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Spouse of U.S. Citizen Receives Permanent Residence

From start to finish, Immigration Attorney Himedes Chicas stood by the legitimacy of his clients’ marriage. Indeed, Attorney Chicas received word earlier this month that his U.S. Citizen client’s spousal visa petition—filed on behalf of her Jamaican husband—and his application for permanent residence, were approved by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”). This case, however, not only tested the couple’s patience with the U.S. immigration system, but it also tested the strength of their relationship due to delays and skepticism by USCIS about the bona fides of their marriage.

Several months after the Petition for Alien Relative and the non-citizen’s adjustment of status application were filed, the couple received an interview date at the local USCIS field office. Although they had known one another for several years, the couple had only been married for less than one year and lacked the traditional supporting documents that USCIS looks for in adjudicating these types of cases, they were well prepared and did great during the initial interview. After weeks of waiting for a favorable decision, the couple received correspondence indicating that they had to attend a second interview at USCIS. This second interview—traditionally known as the “Stokes” interview—takes place when USCIS questions the legitimacy of a marriage. The Stokes interview is meant to weed-out fraudulent marriages through probing questions of the U.S. citizen and beneficiary, who are each questioned separately with an identical set of questions. During this process USCIS adjudicating officers are looking for any material inconsistencies in answers provided by each spouse. Even couples who have been married for years would likely find it difficult to prevail in a Stokes interview without adequate preparation.

This was certainly a stressful situation for the JM clients, however, Attorney Chicas spent a good amount of time preparing and reassuring his clients that all would be well. Thus, when the couple and Attorney Chicas attended the scheduled Stokes interview, each spouse felt well-prepared and ease. After the interview, both were impressed that the preparation time had been worth it, as they breezed their way through the interview. A few week after attending the Stokes interview, the clients received correspondence indicating that his case had been approved and the husband was excited to receive his long awaited “Welcome to America Letter,” formally granting him LPR status.

If you and your spouse are looking for assistance in filing for permanent residence please contact Immigration Attorney Himedes Chicas at 202.384.2647.

Removal Proceedings are Terminated Following a Successful Coram Nobis

Montgomery County Immigration Attorney

Immigration Attorney Himedes Chicas and Criminal Attorney Rand Lucey teamed up to prevent the deportation of a longtime Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR). The JM Client was placed into removal proceedings and held in immigration custody on account of a nearly 15 year old criminal conviction. Attorney Chicas first convinced an immigration judge in Baltimore to reduce his Client’s bond to a reasonable amount that his family could afford to post in order to avoid detention during the pendency of the removal proceedings. Following the posting of the immigration bond and release from immigration detention, Criminal Attorney Rand Lucey worked with the client and determined that the underlying criminal conviction plea had not been entered into knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily as required by law. He thus filed a coram nobis petition with the appropriate Maryland Circuit Court and a Maryland Circuit Court Judge entered an order vacating the conviction just in time for the client’s first non-detained master calendar hearing. At the hearing, Attorney Chicas filed a motion to terminate and after getting concurrence from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the immigration judge entered an order terminating the removal proceedings against the JM client. He and his family are grateful that they can put this chapter in their lives behind them and the JM client vowed never again to make mistakes that would jeopardize his LPR status.

Naturalization and Adjustment of Status Granted to Deserving Clients

Earlier this month Immigration Attorney Himedes Chicas, successfully represented several clients before the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services Baltimore Field Office. With the help of Attorney Chicas, one of his clients, a Legal Permanent Resident for several years is now a United States Citizen. Mr. Chicas argued that notwithstanding prior criminal charges filed against the Client in the last five years, he could establish the good moral character requirement needed to be accorded the privilege of United States citizenship. The Client is elated to be granted the high honor of proclaiming himself as a U.S. citizen!

Also earlier this month, Attorney Chicas successfully helped a United States citizen petition for his Honduran wife to become a lawful permanent resident. After several months of waiting for an interview, Mr. Chicas and his client’s attended the interview and were shortly after given the great news that the immigrant visa petition was granted and that her adjustment application was also approved. The clients are eagerly waiting to receive their legal permanent resident card and live their life as husband and wife together in the United States.

Cancellation of Removal Granted to JM Client after Months in ICE Custody

Baltimore Immigration Attorney

Maryland Immigration Attorney Himedes Chicas, successfully represented his client, a Jamaican national, before the Baltimore Immigration Court in an application for cancellation of removal. Mr. Chicas’ client, a longtime Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) was placed into removal proceedings on account of two older convictions for drug possession and two older convictions for possession of paraphernalia. After being denied bond by the immigration judge, the prospect for relief from removal appeared dire because of his ineligibility based on the stop-time rule. The stop-time rule, which was implemented by the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA), bars cancellation eligibility to individuals that, among other reasons, committed certain criminal offenses within seven years of having been admitted as an LPR. During the pendency of the client’s case, however, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals published a favorable decision regarding the retroactive application of the stop-time rule. Indeed, thanks to the excellent appellate advocacy by JM’s Immigration Of-Counsel team, Ivan Yacub and Tamara Jezic of the Yacub Law Office, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals held that stop time rule cannot be applied retroactively to crimes before the enactment of IIRRIA. See Jaghoori v. Holder, 772 F.3d 764 (4th Cir. 2014). The decision could not have come at a better time for the JM Client. Although the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) advocated a very narrow reading of the Jaghhori case and argued that the JM client could not benefit from the Jaghhori Court’s holding, the immigration judge ultimately agreed with Mr. Chicas’ arguments and found that the JM client was in fact cancellation eligible. The Court further agreed that the client, who had been in detention for over six months, had shown rehabilitation and had strong equities that merited a favorable exercise of discretion. The JM Client was released from immigration detention and was able to reunite with his two U.S. citizen children, mother, aunts, nieces, nephews, and cousins!

Termination of Proceedings Granted to JM Client

In a victory that was nearly 19 months in the making for a JM client, a Baltimore immigration judge agreed to terminate the proceedings of a nearly 25 year lawful permanent resident who was charged as being removable on aggravated felony grounds for a 2006 statutory burglary conviction in Virginia. After extensive briefing on the legal issues—including the application of the categorical and modified categorical approach to state criminal convictions, that has become hotly litigated before U.S. Supreme Court, the various Courts of Appeal across the country, and the Board of Immigration Appeals—by Immigration Attorney Himedes Chicas and co-counsel Ben Winograd of the Immigrant and Refugee Appellate Center, which included a remand from the Board of Immigration Appeals, the immigration judge in Baltimore concluded that the Department of Homeland Security did not meet its burden of proof in establishing that the respondent was convicted of an aggravated felony. Shortly after the immigration judge’s decision was issued, Attorney Chicas received confirmation that Immigration and Customs Enforcement would be releasing his client, after a nearly 19 month long detention, in time to be reunited with his family and his U.S. citizen fiancé for Valentine’s Day! If your friend or loved one is placed into removal proceedings on aggravated felony grounds there might still be hope for fighting deportation. Feel free to call Attorney Chicas at 202.384.2647 to discuss this type of matter.

Successful Deferred Inspection for JM Client

A JM client was recently required to report to a deferred inspection by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials at BWI Airport, after his arrival into the U.S. from a short trip abroad. Deferred inspections are used by CBP officials when an immediate decision concerning the immigration status of an arriving traveler cannot be made at the port of entry. In this case, the JM client, a Lawful Permanent Resident of the U.S., had previously pled guilty to a single count of second degree assault and received a suspended sentence of over one year. Notwithstanding controlling law to the contrary, CBP officials questioned whether or not this conviction rendered the client inadmissible. The client thereafter hired Immigration Attorney Himedes Chicas, who appeared with him at his deferred inspection to ensure that removal proceedings would not be initiated against him. Although governing regulations limit an attorney’s role to a client during the deferred inspection process, Attorney Chicas appeared with his client and presented a detailed written argument as to why CBP could not establish that his client should be regarded as an applicant for admission based upon any ground of inadmissibility. After several hours of waiting and apparent inquiries to supervising officers and attorneys, CBP agreed that Mr. Chicas’ client was in fact admissible. CBP also returned the client’s passport and LPR card, which they had previously confiscated. JM highly recommends any noncitizen, including green card holders, to speak to an immigration attorney prior to travel if he or she has ever been convicted so as to avoid or be prepared to confront admissibility problems with CBP upon reentry. Feel free to call Attorney Chicas at 202.384.2647 if you have any questions regarding the impact of criminal convictions on your immigration status.

Waivers Granted to a Family of Four

Maryland Immigration lawyer Himedes V. Chicas successfully represented a Montgomery County 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 JM Client

Maryland Immigration Lawyer

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 JM client, currently serving a sentence at a county detention center, was lifted.

The ICE-CAP Unit mistakenly placed the immigration detainer against the JM 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 JM 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 Maryland 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 JM Client a “second chance,” but noted that this was a borderline case. The Court’s granting of the cancellation application not only ensures the JM 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.

Maryland Immigration 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.

Maryland criminal lawyer

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