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United States District Court for the District of Maryland
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Bar Association of Montgomery County, Maryland

Immigration Case Summaries - 2013

September 17, 2013

Case summary: Client approved for his Naturalization after being denied for lack of physical and continuous residence

About a year ago, our office was retained by a client who was denied his Application for Naturalization. He was originally from Jamaica and had obtained his Legal Permanent Resident Card (commonly called a Green Card) through his mother at the age of twelve (12). He resided in the US for a few years and then returned to his home country of Jamaica to pursue his education.

Our client spent approximately eighteen (18) years abroad in Jamaica, until he returned to the US in 2008. Upon his return to the US, he was inspected at the airport and admitted into the US. That same year, without consulting an attorney, he filed for naturalization. His petition was denied by USCIS for not maintaining sufficient physical and continuous presence in the US.

Physical presence is the time that an individual physically resides in the US. USCIS has established a minimum number of days required to stay in the US to be eligible to apply for naturalization. Immigration law requires an individual to have a minimum of thirty (30) months of physical presence in the US within the past five (5) years. However, if naturalization is based on marriage to a US citizen, immigration law requires that you spend a minimum of eighteen (18) months within the past three (3) years in the US.

Continuous residency, on the other hand, is established by an individual spending a greater amount of time in the US, than abroad. Traditionally, staying six (6) months or more outside the US, will interrupt the continuous residency required to apply for naturalization. If an individual resides a year or more outside the US, Immigration Services presumes that the individual has abandoned their legal permanent resident status.

Our immigration attorneys thoroughly reviewed and assessed our client’s file. Our client was at risk for being placed in removal proceedings, in immigration court, for having abandoned his legal permanent resident status. After he spent the requisite time in the US we reapplied for his naturalization. His application was an uphill battle as it required proof that our client did not have the intention to abandon his legal permanent resident status when he left the US and resided in Jamaica for eighteen (18) years. Our office was able to make a compelling argument and was able to convince Immigration Services to grant this petition. Within five (5) months of his application, our client was naturalized to a US Citizen. Eight (8) months after he naturalized, we were able to get his spouse of five (5) years, her legal permanent resident card.

If you are dealing with a similar immigration problem and you do not know where to turn, contact the Law Offices of Anthony A. Fatemi as soon as possible to set up a consultation. Our experienced, qualified, and knowledgeable immigration attorneys will not only help you to navigate the complicated immigration laws, but will also support you through this difficult journey that you should not have to embark on alone.

July 10, 2013

Case summary: Client approved for her ten year green card after enduring a two year long battle with USCIS in court

About two years ago, our office was retained by a client who was involved in a complicated immigration matter. She was originally from Jamaica and had obtained her Conditional Legal Permanent Resident card (commonly called a conditional green card) through marriage to a US citizen. Conditional green cards are valid for two years at which time the person must apply to remove the condition.

All on her own, without the assistance of a knowledgeable and experienced immigration attorney, the client had applied to remove the condition by filing an Application for Removal of Conditions (Form I-751). The client and her husband attended an interview with a USCIS officer and during the interview they were unable to answer even the most basic questions about each other raising the officer’s suspicions about the legitimacy of the marriage.

The client came to our officer shortly after the first interview with the USCIS officer. Our experienced immigration attorneys prepared the client and her husband to attend a second interview and also collected additional evidence to corroborate the Parties’ testimony. At the interview, our attorneys made creative and persuasive arguments to explain any inconsistencies between the client and her husband’s answers.

During the second interview, as well as subsequence third interview, the officer revealed that he had received information that the Parties’ marriage was sham – done only to help the client obtain a green card. However, the officer and his supervisors refused to disclose the name and contact information for their source so that our attorneys could conduct their own investigation and independent interview with the person.

Ultimately, the client’s application was denied and she was placed in removal proceedings before the Immigration Court. By that time, the ongoing stress of dealing with USCIS and not knowing if her application would be approved had taken a great toll on the client’s marriage. She and her husband made the tough decision to separate and file for divorce.

Upon learning that the client wished to end her marriage, our attorneys immediately instructed her to file for divorce in the Maryland state court. Due to the conflict of interest, our office was unable to represent her in her divorce matter, but referred her to an experienced family law attorney who was able to bring a quick and favorable resolution to the divorce proceedings.

Because the client was in removal proceedings before the Immigration Court, our office quickly moved forward with a unilateral petition to removal conditions on her green card. Our attorneys worked diligently to file the necessary paperwork with USCIS and Immigration Court and to provide overwhelming evidence that the client was engaged in a legitimate marriage that consequently fell apart due to irreconcilable differences.

While USCIS was reviewing the unilateral petition and evidence, the client was required to appear in front of the Immigration Judge. Our attorneys attended every hearing with the client and encouraged her to never give up hope despite how long the process was taking. In between the hearings with the Judge, our attorneys and immigration paralegal were in constant contact with the USCIS officer and his supervisor. During every telephone call, our office demanded a favorable and speedy resolution to our client’s case.

Additionally, each time our attorneys appeared before the Judge, they argued that USCIS had more than enough time to review the petition and corroborating documentation. Eventually, due to our persistence, diligence, and persuasive arguments, the Judge also grew frustrated with the USCIS officer’s management of this case. In an unprecedented step, the Judge administratively closed the client’s case.

On July 10, 2013, our office received the news that we had been waiting years to give to our client – she was going to receive her 10 year green card. The client was ecstatic – not only was she finally on her way to becoming a US citizen, but she had the constant support and encouragement of our attorneys and staff which had enabled her to make it through this long process. She didn’t have to go through this process alone and that helped her to never give up hope.

If you are dealing with a complicated immigration matter and you don’t know where to turn, contact the Law Offices of Anthony A. Fatemi as soon as possible to set up a consultation. Our experienced, qualified, and knowledgeable immigration attorneys will not only help you to navigate the complicated immigration laws, but will also support you through this difficult journey that you shouldn’t have to embark on alone.

June 10, 2013

Case summary: Client approved for a green card on a marriage based petition despite residing in a different state than her spouse for many years

In the summer of 2011, a client came to our office in desperate need of assistance with an immigration matter. In 2003, the client had arrived in the United States from Kenya on a diplomatic visa (specifically an A2 visa). She overstayed her visa, which means she remained in the US after her visa expired.

Many years later, the client met and later married a US citizen. In May 2010, she filed for her Legal Permanent Resident card (commonly referred to as a green card) on the basis of her marriage to a US citizen (I-485 – Application to Register as a Legal Permanent Resident). After conducting an interview with the client and her husband, the USCIS officer assigned to her case had suspicions that this was not a valid marriage.

Strongly suspecting that the client and her husband had only gotten married in order for the client to obtain her green card, the officer conducted a surprise field inspection at her home. The officer wanted proof that her husband was in fact living in the same home. He was looking for the husband’s personal belongings – clothing, toiletries, photos and other mementos. Finding that the husband was not present and neither were any of his belongs, the officer issued the client a Notice of Intent to Deny (also called a NOID).

The client arrived at our office with a copy of the NOID. She was petrified - first because she didn’t entirely understand what the NOID was and second because she thought she was going to be removed from the US and taken away from her husband and the life she had worked hard to create here.

After speaking with the client, our experienced immigration attorneys calmed her fears by explaining step by step what would happen next. First, our attorneys conducted their own extensive interviews with both the client and then with her husband. After conducting these interviews it became immediately apparent what the problem was.

As the officer had suspected, the Parties were not living together when the surprise field inspection was conducted. But this wasn’t because their marriage was a sham – it was because this was the only way they could financially support themselves. During the duration of the marriage and due to the severe economic crisis the US experienced, the husband was only able to secure a full time job in Virginia. Because of the job’s hours, he had to live in Virginia in order to make it to and from work on time. Meanwhile the client continued residing in Maryland in order to keep her own steady full time employment. Without both incomes, the Parties would have been unable to financially provide for all the basic necessities that they needed.

Now having a full and complete understanding of the issue that caused the officer to deny this case, our immigration attorneys drafted and filed a persuasive and thorough response to the NOID. Based solely on our response, instead of denying the case had he had originally intended to do, the officer issued a request for additional evidence that would prove this was a legitimate marriage.

Upon receiving the request for more evidence, our attorneys worked diligently with the client to obtain copies of each and every document that would help to prove their marriage was real and legitimate. Our attorneys collected bank statements and credit card statements to show our client and her husband had joint finances. They collected photographs and copies of all communications between the Parties including emails, text messages, and phone records to show that even though they were not living together, they still had constant contact with each other on a daily basis and saw each other whenever possible. Our attorneys also collected affidavits from friends and family members willing to state under oath that the marriage was real.

Despite receiving the abundance of evidence our office had collected and provided, the officer was still slow in making a final decision. However, our office never let up and kept pushing the officer to make an expedited favorable decision based on the evidence he now had in his possession. Our attorneys scheduled and attended several info passes, which are essentially in person meetings with USCIS to check on the status of the case. In addition, our immigration paralegal and attorneys bombarded the officer with phone calls and messages.

The persistence of our office finally paid off – only a few short weeks ago, on June 19, 2013, our client received an approval of her application. She is now a Legal Permanent Resident (green card holder) and one step closer to eventually obtaining her dream of becoming a US citizen.

If you or your spouse are facing a similar situation, the involvement of a skilled and experienced immigration attorney early on is paramount to ultimately receiving the favorable outcome you hope for. Contact the attorneys of the Law Offices of Anthony A. Fatemi as soon as possible to schedule a consultation. Our immigration attorneys are happy to discuss how we can help you the same way we helped this client and her husband.

May 8, 2013

Case summary: Client’s Application for Naturalization granted despite participating in local, state and federal elections as a Legal Permanent Resident (Green Card holder)

A potential client came to our office seeking our assistance in obtaining his U.S. Citizenship through the Naturalization process. The client was originally from Lima, Peru and came to the United States when he was just a teenager. He had obtained his Legal Permanent Residence (green card) when he was 31 years old through his U.S. Citizen (“USC”) spouse. Client was now interested in becoming a U.S. citizen.

Once our office was retained, we initiated a thorough background check as is our general practice and standard. This is done with all of our clients to ensure our office has the full and complete picture of each client’s background.

It is our experience that any and all information, whether derogatory or not, should be revealed to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”). When applying for citizenship, it is best to disclose all the information that USCIS is asking for on the application. One cannot hide information from USCIS because they will always find it. This is true even if the particular incident or circumstances occurred many years ago and the client doesn’t think anyone knows about it.

If a person fails or refuses to provide all the requested information, once USCIS learns of the truth, they will use the fact that the person lied or omitted relevant facts against him or her. Failing to fully disclose or omitting important facts increases the likelihood that a case will ultimately be denied. Therefore, our office always advises all of our clients to be completely honest when dealing with USCIS.

When a client has derogatory information or an incident in his or her past, our office has found it is best to not only disclose that information, but to also provide a thorough explanation to mitigate the derogatory information’s impact. This way, the client remains credible in the eyes of the Immigration Officer.

At the time of filing his Application for Naturalization, this particular client was married to a USC wife and had two US born children. He was employed at a reputable international company in Bethesda, Maryland and had always been an upstanding and productive member of the community. Additionally, this particular client did not have a criminal record.

However, our office’s background investigation of the client revealed derogatory information he had not previously disclosed to our office. The client had participated in the local, state and federal elections in 2009. Due to the fact that he was not a US citizen when he voted in 2009, the client had unknowingly committed voter fraud.

After a long meeting with the client, he acknowledged and admitted to our immigration attorneys that he had participated in local and national elections. Once our attorneys explained why voting in the election was improper given his immigration status, the client assured our office that he had not meant to commit voter fraud and had just made an honest mistake.

As stated above, the truth is always the best policy. Therefore, our office disclosed the client’s voter fraud on his Application for Naturalization, which was filed by our office on June 20, 2010. This case was referred to numerous adjudicating officers and had numerous interviews with various Immigration Services Supervisors. During this whole ordeal, our dedicated & experienced immigration lawyers stood by the client, never gave up on him, and encouraged him to never give up hope either.

On April 16, 2013 our office received the news our client had been waiting years to hear -- his Application for Naturalization had finally been granted. On April 29, 2013, our client had his oath ceremony in Baltimore, MD. The client cried when the USCIS officer handed him his Certification of Naturalization. After years of worrying that it would not happen, he had finally become what he always wanted – a United States Citizen.

The following is what the client wrote to our immigration attorneys to thank them for always believing in his case and never giving up:

“Hi Anthony, thanks for everything you and your team have done for me in this long process.

Here is a copy of my naturalization certificate. Now I can get on with my life in peace and close and seal my past. I look forward to a brighter future with to love to my country, family and God.

All my best wishes.”

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