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No Cancellation if Asylum Filing Was Frivolous Says BIA

May 31, 2019

No Cancellation if Asylum Filing Was Frivolous Says BIA

Author: Deportation Lawyer Alena Shautsova

There exists a wrong practice among Immigration law practitioners (fraudsters) to file an asylum claim on behalf of an individual with the purpose of filing for cancellation of removal later in Immigration court. What happens is that people essentially get “tricked” by these practitioners into believing that they can get away with filing a frivolous asylum case and later, when they transferred to court, they will be able to successfully file for a relief with the judge in a different form. At times, people are not even aware they filed for asylum!

Here is a first point: a person has to file for asylum within a year of his/her entry into the US. If you spent here 10 years and more (one of the qualifications for cancellation of removal), chances are you will NOT qualify for asylum unless certain, very narrow exceptions are met.

Second, an asylum application must have merit: you cannot allege that you are afraid of criminal situation in your country general. This is NOT a basis for asylum. It takes months to prepare an asylum application and thoroughly collect all the evidence; if the evidence is not available you must explain why. 

There is a punishment under the law for those who submit  frivolous or fraudulent asylum applications. 

So, within the past years, there were numerous reports of filing for asylum in order to get a cancellation of removal relief: an application for a green card available to be filed in court only. Now, the BIA held that this practice will be sufficiently abolished: if the Immigration judge determines that the asylum application was filed just so that the person could file for cancellation of removal, the proceedings will be DISMISSED! It means that the person will not have a chance to file for cancellation of removal.  See Matter of ANDRADE JASO and CARBAJAL AYALA, 27 I&N Dec. 557 (BIA 2019). 

If one desires to place himself/herself in removal proceedings, even generally not recommended to do so, he/she should request that the government issue a Notice to Appear rather than submit a frivolous asylum case. This approach might come with less success, but will save time, money, and potentially safeguard from civil and criminal penalties. 

 

FOIA: The Importance of Having Your Full Immigration Record

May 20, 2019

FOIA: The Importance of Having Your Full Immigration Record

Author: New York Immigration Attorney Alena Shautsova

FOIA stands for Freedom Of Information Act and is essential for one’s Immigration case. By filing FOIA request, one may not only receive a copy of his/her Immigration file form an Immigration court, Board of Immigration Appeals or USCIS, but also obtain records of one’s interactions with the CBP at the border; receive notes about one’s testimony during his/her Asylum interview and obtain records from the Stokes interview.

A response to FOIA has to be current: if you received a “CD” (the government usually delivers responses to FOIA requests on CDs) in the past but since then had some immigration history: forms filed, a decision made, etc, you need to obtain a “fresh” FOIA response.

One of the most overlooked and underused FOIA requests is an OBIM FOIA: U.S. Office of Biometrics Identity Management (“OBIM,” formerly US-VISIT). Basically, if you would like to receive your files regarding interactions with the Border Patrol officials, you need to file a request for FOIA with OBIM. OBIM requests may be submitted by letter request; Form G-639 by mail, fax, or email; or electronically through the DHS Online Request Form. They should include an original fingerprint card or A-number.

Another important source of information is CBP. A request for records to the CBP may reveal:

Apprehensions and detentions at the border: • Interactions with CBP at the border or in the interior • Form I-94 records • Voluntary return records • Records of entries and exits xi • Expedited removal orders • Advance parole records obtained through CBP.

Unfortunately, the government does not have to disclose all the information. Often,  important information is being withheld according to the provisions allowing the government not to share information that they use for investigation purposes, for example. If, however, an adverse decision is made in one’s case, he/she is entitled to have an opportunity to review and respond to the adverse information in the file.

Finally, often, as a result of the lawsuits, the government is forced to share previously withheld information. What was not available 8 years ago, now, may be available, in other words. If you are seeking to “fix” an old Immigration problem, a FOIA request is a must. It takes several months before you receive a response, but the wait is worth it. Through FOIA you can also obtain copies of lost documents; information regarding old filings that potentially can qualify you for an Immigration benefit; and, of course, information that was filled in the forms which can be checked for accuracy.

If you need assistance in obtaining your files, please call 917-885- 2261 for an appointment.

Administrative Closure v. Termination of Immigration Proceedings

January 30, 2018

new-york-supreme-court

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.

 

How to Avoid Mistakes While Representing Yourself in Immigration Court

March 3, 2016

How to Avoid Mistakes While Representing Yourself in Immigration Court

Author: New York Immigration lawyer

You ended up in Immigration court and do not know what to do…

The easy answer to this situation would be “hire an attorney!”, but sometimes an individual cannot afford an attorney, or believes that the first portion of a case can be done pro-se to reduce attorney’s fees.

First, if you cannot afford an attorney, try your best to find a low-bono or a pro-bono one. Some non-for profit organizations are offering free legal services, and local bar associations cab direct you to the pro-bono lawyers in the area. Also, law schools have legal clinics that take different type of matters and can help you as well.

However, if you are “stuck” by yourself, here are some tips.

  1. Stay away from FRAUD. As tempting as it can sound, or as persuasive as an “uncle” promised it to be, lying on Immigration applications and in Immigration court is never a good idea. It does not mean that you cannot advocate on your own behalf, explaining the impact of certain events and providing your point of view and research, let’s say, on country conditions. But, stating something that you know is not true, for purpose of obtaining Immigration benefits will make you permanently inadmissible into the United States.
  2. Read available memos, cases and practices and procedures. It is not easy, but it is not a rocket science. Start with the Immigration Practice Manual which outlines the basics of Immigration court procedures. Some non-for –profits publish excellent resources on various topics, such as U visas, VAWA, asylum, Cancellation or Removal… Those resources are available on Google and are free!
  3. Another common error encountered when dealing with former pro- se clients, is that they give too much information in there affidavits in support of their claims (If they submit one to begin with). The old saying, keep it simple goes a long way for affidavits. Focus on the reason you are writing the affidavit: if it is submitted, to prove a bona fide marriage write about your relationship and how it developed. It is always better to be concise and allow for later expansion of your testimony.
  4. At last, remember that each and every word is transcribed. Speak clearly and think before answering questions. Refrain from any type of vulgarity, and show respect to the judge who ultimately decides whether or not you are going to stay in the U.S, and the prosecutor. When you speak before the court, or to the prosecutor, your words have value. Trying to exemplify your knowledge of the English language is helpful at times to show the Judge you have a desire to learn the language of the country, but if you are not sure of the definitions of your words you are using, refrain from using them. One such example, is the word “moot”: the definition of the word in the Webster’s dictionary differs significantly from the meaning the courts give to this word, and without knowing it, one may misunderstand the entire proceedings.

And now, some practical tips:

 

  1. When you use ASYLUM as defense from removal, after you are asked to designate a country to be removed to in the event of denial of your case, you should respectfully decline to do so. The idea is that there is no country in the world where you feel safe, and hence, you do not wish to be removed to any country.
  2. Make sure your documents are filed on time, preferably before the deadline or a “call up date”.
  3. Check the status of your fingerprints: if possible, ask to expedite the clearance, and make sure nothing on your end is holding up the process.
  4. If you filed your asylum application with the Court and not USCIS, you must follow special procedure for ordering your own fingerprints by filing first three pages of I-589, and a copy of the instructions with USCIS. This is the only time fingerprints are not automatically ordered for you, but without this clearance, your application for asylum with the Immigration court might be denied.

Troubles with Immigration 800 number

April 23, 2014

Author: New York Immigration Attorney  Alena Shautsova

Have you tried to access your Immigration  case information via 800- number (1-800-898-7180)  recently and got conflicting information or did not get through at all?

Do not worry: you are not the only one. EOIR alert that it is currently experiencing a systems outage involving several computer applications including eRegistration and the telephonic case information system (the 1-800 phone number). EOIR hopes to have the situation resolved in the near future!

How can you get your information in the meantime? Try calling local Immigration court, go there or contact your attorney!