensively. You will be in a much better position
this way.


Criminal Arrest or Conviction and Deportation/Removal in New Jersey Immigration Court

Now that everyone may have heard about the possibility of some immigration legalization (amnesty)
law that the government is trying to pass, many people wonder how it will affect them.

In general, people likely fall into two categories. First, people who may be undocumented (illegally in
the U.S.) are likely to benefit from any immigration reform. Who exactly? It is very early to speculate
what categories of people will be able to get some immigration status as a result of some future law.
The second group of people who often ask me are people with criminal issues. More likely than not,
these people may not benefit directly. In fact, some will argue that any new laws may make it even
tougher on non-U.S. citizens with criminal arrests and/or convictions. As such, people who fall within
these two categories should immediately weigh their options.

All too often, families contact me because their loved one is detained by immigration officials in New
Jersey because of a criminal arrest or conviction and is now facing deportation in an Immigration
Court in Newark , New Jersey. What I tell these people is that one of the most important decisions
they will make is the choice of a lawyer. Each person facing these issues should be represented by an
immigration lawyer who not only has the experience with these types of criminal/immigration issues,
but a lawyer who has the support staff to assist the lawyer and most importantly, a lawyer who truly
cares about his clients and does not just treat the law practice as business.

Just last week, we had several cases, where our office used various strategies for various fact based
matters. In two of those cases (with the third case still pending), we obtained results which put a smile
on everyone’s face in my office.

One case dealt with someone who was a permanent resident and was facing deportation/removal
because of multiple drug arrests and criminal convictions. To make matters worse, his removal from
the U.S. was likely days away when his family hired our office. He had missed his immigration court
date and an immigration judge had ordered him deported. We immediately filed a motion to reopen
the deportation/removal proceedings, which was granted and stopped the government from deporting
him pending the outcome of a trial. We then filed all applications for relief. After testimony, both the
Immigration Judge and even the immigration prosecutor (Immigration trial attorney) agreed to the
relief we were seeking. As a result, he was released and joined his family. He had been in custody for 8
months held under mandatory detention.

In another case, our client had been a permanent resident since the 1970’s and entered the U.S. under
the age of 10. Yes . . . you heard right. His entire family was in the U.S. including his wife and his young
son. He had been previously convicted of sexual abuse of a minor in criminal court as result of pleading
guilty. His prior criminal lawyer had told him to plead guilty and that he would not be deported because
he had been in the U.S. for such a long time. Our client claimed that he was innocent and that his
attorney urged him to plead guilty. This was terrible advice because his conviction was deemed an
aggravated felony, which would almost certainly lead to his removal from the U.S. When he retained
our office, we immediately went to work believing in his innocence and thinking about reuniting him
with his minor son who he hadn’t seen in many months. An option we saw was to try to vacate (get rid

of) his criminal conviction due to the bad advice he had received from his prior criminal attorney. After
this motion was filed, we went back to the Immigration Judge and convinced the Immigration Judge that
after he decision by the Criminal Court Judge (vacating the conviction), the government (Immigration)
could no longer hold him in custody due the conviction being vacated. The immigration prosecutor
strongly objected at first. However, the Immigration Judge agreed with us and the deportation/removal
proceedings were terminated (closed) and the client released. After being in custody for almost 9
months under mandatory detention, he was finally reunited with his family.

In a third case, our client was charged with having been convicted of a drug offense, namely cocaine.
We argued to the Immigration Judge that the government (Immigration) could not prove that the
drug involved cocaine and that proving the type of drug involved was a necessary element of the
deportation/removal case. The Judge adjourned the case in order to see whether the government
would agree to terminate (close) the deportation/removal case due to our strong argument.

As you can see, there isn’t one way to handle a case involving criminal issues. Our office employs
various methods depending on the facts of the case. So, if you have a loved one in custody, employ
every method available to increase the chance of a positive outcome for him or her.


Provisional Waiver

Can I get a Green Card in the U.S. if I’m married to a U.S. Citizen but entered illegally or without Inspection?

A person that enters the country illegally cannot adjust their status (get a green card or apply for permanent residency) in the U.S. based on the current law if the basis is marriage to a U.S. citizen.  (There is a limited exception which I will not discuss in this article.)  Such persons can only get a green card or permanent residency through consular processing.  What this essentially means is that such a person would need to leave the country and get their immigrant visa (green card) at a U.S. consulate outside the country.  However, a huge problem was that such persons would not be able to get a green card without a waiver of the unlawful presence bar.  Essentially anyone who has been in the U.S. unlawfully present for 180 days or more is barred from re-entering for 3 years.  If unlawfully present for 1 year or more, then the bar is 10 years!!!  Such individuals could apply for a waiver of the bar (meaning a pardon or for forgiveness) if they could prove that a qualifying relative such as a U.S. Citizen spouse or parent would suffer an extreme hardship if the waiver is not granted.  The problem was that the person would first have to leave the country and then apply for the waiver.  So, if the waiver were to be denied, the person would be stuck outside the U.S..  In addition, even if the waiver would be granted, it may take many months or even years before the decision,and throughout all that time, the person would be separated from their loved ones here in the U.S.

Immigration just announced a new Provisional Waiver (I-601A Waiver) that will be available March 4, 2013.  So, starting that day, persons who otherwise qualify can apply for the waiver while in the U.S. .  So, anyone that was afraid to leave the country to apply for the waiver (which made perfect sense), can now do so while in the U.S.  Naturally, the person would still have to be able to prove that their qualifying relative would suffer an extreme hardship if the waiver is denied.  However, with the right representation and facts, getting a waiver is certainly possible.  In Brooklyn, New York City for example, we have had many clients who entered  illegally or without inspection and now are married to a U.S. citizen and would like to file for a green card without risking being stuck outside the country for an extended period of time.  So, I’m pleased to inform those people that a new avenue is available.


New Law: Provisional Waiver – I-601A Waiver

Does the following apply to you?

1)       You entered without inspection or illegally

2)      You are married to a US Citizen

3)      You can show that your spouse or parent will suffer an extreme hardship if you cannot get a green card

If this applies to you, take advantage of this new law and contact our office.


Filing for an E2 Investor Visa in New York City

The past few weeks, I have received calls from individuals looking to get information about filing for an investor visa under the E2 Visa category in New York City. From the outset, I’m always impressed with immigrants who have such faith in our economy, that they would take their hard earned money and invest it into a business here in New York City. In fact, even our Mayor has made many statements about how beneficial immigration is to our economy. Anyway, let me get back to the issue I want to blog about. Many of our callers seem to think that to apply for an investor visa (E2 Visa) the investment amount must be an extraordinary amount. There is no such requirement. In fact, within the past month or so, we have received approvals of E2 Visa applications for individuals who have invested less than $50,000 into a business here in New York City. In fact, one investor had invested about $30,000 at the time of filing the application. What is important is not necessarily the amount that was invested, but whether the investment is an investment in a real enterprise and whether such funds have been put at risk. As far as the type of business that qualifies for an investor visa, almost any business will do so. We have even successfully filed investor visa for an individual that owns a kiosk in a mall (you know . . . one of those little booths in mall that perhaps sells pillow pets or cell phone accessories).

The point is Immigration recognizes the need for immigrant investors. Don’t presume your investment is to small to qualify . . . Our experiences of successfully filing countless numbers of E2 Investor Visa applications has taught us that as long as you have a real investment, you will qualify.


Criminal Convictions and Waivers in New York City

All too often, my office is confronted with someone from New York City (NYC) who has a criminal conviction and needs to apply for a waiver during a green card (permanent residency) application or while in Immigration Court in New York City. The fact that you may have been arrested or convicted of a criminal offense may not be the end of the world. Yes, certain convictions may bar you from being eligible for relief, however there may be waivers available. A waiver is basically a pardon, where immigration known as the United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (under DHS – Department of Homeland Security) forgives the offense. It is usually based on proving certain factors, such as hardship to the alien and/or qualifying relatives. A balancing test is usually applied where the positive and negative are weighed.

In many cases, all is not lost simply because there is a conviction. You should also however be aware that certain crimes which may not appear to be serious are offenses for which Immigration can deny your green card, or worse, deport or remove you from the United States. As such, if you or a loved one,
has had issues with the criminal justice system, do not gamble. Consult with an attorney!!!!!!!!


NYC Criminal record causing Immigration Detention at the Essex County Jail in Newark

Does this sound familiar to you?

You may ask yourself why in the world someone from New York City (NYC) would now be held at the Essex County Jail in Newark. That would actually by a very valid question. Unfortunately, most immigration detainees from the New York City area are now held in New Jersey somewhere.

So, what can be done? Well . . . the first thing that needs to be done is to evaluate the case and try to figure out if there is a way to secure his release from custody. Time is of the essence and is certainly not on your side. It almost seems unfair that a person who has gotten past the criminal court process now needs to go through another process with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (I.C.E.) and now face the possibility of deportation and removal out of the U.S.

You will be surprised to find out that unlike the criminal process, the immigration deportation and removal process in front of the Immigration Court will be a lot more stressful. It is by no means a leveled playing field. It will be your loved one vs. the federal government. Obviously, it is unfair and the available defenses and relief are limited.

As with anything else, the more prepared you are, the better your chances of prevailing and securing your loved one’s release. Make no mistake about it . . . the Essex County Jail is not a place that anyone wants to be, especially someone that has gotten through the criminal process already and now is faced with immigration issues as a result. So, be prepared . . . because this may be your loved one’s last chance to stay in the United States.