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Post image for Juvenile Dependency Order for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status Petition Approved for Guatemalan Client in Cleveland OH

CASE: Dependency Hearing at Juvenile Court

CLIENT: Guatemalan

LOCATION: Cleveland, OH

Our client came to the United States in September 2012 from Guatemala. He came to the United States without the inspection and admission and was caught at the border. After that the DHS released him, but he was placed in removal proceedings. He came to Cleveland, OH to be reunited with his older brother who resides in the Cleveland area.

He retained our office in April 2013 for representation at his deportation proceedings. On June 4, 2013, our client appeared at the Cleveland Immigration Court for his master calendar hearing. Attorney Yu from our office represented him, did pleadings and sought asylum relief. After the hearing, our office also sought other options for our client since he was a minor.

Section 203(b)(4) of the INA allocates a percentage of immigrant visas to individuals considered “special immigrants” under section 101(a)(27) of the INA, including those aliens classified as special immigrant juveniles under Section 101(a)(27)(J). “Special Immigrant Juvenile” includes only those juveniles deemed eligible for long-term foster care based on abuse, neglect, or abandonment.  To be eligible as a SIJ, the DHS’ express consent to the juvenile court’s dependency order is required. Then, the approved SIJ petition (Form I-360) makes a minor petitioner immediately eligible to adjust status by filing an adjustment of status application.

Our client was 17 years old when he contacted our office. In fact, our client was not supported by his parents and had to work in farms to support himself since he was 8 years old in Guatemala. Our client’s sister-in-law, who is a U.S. citizen and lives with our client, would like to be a legal guardian of our client. With our help, she filed a complaint for him to be deemed a neglected child to Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court on October 10, 2013.

The Juvenile court hearing was scheduled on November 26, 2013. Attorney JP Sarmiento represented our client and his sister-in-law at the hearing. Eventually, on the same day, the court found that our client is neglected and dependent and our client’s sister-in-law was appointed legal guardian.

After that, our office filed the I-360 application on December 2, 2013 to the USCIS. The application was supported by a court order declaring dependency by the juvenile court, court order deeming the juvenile eligible for long-term foster care due to abuse, neglect, or abandonment, determination from the juvenile court that it is in our client’s interest not to be returned to Guatemala, and his birth certificate.

Our client’s I-360 interview is scheduled for January 10, 2014 at the Cleveland USCIS Field Office. If the USCIS grants his I-360 application, our office can terminate his proceedings with the Immigration Court. Once it is terminated, our client can file his adjustment of status application.

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Post image for VAWA Cancellation of Removal Approved for Colombian Client in New York NY

CASE: VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) Cancellation of Removal

CLIENT: Colombian

LOCATION: New York Immigration Court in New York City, NY

Our client came to the United States in 1994 with a valid J-1 visa from Colombia. After her J-1 status expired, she remained in the United States. She married her U.S. citizen husband in October 2006. However, her marriage to her ex-husband turned to be very abusive and her marriage ended in divorce in 2009.

She suffered a lot throughout her marriage due to the physical violence and mental abuse she experienced from her ex-husband. She has longstanding medical issues as well. She has low thyroid function due to an auto-immune disorder which requires regular supplementation of the thyroid hormone. Our client also has Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, a very serious auto-immune disorder which in her case has manifested as a severe and sometimes disabling inflammatory arthritis. She is also diagnosed with thyroid cancer which appeared in 2006.  She already had three surgeries for her cancer and she is taking medication and mild chemo-therapy. She was having a hard time without any valid immigration status.

She contacted our office in July 2011 when she was served a Notice to Appear (NTA) for her immigration law violation. After careful review of her case, we determined that she is eligible for VAWA cancellation relief at the immigration court.

INA Section 240A(b)(2) provides that the applicant for VAWA cancellation of removal must:

  • Have been battered or suffered extreme cruelty by a spouse who is or was a USC or LPR;
  • Have been present physically in the United States for three years before applying;
  • Be a person of good moral character during the period of physical presence;
  • Not have been convicted of an aggravated felony;
  • Not be inadmissible or deportable due to certain criminal, security, or marriage fraud violations; and
  • Demonstrate that removal would result in extreme hardship to the applicant.

The case originated in Buffalo, NY, but venue was later changed to New York City. Our client appeared at the New York Immigration Court on January 13, 2012 for her initial master calendar hearing. Our attorney represented her at the hearing, did pleadings and sought for VAWA cancellation relief. After the Master Calendar Hearing, the Court scheduled an individual hearing date on April 30, 2013.

Our firm worked with our client and her friends and family members for the application and supplemental documents. We gathered a lot of her documents regarding her former spouse’s abuse, medical documents and extensively worked on our client’s affidavit. We also contacted our client’s friends for supporting documents and letters of support.

In preparing our client for the Individual Hearing, Attorney Yu talked to our client through conference calls several hours each time. Our firm eventually was able to gather supporting documents and prepared supplemental evidence with multiple exhibits, and arranged them pursuant to the specific elements of VAWA Cancellation.

At the Individual Hearing on April 30, 2013, Attorney Yu represented our client at the New York Immigration Court in New York City, NY. Testimony then followed and we questioned our client extensively on the abuse and hardship factors of her case. Attorney Yu questioned her regarding her length of residence in the U.S., her medical condition, physical and mental suffering that she experienced from her previous marriage, employment history, educational history, family issues and hardships to her and her family members if she was to be deported to Colombia. Our client was prepared, was very consistent, and was honest in her answers.  After direct examination, the DHS counsel only asked a few more questions.

After the hearing, the Immigration Judge determined that he could not issue a decision due to the unavailability of the quota.  Under INA Section 240A(e)(1), Congress limited the number of cancellation applicants who may adjust status to lawful permanent residence each year to only 4,000. Thus, she had to wait until October 2013 when the annual quota resets.

In the end, the New York Immigration Court granted our client’s VAWA cancellation of removal relief on December 2, 2013. It was a tough call and our firm was very happy for our client. She has been here since 1994 and suffered a lot in the past. Nevertheless, she finally is a green card holder.

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Post image for Despite Alien Smuggling Conviction, Cancellation of Removal for LPR Approved for Guatemalan Client in El Paso Texas

CASE: Cancellation of Removal for Permanent Residents

CLIENT: Guatemalan (Green card holder)

LOCATION: El Paso Immigration Court in Texas

Our client came to the United States in 1987 when she was a child. Through INA Section 245i, she got her green card in 2001.  She has been in the US ever since. She has seven U.S. Citizen children and most of her immediate family members are either U.S. Citizen or green card holders.

Unfortunately she was convicted of aiding and abetting someone’s illegal entry in early 2013. Because of this conviction, she was inadmissible and was placed in removal proceedings.  In late March of this year, our client contacted our office for legal representation. We were retained on April 1, 2013. The case at the onset was tough because her conviction may constitute an aggravated felony; however, after the careful review, her conviction did not rise to the level of aggravated felony, and so it was not alleged on her Notice to Appear. This was critical and made her eligible to apply for Cancellation of Removal.

Once retained, we represented our client before the El Paso Immigration Court at her initial master calendar hearing on July 8, 2013. Attorney Sung Hee (Glen) Yu represented her at the hearing and sought cancellation of removal relief for permanent residents.

Under INA Section 240A(a), for a permanent resident to be eligible for Cancellation of Removal, the alien must prove that s/he:

• Has been an LPR (green card holder) for at least five years;

• Has resided in the United States continuously for seven years after having been admitted in any status;

• Has not been convicted of an aggravated felony; and

• Merits a favorable exercise of discretion.

The criteria for favorable exercise of discretion was explained in Matter of C-V-T-, 22 I&N Dec. 7 (BIA 1998). The BIA in C-V-T stated that the factors that the immigration judge must consider when deciding whether to grant cancellation of removal to a lawful permanent resident are as follows:

The positive factors are:

  • Family ties in the United States, particularly ties to lawful permanent residents or U.S. citizens;
  • Residence of long duration in the U.S. (particularly when the inception of residence occurred at a young age);
  • Evidence of hardship to the Respondent and his family if deportation occurs;
  • Service in the U.S. armed forces;
  • A history of employment;
  • Existence of property or business ties;
  • Evidence of value and service to the community;
  • Proof of genuine rehabilitation if a criminal record exists;
  • Other evidence attesting to a Respondent’s good character.

Adverse factors include:

  • Nature and underlying circumstances of the grounds of removal;
  • The presence of additional significant violations of the Immigration Laws;
  • The nature, recency, and seriousness of criminal records; and
  • The presence of other evidence has been indicative of a respondent’s bad character or undesirability as a permanent resident of the U.S.

Generally, the immigration judge must weigh the positive factors against the negative factors in exercising her discretion.

After the Master Calendar Hearing, the Court scheduled the individual hearing date on December 11, 2013.

Our firm worked with our client and her friends and family members for the application and its supplemental documents. We contacted her family members in other states for supporting documents and letters of support.

Our firm eventually was able to gather supporting documents and prepared supplemental evidence with multiple exhibits, and arranged them pursuant to the specific elements of Cancellation of Removal eligibility.

In preparing our client for the Individual Hearing, Attorney Yu talked to our client over conference calls several hours each time. Obviously the central issue in this case would be whether or not our client’s positive factors outweigh the negative factors, with the alien smuggling conviction looming as a very big negative factor.

At the Individual Hearing on December 11, 2013, Attorney Yu represented our client at the El Paso Immigration Court in Texas. Testimony then followed and we questioned our client extensively on the positive factors of her case. Attorney Yu questioned her regarding her length of residence in the U.S., employment history, educational history, family issues and hardships to her and her family members (especially her seven U.S. citizen children) if she was to be deported to Guatemala. Our client was prepared, was very consistent, and was honest in her answers.  After direct examination, the DHS counsel only asked three more questions and agreed to not oppose the grant of her relief.

In the end, the El Paso Immigration Court granted our client’s cancellation of removal relief. It was a tough call and our firm was very happy for our client. She has been here since 1987 but had one bump along the way.  She has reformed, will finish her studies, and will continue supporting her seven kids. It was obviously an emotional moment as her parents, sisters, and friends were in Court.

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Post image for Cancellation of Removal for LPR Approved for Peruvian Client Detained in Cleveland Ohio

CASE: Cancellation of Removal for Permanent Residents
CLIENT: Peruvian (Green card holder / detained)
LOCATION: Cleveland Immigration Court in Ohio

Our client came to the United States in 1992 when he was a child. Through INA Section 245i, he got his green card in 2001. He has been in the US ever since. His brother and mother are both US Citizens.

Unfortunately he was convicted of certain crimes over the past decade. He had domestic violence, theft, DUI, and violation of protection order convictions. Because of these the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) picked him up and detained him in August of this year. He was not eligible for a bond due to his criminal convictions. He was also removable on three grounds due to those convictions.

Our client’s friends and family members contacted our office in late August for legal representation. We were retained on August 27, 2012. The case at the onset was tough. He was not married to a US Citizen. He had US Citizen kids but they don’t live with him. He had family in the US, a US citizen brother and mother, but they both reside in New Jersey. His grounds for removability were also based on three grounds. His only relief was Cancellation of Removal. It was going to be a tough case. We knew it and he knew it.

Prior to his hearing, we visited our client twice in jail. Over the course of the entire representation, our firm’s attorneys visited our client more than five times. Our client appeared at his master calendar hearing at the Cleveland Immigration Court in Ohio via televideo from the detention facility and Attorney Sung Hee (Glen) Yu represented him at the hearing and sought cancellation of removal relief for permanent residents.

Under INA Section 240A(a), for a permanent resident to be eligible for Cancellation of Removal, the alien must prove that s/he:

• Has been an LPR (green card holder) for at least five years;
• Has resided in the United States continuously for seven years after having been admitted in any status;
• Has not been convicted of an aggravated felony; and
• Merits a favorable exercise of discretion.

The criteria for favorable exercise of discretion was explained in Matter of C-V-T-, 22 I&N Dec. 7 (BIA 1998). The BIA in C-V-T stated that the factors that the immigration judge must consider when deciding whether to grant cancellation of removal to a lawful permanent resident are as follows:

The positive factors are:
• family ties in the United States, particularly ties to lawful permanent residents or U.S. citizens;
• residence of long duration in the U.S. (particularly when the inception of residence occurred at a young age);
• evidence of hardship to the Respondent and his family if deportation occurs;
• service in the U.S. armed forces;
• a history of employment;
• existence of property or business ties;
• evidence of value and service to the community;
• proof of genuine rehabilitation if a criminal record exists;
• other evidence attesting to a Respondent’s good character.

Adverse factors include:

• nature and underlying circumstances of the grounds of removal;
• the presence of additional significant violations of the Immigration Laws;
• the nature, recency, and seriousness of criminal records; and
• the presence of other evidence has been indicative of a respondent’s bad character or undesirability as a permanent resident of the U.S.

Generally, the immigration judge must weigh the positive factors against the negative factors in exercising her discretion.

After the Master Calendar Hearing, the Court scheduled the individual hearing date on October 17, 2012.

Our firm worked with our client and his friends and family members for the application and supplemental documents. We contacted his family members in other states for supporting documents and letters of support for our client’s case.

In preparing our client for the Individual Hearing, Attorney Yu visited our client multiple times at the Bedford Heights detention facility, meeting for several hours each time. Obviously the central issue in this case would be whether or not our client’s positive factors outweigh the negative factors. Our firm eventually was able to gather supporting documents and prepared supplemental evidence with multiple exhibits, and arranged them pursuant to the specific elements of Cancellation of Removal eligibility.

At the Individual Hearing on October 17, 2012, Attorney Yu represented our client at the Cleveland Immigration Court. Testimony then followed and we questioned our client extensively on the positive factors of his case. Attorney Yu questioned him regarding his length of residence in the U.S., employment history, educational history, family issues and hardships to him and his family members if he was to be deported to Peru. Our client was prepared, was very consistent, and was honest in his answers. The extensive questioning and detailed testimony of our client took so much time that the hearing had to be continued.

On November 2, 2012, our client’s Individual Hearing was resumed. The government counsel did extensive cross-examination regarding our client’s criminal history and other issues. Also, some of our client’s family members and friends testified as witnesses.

During the closing argument, Attorney Yu argued why our client merits a favorable exercise of discretion according to the C-V-T- factors. The government of course focused on the negative factors in his case, those issues which we mentioned at the start of this success story.

In the end, the Cleveland Immigration Court granted our client’s cancellation of removal relief. It was a tough call and our firm was very happy for our client. He has been here since 1992 but had a few bumps along the way. He has reformed, will finish his studies, and will continue supporting his kids. It was obviously an emotional moment as his mom, aunt, grandmother, and friends were in Court.

He soon will be released, and he will get back his green card.

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For other Cancellation of Removal success stories, please click here.

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Post image for Cancellation of Removal Approved for Kenyan Client in St Louis Missouri

CASE: Cancellation of Removal for Non-Permanent Resident
CLIENT: Kenyan
LOCATION: Respondent resides in St. Louis, MO / Kansas City Immigration Court in MO

Our client retained our firm back in March 2010 from St. Louis, MO. She came to the United States in 1999 from Kenya with a J-1 exchange visitor visa. She has one U.S. citizen son who has serious food allergies, asthma, and eczema, and she has not had lawful status in the United States since her J-1 visa is expired. She was subject to the two-year foreign residency requirement. She was a single mom. The father of her child left her while she was pregnant.

The first thing we did for her was file an I-612 J-1 hardship waiver. She would not be able to adjust status without that. And our firm won the hardship waiver for her.

She was then placed in removal proceedings and on July 12, 2011, our client appeared at her master calendar hearing at the Kansas City Immigration Court in Missouri, and Attorney JP Sarmiento represented her at the hearing and sought cancellation of removal relief for non-permanent residents.

For a non-permanent resident to be eligible for Cancellation of Removal, the alien must prove that s/he:

• Has been physically present in the U.S. continuously for ten years prior to the issue date of the Notice to Appear;
• Has been a person of good moral character;
• Has not been convicted of any crimes that would make her/him inadmissible;
• Her/his removal would cause exceptional and extremely unusual hardship to her/his U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse, parent, or child.

The Court scheduled the individual hearing date on March 14, 2012.

Our firm worked with our client for the application and supplemental documents. We called her several times for supporting documents, and obtained the medical records from her son’s hospital. Obviously the central issue in this case would be whether or not our client has established exceptional and extremely unusual hardship to her qualifying relative, her U.S. citizen son.

As mentioned above, our client’s U.S. citizen son suffered from serious food allergies. He also suffers from eczema and was treated for asthma, though his asthma was in remission for a period of time. Our firm eventually was able to gather supporting documents and prepared supplemental evidence with multiple exhibits, and arranged them pursuant to the specific elements of Cancellation of Removal eligibility.

We arranged the medical documents for our client’s son as well. We arranged all her physical presence documents according to the specific year they referred to, and filed them with the Kansas City Immigration Court. We then prepared the client for her hearing, and focused on the extreme and exceptional hardships her U.S. Citizen son would face.

At the Individual Hearing on March 14, 2012, Attorney JP Sarmiento represented our client at the Kansas City Immigration Court. Testimony then followed and we questioned our client extensively on the hardships her U.S. Citizen son would face. Our client was prepared, was very consistent, and was honest in her answers. She was detailed with the specific medical issues of her son. She testified that her son’s food allergies present a very serious health issue for her son in that he suffers anaphylaxis. However, the Court could not render the decision at the end of hearing due to the exhausted annual quota for Cancellation relief.

On October 3, 2012, the Kansas City Immigration Court granted our client’s cancellation of removal relief. The Court specifically noted that our client’s son’s food allergies, in the aggregate with his asthma and eczema, together with the fact that our client has been a single mother since pregnancy, would be an exceptional and extremely unusual hardship for him should he return to Kenya. The Judge mentioned that food labeling and medical treatment is not as readily available as in the United States. Finally, after 13 years of hard work and perseverance, our client is now a permanent resident (green card holder) of the United States.

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For other cancellation of removal success stories, please click here.

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CASE: Cancellation of Removal

CLIENT: Guatemalan

LOCATION: Ohio

ISSUES: Obstruction of Justice Record, Physical Presence Evidence, Hardship

Our client retained our firm one week before his Individual Hearing. He had two attorneys before who withdrew their representation. For over a year he was unrepresented. Our client claims nobody would take their case for that time. Before he retained our firm, he merely mentioned that he filed for Cancellation of Removal and that his hearing was coming up on October 21, 2010 before the Cleveland Immigration Court.

For a non-permanent resident to be eligible for Cancellation of Removal, the alien must prove that s/he:

  • Has been physically present in the U.S. continuously for ten years prior to the issue date of the Notice to Appear;
  • Has been a person of good moral character;
  • Has not been convicted of any crimes that would make her/him inadmissible;
  • Her/his removal would cause exceptional and extremely unusual hardship to her/his U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse, parent, or child.

We took his case upon asking him questions regarding the above elements. We were not sure if his claim was strong. Our client did not have copies of anything he submitted.

The day after we were retained, we went to the Immigration Court in Cleveland for a file review of our client. We made copies of the file and assessed the strength of their case. We thought at that point it was weak. But we only had 6 days left, 4 business days.

On October 18, 2010, 3 days before our client’s Individual Hearing, pursuant to our client’s request, we filed a Motion for Continuance to allow our firm to prepare for the Individual Hearing and to allow him time to submit more supporting documents. As mentioned, he was not represented for over a year. It was a stretch because the hearing was in three days. Court rules require at least 15 days for pre-hearing motions, but we were only retained 7 days before and asked for Court discretion. We kept following up with the Court but there was no decision for the next two days, understandably so.

Preparing anyway for the Individual Hearing, our firm worked together with the client in the small time we had to prepare supplemental exhibits. We called them several times for supporting documents. The day before the Individual Hearing, there was still no decision on the Motion for Continuance. Our firm eventually was able to gather supporting documents and prepared Supplemental Evidence with 34 exhibits, and arranged them pursuant to the specific elements of Cancellation of Removal eligibility. We arranged the medical documents for each of the three daughters. We arranged all his physical presence documents according to the specific year they referred to, and filed them in person with the Cleveland Immigration Court. We also sent service in person with the Department of Homeland Security. There was no sense in mailing them – the hearing was the next day.

We then prepared the client for his hearing, worked overtime and went over questions several rounds for him and his three witnesses. We focused on the extreme and exceptional hardships his three US Citizen daughters and US Citizen wife would face.  He did not have enough documents as to his physical presence, so we made sure he establishes them through his testimony, the supporting letters that he submitted, and through the consistency of his answers with the witnesses.

At the Individual Hearing, we first made an oral request for a continuance. We explained we were only retained 7 days before, were ready to proceed with testimony, but requested that a continuance be granted if the case would be denied due to some technicality or lack of documentation that could be obtained in a reasonable amount of time. Testimony then followed and we questioned the alien extensively on the hardships his children and wife would face. Our client was prepared, was very consistent, and was honest in his answers. He was detailed with the specific medical issues of each of his daughters. He had a conviction for obstruction of justice but we made sure all the facts are on record to establish that his offense was within the petty offense exception for crimes of moral turpitude, which means despite the conviction, he is still eligible for Cancellation of Removal.

We then proceeded with his US Citizen wife, who also did a good job in her testimony regarding the hardships she and her daughters would face if our client was deported to Guatemala.

At the conclusion of the hearing, the Judge granted Cancellation of Removal for our client. He once came illegally in July of 1998. He never had any status. He worked hard doing random work in factories and restaurants. He married a U.S. Citizen and had three US Citizen children.  A good person, father, and husband, who finally retained an attorney for his Individual Hearing 7 days before its scheduled date. Finally, after 12 years of hard work and perseverance, our client is now a permanent resident (green card holder) of the United States.

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