Our client came to the United States in 2001 on a B-2 visitor’s visa. In 2005 he married a U.S. citizen and sponsored our client’s permanent resident status. Four years later, the Immigration Service denied his application because they believed he married he committed marriage fraud (what immigration calls an INA §204(c) decision). Such a decision is generally treated as the “death penalty” by the Immigration Service and Immigration Judges for any future applications a person might file to seek resident status. As a result of the denial, our client was put into removal proceedings — not because of the fraud the government thought he had committed, but solely because he had remained in the United States longer than he was authorized.
In the meantime, our client divorced his first wife and married another United States citizen. His new wife also filed for his permanent resident status. In June 2010, our client appeared before an Immigration Judge in Dallas. He admitted that he had overstayed his permission to be in the country, but asked the judge to give him additional time to permit the application his second had filed to be processed. Our firm asserted that section 204(c) did not entirely preclude the ability to adjust status because the government was still required to establish substantive and probative evidence that the marriage was not valid.
The judge denied the request for a continuance. One of the reasons the judge cited to was the belief that petition filed by our client’s second wife could never be approved since the Immigration Service had denied his first petition based on §204(c). Our firm appealed the decision to deny our request for a continuance. While his deportation case was on appeal, the Immigration Service called our client and his second wife to an interview in August 2011. As has been our experience, the Immigration Officer with whom we met, took the same position that the second wife’s petition could not approved and the entire interview was completed in less than five minutes. A couple of months later, in early 2012, the Immigration Service denied the wife’s second petition asserting that §204(c) precluded any approval. In turn, we appealed that denial as well.
In April 2012, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) overturned the Dallas Judge’s decision to deny our request for a continuance. In September 2012, the BIA also overturned the Immigration Service’s decision to deny the second wife’s petition. Our client’s removal case was returned to the Dallas Immigration Judge, and in November 2012, we once again asked the judge for a continuance (especially now that denial of the petition had been overturned). The judge did not make a decision whether to grant or deny the continuance for more than a year (thereby giving our client a defacto continuance). When we reappeared in front of the judge in January 2014, the government lawyers agreed to stop fighting for his deportation and the judge administratively closed our client’s removal case.
In August 2014, the Immigration Service re-interviewed our client and his second wife. The officer conducted an extensive and thorough examination of the couple and in the end, he agree to approve the petition.
This case is a perfect example of not giving up even when the government, at virtually every level, says that your case cannot be approved. For the most part, the Immigration Service and Judges make the right decisions. But sometimes, they are just flat wrong, and you have to constantly fight through the barriers they throw up to make them follow the law and get your client the outcome he deserves.