Applying for Deferred Action (DREAM ACT) with a Deportation Order, Removal Order or In Absentia Order

Today is August 15, 2012 and Immigration (USCIS also known as DHS) is accepting Deferred Action applications .

Is the application process for Deferred Action simple?

Well . . . for some people it may not be as simple as others. I’m often asked about how to apply for deferred action if you have a removal order (also known as a deportation order) or perhaps an in absentia order (which essentially means that you did not appear in Court and were ordered deported/removed without you being in Court by an Immigration Judge).

There is good news . . . well somewhat good news. Even a person with a deportation or removal order may apply for deferred action. However, it is not as simple as applying for deferred action without a deportation or removal order. It will require a two step process which will involve both applying for deferred action with Immigration (USCIS or DHS) and filing what is known as a motion to reopen with the Office of the Chief Counsel which are the lawyers that represent DHS (essentially you can think of them as prosecutors) and the Immigration Court. Obviously, don’t assume that the Office of the Chief Counsel will automatically agree to reopen the deportation/removal case, or that the Immigration
Court will do so. It will certainly be somewhat challenging , but certainly doable. We have been very successful in getting the Office of the Chief Counsel and the Immigration Court to reopen cases even before the Deferred Action program, so I’m hoping our success rate will continue.

In any event . . . I wish everyone good luck and hope that finally all your DREAMs come true.


DREAM ACT & DEFERRED ACTION IN NYC: HOW TO APPLY?

DHS (Immigration) just made an announcement that the application process will finally begin August 15, 2012. Finally, many innocent children and young adults will be able to obtain deferred action and apply for work authorization. Our office has been flooded with potential applicants who wish to finally be able to work legally in the United States and apply for work authorization and a social security number.

What is also important is that DHS (Immigration) will not use information provided in this application process to enforce immigration laws (meaning the information will not be used for deportation proceedings) unless of course there are major issues. This means all information will be kept confidential.

This has been long awaited. So, for all those that wish to take advantage of this tremendous opportunity, let me once again summarize what are the qualification criteria.

You may qualify if you:

  1. Came to the U.S. before your 16th Birthday; and
  2. Were under the age of 31 on June 15, 2012; and
  3. Have been a continuous resident in the U.S. since June 15, 2007 (Short brief absences are okay); and
  4. Were physically present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012 and at the time of submitting your application; and
  5. Were out of status before June 15, 2012 (meaning illegal/overstayed/violated your status) or entered without inspection (illegally crossed into the U.S.); and
  6. Are currently in school, or graduated high school, or have obtained a GED, or have been honorably discharged from the armed services or the coast guard; and
  7. Have not been convicted of a felony, or a significant misdemeanor, or three or more misdemeanors, and do not pose a threat to the national security or public safety.

The very important aspect of this application is that you will not have the right to appeal a denial.Not everyone that meets the above  criteria will automatically qualify. So, it is very important that when you file, it is done the proper way. You will not get a second chance. So, do not mess up this opportunity. If you need professional assistance, contact a licensed experienced attorney, not one of
those immigration offices that are not lawyers.

Another important aspect is that even individuals that are currently in immigration court deportation/removal or were previously in deportation/removal court, or have deportation/removal orders against them can still apply.

Let me summarize, if you qualify . . . don’t be stupid!@!!#%!!!!!!! Get it right the first time!

Best of luck to all of you.


NOT JUST A DREAM ANYMORE: DREAM ACT & DEFERRED ACTION – HOW TO APPLY IN NYC?

The Obama Administration announced last Friday that it would agree to grant deferred action to undocumented individuals who were brought in to the United States as children.  Although deferred action is not permanent legal status, it will allow individuals to remain in the United States and completed their education and obtain work authorization.  This is great news for individuals in New York and New Jersey where I have law offices. It appears that the following people would qualify under this new policy: –

  • Must be between 15 and 30 years old
  • Must have entered the United States before the age of 16
  • Have resided in the U.S. for a continuous period of 5 years
  • Are currently in school or have graduated from high school, or have obtained a general equivalency degree, or have been honorably discharged from the Coast Guard or Armed Services
  •  Have not been convicted of one serious crime or multiple minor crimes Applications will need to be submitted to U.S.C.I.S.  Even individuals in proceedings may be eligible.

Applications will be decided on a case-by-case basis.    If the deferred action is granted to an individual, it will be granted for a period of two years and can be renewed. Along with deferred action, an individual will receive work authorization if an individual is able to demonstrate a financial need for employment.


How can I stop my deportation case pending in the New York City Immigration Court?

Many people are surprised to hear that if you have a deportation or removal case at the New York City Immigration Court located at 26 Federal Plaza, New York, New York, you might be able to request closing the deportation case.
The Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) and the Office of the Chief Counsel (which is the lawyer for the DHS) are more likely to close a deportation case pending in NYC than in any other jurisdiction . . . at least in my opinion and experience. In fact, the DHS is very generous and agrees to close an overwhelming number of cases.
I even had success in a case with a client that was in detention and had been convicted of various drug related charges. Despite the client being in custody and bond having been denied, the DHS agreed to close the deportation case, which allowed my client to walk out of detention join his family once again. Naturally, there were equities that were favorable to him which were able to show to the DHS.
Now, there may be times when you may not want to close a deportation case, such as when you want to present a particular case in front of the immigration judge. However, many clients also do not want to risk deportation and would rather close out their deportation case and try to legalize through other methods.
One must carefully evaluate each case and make a decision based on a careful balance of the positives and negatives with respect to being in front of the Immigration Court.


I have an Immigration Marriage Interview in New York City, but I am currently separated

Does this sound familiar to you?

Statistics show that an overwhelming number of marriages end in divorce. The reasons are many. Sometimes its financial reasons that cause marital issues and other times it’s just because the couple has grown apart. Sometimes . . . the in-laws are even blamed.

The purpose of this piece is to provide some guidance to an individual that filed for a green card (lawful permanent residence) or also called adjustment of status, but is now separated from the U.S. citizen spouse. What can such an individual do? They now have a green card interview and don’t know what to do? Is there anything that can be done?

This is a loaded question. I understand. There may be ways for an individual to continue on the road to a green card without the assistance of the U.S. citizen spouse. The law does allow some individuals who have been mistreated by their U.S. citizen spouses to be able to file a self-petition and continue to try to get a green card on their own. Immigration (USCIS) refers to “extreme cruelty” as the standard. Now, what do I mean by “extreme cruelty”? My belief is that there is no clear cut definition of this term. In some cases, a pattern of emotional or mental abuse is sufficient. Obviously any physical abuse should immediately qualify. The more important question my clients often ask me is how do they prove it? I ask them what do you mean by proof? It’s rare that a person has a video of the abuser performing such acts. The more common way is by putting forth credible believable evidence. Yes, at times even a mere credible sworn statement by the applicant can suffice if detailed enough and bolstered by other evidence. Do not assume that there is no way of proving “extreme cruelty”. The earlier you consult with an attorney the better your chances of making the situation worse than it has become.

Speak to any attorney. All may not be lost. The fact that you are now no longer with your U.S. citizen spouse does not necessarily mean you can no longer get a green card. 


I have a Deportation case in NYC . . . What can I do?

Okay, so you have been placed into deportation proceedings (also known as removal proceedings) in NYC. So, what can you do? What choices and/or options do you have? We are obviously presuming that you do not want to go back to your country of origin or cannot go back.

You may have some relief available in front of the immigration judge in NYC. I can tell you from over a decade of experience handling immigration cases in many states, that the Immigration Courts in NYC have some of the fairest Immigration Judges in the country. I’m always confronted with questions such as “How is my Immigration Judge?” This is actually a very good question. What I can tell you is that if you have a deportation and/or removal case in front of the Immigration Courts in NYC located at 26 Federal Plaza, NY, NY, you likely have an Immigration Judge that will be intelligent, fair and unbiased. The Immigration Judges in NYC will give a person a fighting chance to present their case and try to defend oneself from deportations or removal out of the country.

What this means is that whether you have an asylum application in NYC or are in removal proceedings due to a criminal convictions in NYC, you will have a meaningful opportunity to present your case. In fact, NYC is at the forefront of administratively closing and/or terminating deportation/removal cases. This is commonly referred to as “prosecutorial discretion”.

In any event, if there is ever a good place to be placed in removal proceedings (wait . . . did I just say that? . . . Is there ever a good place to be in removal proceedings? . . . Perhaps, there is . . .), I would say NYC is probably the best place. 


Will I get arrested if I go to the Immigration Court or Office in New York City?

Many people wonder whether they would be arrested if they go to their immigration interview or court hearing in New York City. This has been asked so many times that until recently I felt comfortable advising my clients that they would not be arrested. However, as is the case with most things in life, there are exceptions.

Just this week, I had a client who had a pending deportation/removal case before the Immigration Court in New York City. This was actually the second time my client and I were in Court on this case. So, it is obvious that my client had no intention to hide or run away from the immigration authorities. But, guess what happened? After our Court hearing the attorney for the government advised the Judge and me that there were Immigration Officers from DHS (Immigration Customs Enforcement – “ICE”) waiting
for my client. I was obviously shocked, surprised and angry at the same time. Why in the world did the government attorney not tell me beforehand? Did they really think that had the government attorney told me, I would have told my client to make a run for it? I was simply disgusted by this tactic used by my government – no . . . by our government.

This is just an example of how the government continues to abuse our immigration laws and waste taxpayers money. It is a despicable act. My client, who is represented by a lawyer, was taken into custody for no logical reason. He does not pose a threat and certainly is not a flight risk since he showed up to Court several times. Luckily for him, he had a lawyer that accompanied him to the hearing. So, we will feverishly work to attempt to get him released from custody immediately.

Now, this article is not mean to scare you to not show up to a scheduled hearing. That would be stupid and would probably put you in worse position. In fact, the series of events that befell this client is actually very rare. The point of me telling the story is simple. If you have fears, do not go to Court without a lawyer. The fact that my client had a lawyer actually had a great impact. I was able to speak with the Immigration Officer in order to speed up his processing. Furthermore, the government was aware that he had a lawyer, and as such should not question my client outside my presence. 


Applying for Asylum in New York City

From the many types of clients that appear in my office, some of the saddest stories are probably from clients that are seeking asylum in the United States. It is true that every personal story has its own tragedies. However, most of the individuals I meet seeking asylum have lived through some horrific events unlike most.

These cases should be taken extremely serious as someone’s life is likely at stake. Returning an asylum seeker back to the country that they are scared to return to is something that I just can’t live with. It is because of this, that I feel that I have a great obligation to try to protect my client and their family.

Look, the fact is that an asylum case is not an easy case. The asylum office of the United States Citizenship & Immigration Service and/or the Immigration Court will want you to prove your case. So, how do you prove your asylum case? What if you don’t have any documents to prove that you are subject to persecution? These are great questions. You should know that it is actually rare that a client comes into my office with all the proofs in hand. In some cases, the client was so fearful that the client literally left with nothing but the clothes on his back. The law does allow a fact finder to approve a case without
any evidence in the form of supporting documents. In some cases, the testimony of the asylum seeker may be enough.

An asylum seeker should always proceed with caution when filing for asylum. Some mistakes may not be fixable. This is why someone should always proceed with the advice of a licensed and experienced attorney. Yes, it will costs money but I assure you, if things go bad during your asylum process because of ignorance of the law, it will cost you much much more to try to fix the problem, if it is at all even possible. Remember the best investment is investing in yourself and your family.


I received a Notice to Appear from the Immigration Court located at 26 Federal Plaza, New York, NY . . . What can I do and can I stop the deportation?

Well, the very first thing you shouldn’t do is ignore it!!!!!!! This is a very important document which basically demands that you show up in Immigration Court in New York City and defend yourself from deportation. Essentially, Immigration (DHS) is trying
to deport you out of the country. So, the earlier you get started with preparing your defense, the greater the likelihood of success in stopping the deportation. All too often clients seem to think that if they delay a case, it might go away. This is exactly what you
shouldn’t do. In fact, ignoring a Notice to Appear can have irreparable consequences. Think of a deportation case as being somewhat similar to a criminal case. Would you ignore a court date in a criminal case?

Be proactive!!!! Don’t just be defensive. Go on the offense . . . Just because you are fighting a very powerful government agency doesn’t mean the odds are against you. There are many times that Immigration (DHS) even makes mistakes. Yes, this happens.
Remember, behind DHS are real people.

Do you need a lawyer? Well, ask yourself whether you would defend yourself in a criminal case. If the answer is heck no, you are on the right track.

The lesson to be learned is the quicker you react and are prepared, the more the likelihood that you will have a positive outcome in your deportation case.