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.

Asylum Application at Fed Plaza

How to Find the “Best Immigration Lawyer” for your Asylum Application or Case at in New York City

So, the other day our office received a call from an individual that had an inquisitive question about finding a lawyer to represent him with his asylum case scheduled to be heard at the Immigration Court at 26 Federal Plaza, New York City.  His question was pretty direct:  “How do I find the best immigration lawyer for my asylum case at the Immigration Court in New York City?”

This was a pretty interesting question.  The reason was because the answer is so subjective and open for debate. We tried to explain to the client that the term “best immigration lawyer” was subjective and depending on both who you ask and what you mean by the term “best” the answers can vary greatly.

The best analogy I was able to come up with for the client was to ask him questions such as:  “Who is the best athlete?” . . . “What is the best car?”

So, if there is no one way to measure the performance of a lawyer, are there some things you can look out for?

In my opinion and experience, there are some questions and inquiries that are worthy of making:

1)  How long has the immigration lawyer been practicing law? 

Although this is an inquiry worthy of making, by no means should this be interpreted to mean that an attorney practicing longer is necessarily a “better” lawyer than someone right out of law school.

2)  How many cases has the immigration lawyer handled? 

Naturally, the more cases a lawyer has handled, the more “experienced” he would be.  However, “experience” is only one criteria.  It is never a substitute for hard work, preparation, diligence, etc.

3)  Does the lawyer have support staff? 

Why is this important?  Well, for one thing, do you think it’s a good idea for your lawyer to spend valuable time doing administrative tasks instead of working on your substantive case?  For example, the average asylum application package in my office usually entails documents that range between 100 to 300 pages. Now to actually file these documents, copies need to be made, the documents need to be put in order, paginated, etc.  Do you think it makes sense for the lawyer to spend time doing this instead of preparing, researching and studying your case?  Obviously, I have simplified this significantly for purposes of this article.  There are many other tasks that support staff, such as paralegals and legal assistants, do extremely well and their contribution to the case is imperative and in some ways parallel the lawyer’s contribution.  I can tell you in my office, the success of any cases is certainly also contributable to my support staff.

The point of this blog is that there is no one way to determine who is “the best immigration lawyer”.  Any such determination is simply an opinion.  One should always make their own inquiry after diligent research.

Arrest, Criminal Case or Criminal Record Issues Related to Deportation or Immigration Court at 26 Federal Plaza, New York City

If a loved one has ever been arrested or had a criminal case, or perhaps even a criminal record, that loved one usually feels that a heavy weight has been lifted off their shoulders  when that case is finally over.

However, at some point that prior criminal case can come back to haunt the person.  Almost every other day, my office receives calls by individuals that had a criminal case many years ago. All of a sudden, they receive notice that Immigration is looking for them or has placed them in Deportation or Removal Proceedings due to that old criminal case.

This usually takes the form of a Notice to Appear commanding that the person appear at 26 Federal Plaza, New York, New York (presuming the person is within that jurisdiction). These people begin to wonder why they have to deal with this again since they already paid their dues to society. I try to explain to them that the immigration case is separate and distinct from the criminal case.

In addition, I let them know that even the simplest criminal charge within the criminal court context may be a very serious matter for immigration issues.

I’ll give an example. I have a client that was convicted of a minor drug offense and just decided to plead guilty because he was allegedly told by his criminal lawyer that it was a slap on the wrist. Well, when Immigration found out after travel abroad, he was placed in removal proceedings and did not fit within any waiver relief (meaning he could not effectively stop his removal). This was shocking to him, and understandably should be. So, what can someone like that do? Well there may be various options. In that particular case, we had to vacate (get rid of / reopen) the criminal case. After doing that, the charge was amended to a non-removable / deportable offense.

Immigration Interview

Immigration Marriage Related Interview at 26 Federal Plaza, New York City

In general, there are two marriage related interviews that are ordinarily scheduled at 26 Federal Plaza, New York City by Immigration – DHS.

When a married couple files a family petition (also known as an I-130 application) in conjunction with a green card application, the couple is generally scheduled for an interview to determine whether the marriage was entered for legitimate reasons.

In support of such application, the couple is expected to bring documents which would corroborate and prove that they reside together.  Naturally, in certain circumstances a couple may have to reside apart, perhaps due to jobs in different cities.  These documents ordinarily are presented for purposes to prove that they share a residence and that they have commingled some assets.  Again, although this may be a general rule of thumb, Immigration cannot force a couple to commingle their assets.  I’m sure everyone is aware that some couples strategically make sure that each retains their own separate assets in order to avoid a nasty divorce proceedings, should the marriage fall apart.  As such, although immigration officers may expect to see these documents, in certain cases, one can and should perhaps educate officers about one’s rights to plan their family and financial structure in a way that works best for them and not in a way immigration assumes they should.

Another type of interview usually conducted in a marriage based petition is an interview that is scheduled to determine whether a marriage is still a valid and viable marriage.  An applicant usually receives conditional permanent resident status if at the time the status is granted, two years have not passed since the marriage was entered.  In such cases, the status is granted for two year and within 90 days of the two year anniversary of being granted the status, the applicant must file an application to remove the conditions (also known as an I-751 application).  When these applications are filed, Immigration may approve the case based simply on the documents presented, or an interview may be scheduled.  These interviews are usually scheduled either because the documents were not convincing or due to a random computer audit.

Do applicants need an attorney for these types of interviews????

My opinion on these interviews is that an applicant should be represented by an attorney.  Why?  These interviews must be conducted fairly and should not be adversarial.  All too often, I will walk by an Immigration officer’s room during an interview and can hear an interviewing officer speak to applicant’s in a condescending manner.  This is inappropriate and in fact a violation of their own manual of how interviews should be conducted.  If there is no other reason, this alone is enough reason to be represented by an attorney during these interview.  Of course, there are many other just as important reasons.

Marriage Falling Apart and Need Green Card (Permanent Residency)?

What happens if someone is married to a green card holder (permanent resident) or a U.S. Citizen and the marriage deteriorates or falls apart before the other person obtains a green card or adjusts their status?

Family sponsored immigration forms a great part of the immigration process. When people enter into marriage certainly the hope is that the marriage lasts forever. “Until death do us part . . . ” However, statistics show that most marriages do fall apart and the reason most of the time fortunately is not death. Well, at least not death in the sense of the end of life. Death most often is to the marriage.

So, what can I do if my marriage is falling apart and I haven’t yet obtained my permanent residence? The answers to these questions usually leads to a host of other questions. In many cases, persons decide to file an abuse related case under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The name is a little misleading because it is not only filed for women. Let’s delve into some?

I’m married to a U.S. citizen, but my spouse is abusive. What can I do?
My answer will be limited to solely the immigration issue. If you are married to an abusive spouse, you should know that you can pursue and file for your permanent residency on your own and without the cooperation of your spouse.

What constitutes abuse to qualify filing for an Abuse Immigration Case?
Abuse can take many forms. The obvious one is physical abuse. However, the abuse can also be emotional or mental abuse, which is very common with these types of cases.

Does the victim have to be female to file an Immigration Abuse Case?
No. In fact, about half of the clients we represent are male victims that are abused by their female spouses.

How do I prove abuse for my Immigration Case?
In most cases, abuse is proven by evidence that is indirect. What I mean by that is that most cases do not have a police report or arrest report of the abuser. Most cases are proven by documents such as statements by the victim or witnesses.

Will my spouse find out that I filed an Abuse Immigration case?
Immigration will not notify the spouse of the filing and filings are confidential

Can I get an Investor E2 Visa for a Small Business or Investment?

Many people assume that only individuals with large investments can get an Investor E2 Visa. This is simply wrong. In fact, I would say about 90 percent of our office’s Investor E2 Visas are for small business. So, the simple answer is that you can get an E2 Investor Visa for a Small Business. As such, the actual investment also does not have to be a large investment.

What type of business do I have to open to get an Investor E2 Visa?

Answer: To apply for an Investor E2 Visa, the types of business are tremendously broad. Just to give you an example, just in the past two months, we have filed and received approvals for business that provide various goods and services. A pool construction, renovation and maintenance business. What is interesting about this business is that it is a seasonal business that likely operates only a third of the year. Another business was a limousine business, with only one vehicle. Yet another business was a small hair salon. The fact is that you do not have to invest a lot of money to obtain an Investor E2 Visa. In fact, the investments by the above examples ranged from $28,000 to about $60,000.

What evidence or documents do I need to obtain an Investor E2 Visa?

Answer: Immigration is very flexible and understands that a business that is first starting out will need some time to get on its feet. However, some evidence of formation, existence and steps toward becoming a “real” business is required. For example, entity formation documents, tax documents, a commercial lease agreement, utilities, etc.

Can my family also benefit from my Investor E2 Visa?

Answer: Yes. Your spouse and children can get derivative status.

Immigration Court located in New York City at 26 Federal Plaza, New York NY

Many individuals contact my office in some major distress because they received a “Notice to Appear” at the Executive Office for Immigration Review (also known as the Immigration Court). Most are unaware of the Immigration Court process and the various agencies involved when an individual receives this type of notice. For example, it is quite common that various agencies within the Department of Homeland Security will be involved during this process. Some of these agencies generally include, the Office of the Immigration Judge, Office of the Chief Counsel (which can be viewed as the Immigration prosecutor) and the United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (which is often the benefit/application branch). These are just some of the agencies involved in these types of matters.

What should I expect or do if I receive a “Notice to Appear” instructing me to appear at the Immigration Court located at 26 Federal Plaza, New York, NY?

One thing you must do is to make sure to appear at the date and time scheduled. If you do not, you may be ordered deported/removed without you being there. This is often called an “in absentia order”. You certainly want to avoid that. All too often clients tell me that they didn’t show up in Court because they were afraid. That is a very bad choice. Being afraid of the unknown is normal. However, there is no reason to take the advice of anyone other than an experienced immigration lawyer that often appears at the Immigration Court at 26 Federal Plaza, New York NY. Once you do appear, your case will be presented before/in front of an Immigration Judge that presides over cases at 26 Federal Plaza, New York City.

Should I or Do I need to hire a lawyer for my case at the Immigration Court located at 26 Federal Plaza?

Unlike the criminal justice system, the government will not appoint a free lawyer on your behalf. In addition, the immigration laws are probably the most complex and ever changing laws within the United States. So, the short answer is yes. I repeat . . . yes!!!! This is not the type of system where mistakes are frequently forgiven. However, I caution anyone against hiring just any attorney that claims to practice immigration law. Be smart, do your own research and make sure to hires someone that often appears at the Immigration Court at 26 Federal Plaza, New York, NY.

Who is the best immigration lawyer at the Immigration Court at 26 Federal Plaza, New York, NY?

There are times when potential clients will ask this question. I think that asking this question is synonymous with asking someone what the best car is? This is often very subjective and many factors will play into the answer. Some important factors include years of practice, type of practice, responsiveness by the lawyer’s office, treatment of clients in a compassionate manner, reasonable lawyers fees, etc. The list can go on and on. However, be smart and make your decision based on your needs and not just simply because someone said “This lawyer is the best.” In my opinion, a lawyer that can and does balance all these important factors and understands that although a law firm is a business, there is a human element that goes beyond dollars and cents is likely the lawyer that will likely be the right choice.

Immigration (ICE) Detainer or Hold Due to Arrest in New York City

Our office is contacted quite often by family members whose loved ones were arrested by police for a criminal offense. The issue of a detainer usually arises when a non-U.S. citizen is the defendant in the criminal case. Although the criminal court may decide to grant bail, often times Immigration through the Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) will issue a “detainer”, which is a request to the jail not to release the person without notification to ICE because of the immigration issue. The key word was “request”. Yes, it is technically only a request and not an order to the officials at the jail. In addition, the request is for a period not to exceed 48 hours, not including federal holidays or weekends. Keep in mind that the issuance of the detainer does not mean that there is an Immigration Warrant. ICE can issue a detainer for simply an Immigration investigation.

Best Immigration Lawyer in Queens New York

What can someone do if there is a detainer by Immigration (ICE) due to an arrest in New York City? The first thing that needs to be done is to make sure the loved one is represented by competent criminal defense counsel and immigration counsel. Sometimes, the issue of the detainer can be worked out with an official from ICE. ICE through the Department of Homeland Security may issue a DHS Bond.

What if Immigration (ICE / DHS) refuses to issue a DHS Bond? If there is a refusal by ICE or DHS to issue bond, one can apply to the Immigration Court for a Bond reconsideration. At that stage, an Immigration Judge will decide whether the person is subject to release through bond or whether the person is subject to mandatory detention. Even if eligible for release on bond, the loved one will need a strong advocate to increase the chances of release on bond and to make a valiant effort to assure the bond is as low as possible.

What should be done when a loved one is arrested by local law enforcement such as NYPD? First try to ascertain the immigration status of the loved one. If the person is a US citizen, there should not be an immigration detainer. If the person is a green card holder (permanent resident), the person can still be placed in removal proceedings depending on the criminal issues involved. In addition, anyone who has violated their immigration status (such as a person with a student visa who has stopped attending school), may also be placed in removal proceedings.

Once you ascertain, the persons immigration status, one must carefully consider any past criminal history to determine the next strategy. Any criminal history may further impact what happens to him as a result of the detainer.

The bottom line is you will need to make sure that an immigration lawyer deals with the immigration issue. My experience has been that when there is both a criminal issue and an immigration issue, the immigration issue usually is the bigger issue to deal with. For example, here in New York City a person without any immigration status and charged with petit larceny (“petty” larceny) for stealing a pair of $30 sunglasses, may have a criminal case against them and an ICE detainer. In that particular case, most likely the criminal case will be dealt with rather quickly by criminal defense counsel. However, although petit larceny is usually not considered a serious offense in the criminal court system in NYC, Immigration officials consider this offense a “crime involving moral turpitude” and may consider such a person deportable for a conviction for that offense, as well as for being illegal in the country. So, the bigger problem to deal with will usually be the immigration issue. All too often, individuals do not recognize this and end up in immigration custody for an unreasonable period of time.

Immigration Arrest and Detention at Hudson County Jail in Kearny, New Jersey

This week I had a person’s loved one contact me to tell me that she was very frustrated and upset. She began to tell me in the middle of the night immigration officers (Immigration Customs Enforcement – ICE) made their way into his home and arrested the boyfriend and took him to the Hudson County Jail. She could not understand why.

She began to tell me the following: Her boyfriend was previously (over 10 years ago) convicted of a gun charge and sentenced to time in prison. He was a permanent resident (green card holder) and had been living here since childhood. In fact, he entered the U.S. almost 30 years ago. His parents and siblings were all in the U.S. and either U.S. Citizens or Permanent Resident. She could not understand why her boyfriend was again arrested for a crime he committed over 10 years ago and for which he paid his dues to society (afterall he spent over a year in prison for that offense). She continued to say that he had been out of prison for almost 10 years and had completed parole. Why would they come after him now? She was very upset and couldn’t figure out what was happening and why the *?&%#!! now???!!!!?!!. (I’ll leave out some of the language used although it was a worthy reaction)

These fact patterns are actually very common in my practice. As such, I decided that perhaps I should write about this topic and address some of the frequently asked questions. So, here it is . . . . .

Who can be deported or removed from the United States?

Essentially, anyone that is not U.S. citizen can be deported or removed. This can include someone that may entered the country illegally (through the Mexico border perhaps) overstayed their authorized stay (a tourist), violated terms of their authorized stay (a foreign student who stopped attending school) or even a permanent resident (green card holder).

How can Immigration (ICE / DHS) deport or remove a permanent resident (green card holder)?

Having the status of permanent resident does not guarantee that you can stay in the U.S. Convictions of certain crimes could cause someone to be placed in removal or deportation proceedings. These crimes can include (but are not limited to) crimes involving moral turpitude, aggravated felonies and controlled substance offenses (drugs). If Immigration decides that an individual has been convicted of a deportable/removeable offense, they can start removal proceedings.

What happens when Immigration (ICE /DHS) decides to start removal proceedings?

ICE / DHS will issue a Notice to Appear requiring the person to appear in front of an Immigration Judge. This can precede or follow the arrest of the person or simply require the person to appear on his own in front of an Immigration Judge.

Why would Immigration (ICE / DHS) arrest someone?

Although this is a loaded question, I’ll try to provide a general answer. Immigration arrests someone if they feels the person is a flight risk, security risk and/or danger to the community.

Why did Immigration (ICE / DHS) wait so long to arrest the loved one?

Good question . . . Although we likely will never know the one answer to the question, I can tell you that the increase in technological advances and databases certainly contribute. In addition, the fact that there has been less enforcement against illegals without criminal history has unfortunately caused a giant increase of enforcement against individuals with criminal backgrounds.

Where does Immigration (ICE / DHS) take someone from New York City after an arrest? Most individuals from New York City are held in New Jersey in places such as the Hudson County Jail or Essex County Jail. Immigration can however theoretically move these individuals anywhere. That is why it’s important to act fast!!!!!!!! I cannot emphasize this enough. Hire a lawyer and do it fast. We have had family members tell us their loved one was sent to Texas before they had a chance to even hire a lawyer.

What is the next step after Immigration arrests someone?

The very first step is to try to have the person released on bond and have them rejoin their loved one. Thereafter, you can fight tooth and nail to try to put the immigration problem behind you.

Applying for Asylum in New York City

Applying and Filing for Asylum in New York City from Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan or Kazakhstan

My office has had the pleasure of representing countless numbers of individuals from the so called “Stan” countries of the former Soviet Union. Many of these individuals have decided to file for asylum due to the persecution they faces and/or will face back home.

What I have learned is that these individuals whether from Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan or Kazakhstan have some similar issues although certainly they are quite different, both in culture and practice. Certainly, if you are looking for an ethnic group made up of people from Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan or Kazakhstan, Brooklyn is probably where you would find these cultures living together.

Immigration Lawyer Queens

Some of the questions that they have raised regarding asylum are quite common. So, I thought it best if I just discuss some of the Frequently Asked Questions:

Can I file for Asylum if I’m from Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan or Kazakhstan?

This questions is a general question and my answer is usually that they can file and nothing stops them from doing so. However, the individuals would still need to qualify for asylum based on certain grounds, which in general include: race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group.

What happens when I file for asylum?

In general there are two methods of filing. The first is often referred to as an affirmative filing, which refers to someone filing for asylum affirmatively, meaning on their own directly with USCIS (Immigration). The second method is referred to as a defensive filing, which usually refers to someone filing for asylum defensively during removal or deportation proceedings. So, if someone files for asylum affirmatively, the person is ordinarily scheduled for an asylum hearing in front of an asylum officer. At that time, the application is either approved or referred to the Immigration Court. If the application is filed defensively, the Immigration Judge will make decision.

Where will my asylum hearing be if I live in Brooklyn?

The asylum office that services individuals that live in any of the five boroughs or Long Island, will usually be scheduled for an asylum hearing at the Asylum Office in Rosedale, Queens, New York.

Will I receive work (employment) authorization?

Generally, a person who files for asylum will usually obtain work authorization after 150 days. However, the calculation of time is sometimes complicated.

What are my chances of winning or approval of the asylum application?

This is a difficult question to answer. A lot of information is needed in order to provide an evaluation of the asylum claim. However, keep in mind that the laws were designed to protect asylum seekers, and the United States has vowed to protect individuals who fear returning to a country where they can establish that they would be persecuted. As long as you work with an experienced lawyer and you can document and evidence your past persecution and/or future persecution, you will have USCIS (Immigration) and/or an Immigration Judge give you the opportunity to present your case.