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Waivers Granted to a Family of Four

Maryland Immigration lawyer Himedes V. Chicas successfully represented a family of four in removal proceedings, fighting to ensure that they would all remain in the United States as lawful permanent residents. The family was collectively placed into removal proceedings following a federal investigation into the fraudulent activities of an unscrupulous employer that had sponsored the principal beneficiary for an employment based immigrant visa more than eleven years ago. Due to that employer’s admitted fraud, it was alleged that the principal beneficiary in this case had also directly committed immigration fraud in obtaining his immigrant visa. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) therefore charged the principal’s immigrant visa as being invalid and placed him into removal proceedings. As the other three family members were derivatives of that family member’s immigrant visa, the DHS also sought to deport them from the country.
After appearing before the Immigration Judge in the family’s joined proceedings, immigration Attorney Chicas successfully sought a severance of the principal beneficiary’s case from the derivative beneficiaries’ cases, given that only the principal was directly charged with having committed fraud. Moreover, immigration lawyer Chicas convinced the Court to schedule and to proceed with the derivatives’ cases before the principal’s case. Subsequently, Attorney Chicas convinced the DHS Chief Counsel’s Office to grant a favorable exercise of prosecutorial discretion to the derivative beneficiaries through a stipulation to the granting of a 237(a)(1)(H) waiver. The Immigration Judge issued an order granting the 237(a)(1)(H) waiver to the derivative beneficiaries, thus ensuring that they would maintain their LPR status.
Throughout the course of the proceedings, the principal beneficiary vehemently denied that he had ever knowingly participated or knew of the employer’s admitted fraudulent conduct or misrepresentations, much less had ever directly committed immigration fraud. Attorney Chicas thus held the DHS to its burden of proof, and due to the lack of evidence offered by the DHS regarding the principal’s alleged direct fraud, the DHS withdrew the fraud charges against him. He still, however, required a waiver in order to maintain his LPR status, and Attorney Chicas sought a 237(a)(1)(H) waiver for him as well. This time, however, the DHS did not stipulate to its granting and the primary issue for the Immigration Judge to consider was whether the principal deserved a favorable exercise of discretion. At the contested merits hearing, the principal testified in support of his wavier and after considering the numerous favorable equities in his case, the Immigration Judge also granted the principal’s 237(a)(1)(H).
The 237(a)(1)(H) waiver is an often overlooked, but powerful relief option for individuals who have been charged with fraud or misrepresentation (whether willful or innocent) in the acquisition of their permanent residence. An LPR may apply for a 237(a)(1)(H) waiver if he or she: (1) has a qualifying family member such as a USC or LPR spouse, parent, son or daughter; (2) had an immigrant visa or valid entry document at the time of admission; (3) was otherwise admissible at the time of admission except for any inadmissibility that was the direct result of the fraud or misrepresentation; and (4) demonstrates that he or she merits a favorable exercise of discretion.

After nearly four years of litigation, this family of four can now rest assured that the underlying validity of their legal permanent residence will not be called into question again. The icing on the cake: the three derivative beneficiaries are now all naturalized U.S. citizens.

ICE Detainer Lifted for JKM Client

This past week Maryland Immigration lawyer Himedes Chicas received confirmation from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)—Criminal Alien Program (CAP) unit that an immigration detainer filed against a JKM client, currently serving a sentence at a county detention center, was lifted.

The ICE-CAP Unit mistakenly placed the immigration detainer against the JKM Client, under the incorrect assumption that he was a Lawful Permanent Resident. The ICE detainer was an impediment to the Client eligibility for work release through the county’s Pre-release Center. After speaking with the Client’s family, however, it was determined that the Client had in fact derived U.S. citizenship under immigration law.

Pursuant to the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, as codified in sections 320 and 322 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, a child born outside of the U.S. automatically becomes a citizen when all of the following conditions have been fulfilled:

               1. At least one parent of the child is a citizen of the United States, whether by birth or naturalization;

               2. The child is under the age of eighteen years at the time of the parent’s naturalization;

             3. The child is residing in the United States in the legal and physical custody of the citizen parent pursuant to a lawful admission for permanent residence.

In this case, the JKM Client derived citizenship through his mother and met all the requirements set forth under that provision. After getting in contact with the officers at the ICE-CAP unit, and providing them with a written explanation and documentary proof of the Client’s derivative citizenship, the detainer was ultimately lifted.
To discuss or assess derivative citizenship claims please contact Immigration lawyer Himedes Chicas directly on his cell at 202.384.2647.

Cancellation of Removal Victory for immigration attorney’s Client

The Baltimore Immigration Court recently granted a client’s application for cancellation of removal following an over four hour individual calendar hearing on the merits of the relief application. The client, who was a 15 plus year lawful permanent resident, faced deportation from the country on account of a drug-related conviction. Following a contested removability hearing, where Immigration lawyer Himedes Chicas held the government to its burden of proof, including filing written legal briefs to the Court, the Court allowed the Client to proceed with his cancellation application. The Client had various criminal convictions spanning over several years, which weighed against the Court finding that he merited a favorable exercise of discretion. Immigration Attorney Chicas implored the Court, however, to weigh heavily the Respondent’s favorable equities, including his vast U.S. family ties and his genuine rehabilitative efforts. The Court agreed with Mr. Chicas and granted the cancellation application, giving the JKM Client a “second chance,” but noted that this was a borderline case. The Court’s granting of the cancellation application not only ensures the JKM client will remain with his family in the U.S., but also ended his over 7 month immigration detention.

Restoring TPS Benefits before the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Associate Attorney, Himedes V. Chicas, is currently representing two different clients who are in the process of reclaiming their Temporary Protected Status (“TPS”) before the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”).

Generally, TPS is conferred to: (1) nationals from select countries designated by the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) who timely register for TPS benefits as authorized by federal regulation; (2) who can prove that they have been continuously residing and physically present in the U.S. as of certain dates designated by the DHS Secretary; and (3) admissible as an immigrant and not ineligible under various provisions of the immigration laws. Those individuals granted TPS after the initial registration period, are required to re-register annually as per criteria set forth by the DHS Secretary and published in the Federal Register. Failure to timely re-register or respond to requests for evidence (“RFE”) during the re-registration process can lead to a revocation of TPS benefits.

One of Mr. Chicas’ clients failed to timely re-register during the last re-registration period; however, the regulations allow for USCIS to accept a late re-registration filing based upon good cause and Mr. Chicas is pursuing this option for his client.

Mr. Chicas’ other client failed to respond to a RFE during his last re-registration period because it was not properly mailed to him. As a result, USCIS revoked his TPS. Mr. Chicas is now moving to reopen this client’s TPS application with USCIS along with the requested evidence establishing his continued TPS eligibility. If you have any questions regarding TPS benefits or eligibility please call Mr. Chicas at 202.384.2647.

Restoring TPS Benefits before the Immigration Court.

Associate Attorney, Himedes V. Chicas, recently convinced an Immigration Judge to grant his client’s motion for custody redetermination resulting in his client’s release under a reasonable bond. Central to the Immigration Judge’s decision was the fact that Mr. Chicas’ client, who has lived in the U.S. for nearly 15 years now, will be prima facie eligible for Temporary Protected Status (“TPS”).

TPS is a temporary form of humanitarian relief (and valid legal immigration status) for certain nationals of select countries, as designated by the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. Currently, TPS benefits have been extended to eligible nationals of El Salvador, Honduras, Haiti, Nicaragua, Syria, Sudan, South Sudan, and Somalia.

Mr. Chicas’ client previously had timely registered and received TPS benefits during the initial registration period, but due to an oversight during a subsequent TPS re-registration period he lost his TPS. Unfortunately, this individual did not ever file a good cause late filing and given the amount of time that had passed since his initial TPS grant, USCIS was unlikely to restore this individual’s TPS benefits. He thus remained without immigration status for some few years now. Following an arrest by local police for a minor traffic infraction, he was placed into removal proceedings.

Now that he is in removal proceedings, the Immigration Judge has the authority to consider this individual’s TPS application de novo¬—meaning the Immigration Judge can now independently determine whether or not Mr. Chicas’ client remains statutorily eligible for TPS. The matter is now set in for an immigration court hearing at which time Judge will determine whether or not to sign an order restoring his TPS benefits, thus allowing Mr. Chicas’ client to recover his legal status and employment authorization in the U.S. If you have any questions regarding TPS benefits or eligibility please call Mr. Chicas at 202.384.2647.

Three JKM Clients Released from ICE Custody.

Over the course of a two week period in February 2014, Associate Attorney Himedes V. Chicas secured the release of three JKM clients that were in being detained in the custody Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)—all of whom were at different stages of their removal proceedings.

Post-Hearing and Post-Decision Release under Stay of Removal: The first client, who was subject to the reinstatement of removal after having been ordered removed by an Immigration Judge (“IJ”) 14 years ago, was granted a Stay of Removal request filed on his behalf by Mr. Chicas. ICE’s granting of the stay of removal request will ensure that this client is able to pursue relief in the form of a U nonimmigrant visa.
Pre-Hearing Release under IJ Bond Order: The second client, a long-time permanent resident, was placed into removal proceedings and ICE charged him as being subject to mandatory detention. In a contested bond hearing before the IJ, Mr. Chicas argued that his client was in fact bond eligible and that he should be released pending his final immigration court hearing. Ultimately agreeing with Mr. Chicas, the IJ ordered his client’s release on a reasonable bond amount. Besides being reunited with his family after an almost one month detention, this client will be able to directly assist Mr. Chicas in preparing his defense to removal and applications for relief to the immigration court.

Post-Hearing Release under Order of Supervision while IJ Decision is on Direct Appeal: The third client, also a long-time permanent resident, had been in immigration detention for over 15 months. After many months of intense, multifaceted litigation—including an unsuccessful coram nobis petition to vacate one of his underlying criminal convictions that prompted the initiation of his removal proceedings and the final merits hearing in immigration court where the IJ considered multiple forms of relief—ICE chose to exercise favorable discretion and release Mr. Chicas’ client under an Order of Supervision (“OSUP”), notwithstanding the IJ’s denial of his client’s discretionary application for relief from removal and entry of a removal order against him. Indeed, even though the IJ ordered this client’s removal, the IJ granted his application for deferral of removal under the Convention Against Torture. Mr. Chicas has timely noted an appeal of the portions of the IJ’s unfavorable decision to the Board of Immigration Appeals. Nevertheless, the IJ’s granting of deferral relief was essential in ICE’s decision to release Mr. Chicas’ client on the OSUP. Though the appeal remains pending, Mr. Chicas’ client is elated to be back at home with his wife, young daughter, and other family members.

Special Visa for Victim of Crime is Forthcoming for JKM Client.

This week Attorney Himedes Chicas received notice from the United States Immigration and Citizenship Services (“USCIS”) that the Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status that he submitted nearly 15 months ago, for his client, who is currently in removal proceedings is in the “queue” for approval.

The U visa category is a special visa category for individuals: (1) who have been victims of certain qualifying crimes, (2) who have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse as a result of that criminal activity, and (3) are willing to help law enforcement authorities investigate or prosecute those crimes.

Mr. Chicas’ client was the victim of a brutal assault that resulted in severe physical injuries that nearly took his life. The perpetrator of that incident was arrested and charged after he was identified by Mr. Chicas’ client. Moreover, thanks in large part to the assistance of Mr. Chicas’ client, the defendant pled guilty to first degree assault. In any case, Mr. Chicas’ client, who himself was facing removal from the United States, now has some assurance that he will remain in the country with lawful status with his U.S. citizen family members and the ability to continue receiving medical treatment for the injuries he sustained.

By statute, USCIS is authorized to only grant 10,000 U visas per fiscal year. For the current fiscal year, which began on October 1, 2013, the U visa cap was met on December 11, 2013—the 5th straight year the statutory maximum has been met since USCIS began issuing U visas in 2008. As a result, Mr. Chicas’ client will have to wait until October 1, 2014, when new U visas become available before his U visa is issued to him.

In the meantime, his case will be placed on the U visa wait list, however, USCIS has granted Mr. Chicas’ client deferred action through the end of the year, and he is now eligible to apply for an employment authorization document during that same time. Mr. Chicas will now move for the immigration court to terminate his client’s removal proceedings in light of this significant development.

Please contact Attorney Chicas at 202.384.2647 is you believe you may qualify for a U visa.

Immigration Benefits Granted to Four Different Clients in Time for the New Year!

Immigration Attorney Himedes V. Chicas helped secure the approval of two fiancée visa petitions filed abroad at two U.S. consulates, as well as a petition to remove conditions on residence (based on the good faith marriage waiver) and an application for adjustment of status filed with USCIS, on behalf of four different clients just in time for 2014.

The approval of the fiancée petitions ensures that the two soon-to-be married couples and their families will be able to live together lawfully in the U.S. One of Mr. Chicas’ happy clients stated: “Due to all of the preparation, the interview was completely painless, we had ample documentation of our relationship, all the forms were filled out correctly, and no other documentation was needed. It was truly a pleasure to work with Mr. Chicas, and I will be leaving his name with the US Peace Corps office (my previous employer) in case anyone else desires to hire a lawyer to aid them through the confusing visa application process. I couldn’t be more thankful (and neither could my new family)!”

The approval of the petition to remove conditions on residence for Mr. Chicas’ client comes after a more than one year processing time by USCIS, including the service center’s issuance of a Request for Evidence and a somewhat contentious field office interview. The approval of this petition secured the client’s permanent resident status and put to rest his unease about possibly facing removal proceedings.         

The approval of the adjustment application by USCIS caps off the client’s over three year stint in removal proceedings before the Immigration Court, and ensures that she will remain united in this country with her husband and family. The client told Mr. Chicas that this was the best Christmas and New Year’s gift that she could have ever received!

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