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What Happens After ICE Arrest

February 9, 2018

What Happens After ICE Arrest

Deportation attorney Alena Shautsova

Recent news brings worry and anxiety to Immigrants: ICE arrests non-citizens in courts, at work, in their homes.  But what actually happens after an individual is taken into ICE custody? The answer to this question depends on individuals’ Immigration history and the exact reason for the arrests.

Individuals with Prior Orders of Deportation/Removal

If ICE picks up a person who has a prior order of removal/deportation, ICE may either reinstate the order of removal and try to physically remove the person from the US; or, if a person has any possibility of relief from the physical deportation, ICe may issue an order of supervision.  A person would have to file an application for administrative stay of removal and ICE would release such a person on an order of supervision.  If the application for stay is granted, a person will be allowed to remain in the US, wait for the resolution of his/her applications here, and legally work in the US.

Individuals Charged With Aggravated Felony 

If ICE arrests someone who does not have an order of removal/deportation but is deportable due criminal conudct, and especially due to an agrevated felony, ICE may choose to remove such a person using an expedited procedure tool,  and will serve on an individual a “Notice of Intent to Issue Final Administrative Removal”.  If an individual does not successfully contest such a notice, he/she may be removed out of the US without seeing a judge.

Other Cases

In the majority of other cases, ICE will have to place a person in INA 240 removal proceedings where an individual will have a right to present a defense to removal in court before an Immigration Judge. A person is likely to be detained for a month or so until the bond hearing takes place, and then a person will be released (once the bond is paid.) Some immigrants, are not eligible for the bond (but even this law provision has been challenged in courts.)

In many cases, I would say in the majority of cases, long-time US residents may have defenses to deportation/removal. Depending on their exact situation, they may qualify for adjustment of status (with a waiver, for example); cancellation of removal; SIJS benefits (for children); or else.

If you need a consultation regarding possible defenses, please call us at 917 885 2261.


Administrative Closure v. Termination of Immigration Proceedings

January 30, 2018


Administrative Closure v. Termination  of Immigration Proceedings

Author: New York Immigration Attorney Alena Shautsova

I would like to share this article as a little clarification as to what happens in Immigration court (at times) and the difference between two, almost identical decisions (as many clients see them): administrative closure and termination of Immigration proceedings.

In Immigration Court, a person may have various forms of relief, or sometimes, does not have any benefit that he/she qualifies now, but may qualify in the future. Also, sometimes, when a case is pending against a person, he/she cannot apply for a relief, he/she would otherwise qualify for.  For example, a person in removal proceedings, cannot submit he/her application for adjustment of status with USCIS but has to do so with an Immigration Judge (IJ).  A judge has to close a person’s case in court first so that a person can submit his/her application administratively.  Or, in another example, a person with a final order of removal, and an approved I 601A waiver, cannot leave the country without the case being reopened and closed. (If, of course, a person would like to come back to the US after a trip abroad, or if he/she does not want to apply for yet another waiver).

What happens in such situations, that a person’s removal case has to be closed by the judge. But there is a difference in how a judge can “close” a case, depending on the purpose of the closure.

An IJ may administratively close the case: this is not a true closure of the case. An administrative closure simply takes the case off the active court calendar, and a person would not need to come to court for a while (usually it is done to give a person more time to prepare an application or to resolve some other issues that take a long time.) A person with an “administrative closure”, if leaves the country, will be self-deporting him/herself.

An IJ may terminate the proceedings. This means a complete resolution of the case. The proceedings can be terminated with prejudice (it means that the government will not be able to restart the case based on the same grounds); or without prejudice (it means the government will be able to reinstate the removal on the same grounds against the person).

Simply put it, one would want the case to be “terminated” instead of administratively closed. Only those with pending asylum applications, who want to keep an opportunity to extend their EADs would probably prefer an administrative closure instead of a termination.


If you have questions regarding the Immigration court proceedings, reach out to us at  917-885-2261.


TPS Re-Registration Period for HAITI and EL SALVADOR

January 20, 2018

TPS Re-Registration Period for HAITI and EL SALVADOR

Author: New York Immigration Attorney Alena Shautsova

Recently, DHS announced that El Salvador and Haiti will lose TPS protection. It means that hundreds of Haitians and Salvadorians will have to find a different way to stay in the US legally or depart the US.

The US government, however, provided one last extension of TPS for both countries.  TPS for El Salvador is set to expire on September 9, 2019; and for Haiti on July 22, 2019.

It is important that persons who hold TPS currently apply for re-registration timely, not to lose their status before its expiration. the re-registration period for El Salvador  and Haiti is  January 18, 2018 – March 19, 2018. 

Some TPS holders who timely applied for the re-registration for Haitian TPS are still waiting for the decisions on their re-registration applications from 2017. In such cases, a person does not have to submit a new application. But only if the re-registration was applied timely in 2017.

USCIS will issue new EADs with a July 22, 2019 expiration date to eligible Haitian TPS beneficiaries who timely re-register and apply for EADs; the same goes for Salvadorians (the effective expiration day of their EADs would be September 9, 2019).

Existing EADs issued under the TPS designation of Haiti with the expiration date of January 22, 2018, is automatically extended for 180 days, through July 21, 2018. One does not need to apply for a new EAD in order to benefit from this 180-day automatic extension. However, if one wants to obtain a new EAD valid through July 22, 2019, he/she must file an Application for Employment Authorization (Form I–765) and pay the Form I–765 fee.

The same is true for Salvadorians, only their EADs have a different expiration date according to the Federal notices.   DHS automatically extends the validity of EADs issued under the TPS designation of El Salvador for 180 days, through September 5, 2018.

For possible Immigration solutions related to the termination of the TPS status, please visit:





237(h) Waiver May be Available Outside the Entry Restrictions

November 10, 2017

237(h) Waiver May be Available Outside the Entry Restrictions

Author: Green Card Attorney Alena Shautsova

People say that where there are two lawyers,  there are three opinions. And there is a good reason for it. The Immigration law, perhaps, is one of those areas of law where nothing is set in stone, and various courts provide various results in similar situations.

In a recent case coming from the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, the Court decided that 237(h) waiver: the only waiver that may be available in marriage fraud cases, may be applied for not only when the fraud was committed at the time of entry. The Court stated that if the charge of removability is related to fraud, then 237(h) waiver can be applied for!

I have to say that when I was reading the decision, I was curious how a man received a green card in the US not once, but twice, and each time it was a “problematic” application, when there are very convincing cases of people who are waiting for the decisions on I 751 for years. Once you keep reading the decision, you will see that this man had a very sympathetic situation after all, but, of course, the misrepresentation part of his testimony where he “forgot” that he was married to someone else can be excused in only very, very “sympathetic” circumstances.



October 25, 2017


Author: Work Visa Immigration Attorney Alena Shautsova

USCIS has recently announced that it will no longer rely on previous approvals when deciding petitions for extensions of certain non-immigrant work visas.

This new policy will affect L1 petitions the most.

The changes

If previously, when the same company would file for an extension of the L1 petition for the same employee, USCIS would generally rely on the first approved petition to determine the validity and sufficiency of the extension request, now, USCIS will consider each request for an extension as a new petition.

Specifically, the new policy states:

“In adjudicating petitions for immigration benefits, including nonimmigrant petition extensions, adjudicators must, in all cases, thoroughly review the petition and supporting evidence to determine eligibility for the benefit sought. The burden of proof in establishing eligibility is, at all times, on the petitioner. The fundamental issue with the April 23, 2004 memorandum is that it appeared to place the burden on USCIS to obtain and review a separate record of proceeding to assess whether the underlying facts in the current proceeding have, in fact, remained the same. Not only did this improperly shift the burden of proof to the agency contrary to INA § 291, but it was also impractical and costly to properly implement, especially when adjudicating premium processing requests.”

It means that a requestor for an extension will have to resubmit all documents that were necessary to qualify the beneficiary initially, plus more documents establishing qualifications for an extension. Such documents may be, but are not limited to: records of payroll, copies of tax returns, bank account statements, contracts, etc. (The large companies have different requirements).


Federal Judge Blocks Trump’s Third Travel Ban

October 17, 2017

Federal Judge Blocks Trump’s Third Travel Ban

Author: New York Immigration Lawyer Alena Shautsova

Today, on October 17, 2017, A Federal Judge in Hawaii blocked President’s Trump Third Travel Ban.  The third version of an Executive Order that was supposed to go into effect tomorrow, did not work. The judge stated that, sufficiently, this third executive order suffers from the same drawbacks that the previous two did: they are discriminatory and are too broad.  Interestingly, this Third Ban was supposed to cover North Korea and Venezuela.

What is going to happen next is that the parties are likely to meet again in the US Supreme Court.

So far, the human rights activists have won!



US Asylum System is Under Attack

October 16, 2017

US Asylum System is Under Attack

Author: US Asylum Attorney Alena Shautsova

The US asylum system has saved the lives of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of people who would have been tortured, humiliated, beaten, arrested and deprived of all possible freedoms and rights in their home countries.  The system is structured to have two tracks: an administrative (or affirmative) and a judicial (or defensive). It does not provide any interim benefits, except for an employment authorization after six months from the filing of the first application. It also establishes a crucial deadline: one year since entry, that an applicant has to meet in order to file for asylum in the US.

Yet, many, including Attorney General Jeff Session criticize the system. They state that the US allows too many applicants in, and provides them with an opportunity to “game” the system.

The US Asylum system and many of its parts are built on the International Conventions. The most crucial document here would be the 1951 Refugee Convention.  In 1967 followed its Protocol. It is not only the US, but virtually all the countries in the world that drafted and joined this Convention and the Protocol recognizing one huge issue: there are people in the world who need the protection of countries other than the ones they were born in. It happens that not all world leaders and not all people in the world are playing by the rules. There are places with great evil, and we cannot just turn our backs on brothers and sisters and little children that suffer from deprivation and persecution. Hence, the countries agreed to recognize that status of refugees, people who do not want to, or are unable to, to return to their home countries to some very serious reasons.  Therefore, the US, asylum seekers or Immigration attorneys did not invent “asylum.” It is all based on a long history of humankind and International norms.

What differs from country to country is the way various governments implement the International norms. Some, provide financial benefits to the seekers before their applications are decided. Some, allow only an administrative path, without a judicial review.  Some, are not parties to the Convention at all and there is no opportunity to apply for asylum in those countries at all.

What is different about the US, is that it allows one to claim or apply for asylum at the US border, before they enter the country. The procedure is known as a “credible fear” interview. A person comes to the border, surrenders herself to the border agents and states that she would like to seek asylum in the US. Such a person is usually detained. Then, such a person has an interview with an Immigration officer who determines if such a person has a “credible fear” of returning to their home country. If the answer is positive, the person is freed from the detention (often on bond) and can present her claim in the US Immigration Court. In court, an Immigration Judge decides if such a person’s claim will be granted.

Further, in the US, under the Real ID Act, an asylum seeker must present evidence to corroborate his/her claim or provide sufficient explanation if such evidence is missing.  The government, and the Immigration Judge (“IJ”), both challenge the evidence and make sure that the applicant’s testimony is consistent and credible. If the IJ denies a person’s claim, he/she can file an appeal.

Attorney Gen. Sessions recently stated that the US Asylum system is being gamed. It is unclear what exactly he referred to. The US Asylum system is built partially on International law and partially on principles of due process and access to justice.  To deny asylum seekers a fair and just opportunity to save their lives in the US due to fear of fraud, would be the same as to execute every person charged with a crime without giving them a chance of due process and the presumption of innocence.

Finally, the US has very serious consequences for those who file false asylum claims: if a person is found to file a false asylum claim, he/she will be forever inadmissible into the US.



October 8, 2017


Author: VAWA Attorney Alena Shautsova

VAWA stands for “Violence Against Women Act” and essentially allows certain non-citizens to obtain a green card by sponsoring themselves if they were in a qualifying relationship with a US citizen or a permanent resident.  So, VAWA provisions may be used not only by married women but by men, children and certain parents.

One of the advantages of VAWA is that not only it allows a person to sponsor her/himself, but it also “erasers” certain grounds of inadmissibilities, and sometimes even works to waive the permanent bar!

For example, a VAWA beneficiary may receive a green card or adjust her status to one of a permanent resident even if she/her entered the US illegally. The VAWA self-petitioner is not required to show a “substantial connection” between the qualifying battery or extreme cruelty and the VAWA self-petitioner’s  unlawful entry. Also, a VAWA beneficiary who spent in the US more than a year illegally and then left the US and returned back illegally may avoid the permanent bar imposed on regular applicants in similar circumstances, if they qualify for a waiver  under INA 212(a)(9)(C)(iii). No waiver is available for non-VAWA petitioners. 

VAWA petition is, however, not helpful for K visa entrants. There is a mistaken approach that if a person entered the US on a K-1 (fiance) visa, he/she will be able to receive a green card if qualifies for I 360. This is not so yet.  I 360 may be granted, and automatically a person will get a deferred action – protection from removal, but not the green card. The adjustment of status for most such persons will be denied.

Now, persons who are abused or battered but do not have the required connection with a US citizen or a permanent resident, cannot benefit from the VAWA laws.  For example, if X had to flee El Salvador due to a violent husband, she will still be required to demonstrate that she has a legal entry or parole into the US before her application for a green card is granted.


Family Immigration: Who You Can Sponsor

September 30, 2017

Family Immigration: Who You Can Sponsor

Author: US Immigration Attorney Alena Shautsova

The US Immigration laws contain very specific and strict rules as to which family members can  be sponsored (applied for an immigrant visa or green card) by permanent residents (LPR) and US citizens (USC).

All groups of relatives are organized by specific groups, and each group has its own priority.  The priority depends on the status of the petitioner (the sponsor) and the age and marital status and familial relationship of the beneficiary. Each group has its own wait time. Only “immediate relatives” of the USC do not have to wait in the line.  Parents, spouses, and children under 21 years old of USC are immediate relatives.


The US laws do not allow for sponsorship of uncles, aunts, grandparents, and even stepparents in certain situations. Likewise, friends, very good friends, cousins,  aunts and uncles who “were like mothers…fathers…” but actually did not complete the adoption process by the time the person turned 14 years old, also cannot be sponsored.

Permanent residents cannot sponsor their married children, parents or siblings.

US citizens cannot sponsor for a green card their fiances. They can only invite them on a K visa, but will have to complete the process in the US by submitting an application for a green card. Permanent residents cannot invite their fiances at all. They have to be married to the person and apply for an immigrant visa for a spouse of a permanent resident and wait in line for about 2 years.


US citizens can sponsor spouses, children under 21, and parents without additional wait time. Unmarried sons and daughters (over 21); married sons and daughters and siblings may also be sponsored. But for each of these categories, there is an additional wait time after the petition is approved. In case of a sibling immigration, that wait time is about 10-12 years.

LPR can sponsor spouses and children under 21; sons and daughters (over 21 but unmarried olny).

A petition US citizen is filing for his/her parents is good only for parents. Young siblings (little brother or sister) cannot be included in the same petition. In such situations (let’s say a sister is only 10 years old, and would have to stay in China if a mother is sponsored to the US), a mother or father, once they become permanent residents, would have to file for the unmarried, little sister. (Sometimes, it is possible to apply for a parole for a child who would have stayed behind).

A permanent resident may be able to bring his/her family on something called following to join provision, without the need of a separate application/ petition to be filed by the family members if  the relationship existed prior to obtaining the permanent residency, and the green card was obtained under certain categories (DV lottery, employment,  sibling immigration, etc). There is no statutory time period during which the following-to-join alien must apply for a visa and seek admission into the United States.  However, if the principal has died or lost status, or the relationship between the principal and derivative has been terminated, there is no longer a basis to following to join.  As an example, a person would no longer qualify as a child following to join upon reaching the age of 21 years (unless they qualify for the benefits of the Child Status Protection Act, see 9 FAM 502.1-1(D)) or by entering into a marriage.  There is no requirement that the following-to-join alien must take up residence with the principal alien in order to qualify for the visa. (See 9 FAM 502.1-1(C)(2).)  The term “following to join” also applies to a spouse or child following to join a principal alien who has adjusted status in the United States.

If you have quesitons regarding sponsorship ofr various family members, please contact us at or 917-885-2261.

Republicans Propose a Bill to Help DACA Kids

September 26, 2017

Republicans Propose a Bill to Help DACA Kids

Author: New York Immigration Attorney Alena Shautsova

On September 25, 2017, Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC), James Lankford (R-OK), and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) introduced the SUCCEED Act. It is a new law that aims to solve DACA kids’ challenge. The Succeed Act would authorize cancellation or removal and adjustment of status for children known as “Dreamers.”

The proposed law authorizes the government to grant cancellation of removal for those kids who qualified for DACA benefits with a benefit of CONDITIONAL PERMANENT RESIDENCY. The young person has to either earn a high school degree or be enrolled in an educational institution or has served or be enlisted in the US Armed Forces.  In addition, the person should not have certain inadmissibility or deportability grounds be applicable to him/her; should have paid his/her taxes; should not have any felony convictions; a significant misdemeanor; or criminal convictions totaling in incarceration for at least 1 year. The applicant should not have an order of removal/deportation unless he/she remained in the US legally after such an order, or the order was issued before the person’s 18th birthday.

The Act also proclaims that a person who violated the conditions of such residency will be ineligible for any other Immigration relief except for Withholding of removal and Relief under CAT.

This conditional residence status can be terminated if a person is not working for at least 1 year while not attending a school; if he/she became a public charge; gained status as a result of fraud or misrepresentation; etc. If such conditional status is terminated, a person will be subject to an expedited removal.

Only after 10 years, a person will be able to apply for the actual green card, the one without the condition. And once such a person is a permanent residence for 5 years, he/she will be able to apply for citizenship.

This proposal is not the law yet. It is just a proposal that might be a possible solution for the DACA  beneficiaries.