Immigration Litigation, Advocacy & Customized Services
Representation of Clients in Legislative and Regulatory Matters
The experienced lawyers in Seyfarth Shaw's Immigration Group, many with decades of experience in the field, provide services beyond the seamless processing of petitions and applications for immigration benefits. Our lawyers are also adept at resolving significant immigration concerns of clients, through direct outreach in appropriate situations to the regional and national leaders responsible for administering and enforcing America's immigration laws. Whether the problem involves the need for direct advocacy in specific matters or a class of cases, the crafting of comments to proposed agency rules or the suggestion of proposed language for immigration bills in Congress, Seyfarth's immigration lawyers are poised to assist our clients, both directly and through participation in bar committees, trade associations, and public interest groups.
Expert Witness Consulting Services
U.S. immigration law is complex and often confounding to those unfamiliar with the statutes, regulations, procedures, and practices. An immigration expert can translate technical issues into plain English and shed light on the darkest corners of immigration law. Expert testimony is a valuable resource in litigation, disputes or in other matters.
U.S. immigration law includes a long list of grounds of “inadmissibility,” which means that an individual can be denied admission to the United States as either a nonimmigrant or an immigrant and can be denied adjustment of status (“green card”). This list includes both non-criminal and criminal grounds. The non-criminal grounds include previous immigration violations, unprosecuted acts of misrepresentation, certain medical conditions, insufficient financial support, application of the two-year home residency requirement for J-1 visa holders and security-related issues. Criminal grounds include both the commission and conviction of various crimes such as those involving fraud, perjury, theft, personal violence, and controlled substances. Some grounds of inadmissibility contain exceptions. For example, there is a “petty offense” exception that might apply to certain minor criminal convictions. It is important to consult with a knowledgeable immigration attorney who can determine whether any ground of inadmissibility might apply prior to filing an application or petition with the USCIS or at the consulate abroad.
Waivers of Inadmissibility
A waiver is available to an individual seeking a nonimmigrant visa, which will waive almost all grounds of inadmissibility except those relating to security, foreign policy considerations, and participation in Nazi persecutions. It is within the discretion of the USCIS to grant or deny a nonimmigrant waiver, or an immigration judge in the event that the proceedings are conducted before an immigration judge.
Waivers are also available to individuals seeking immigrant visas or adjustment of status in the United States. There are a limited number of waivers available that cover a narrow range of the offenses that make up the crime-related grounds of inadmissibility. An applicant for an immigrant visa also can seek a waiver of prior fraud or misrepresentation, certain medical conditions, and the two-year home residency requirement for J-1 visa holders. These waivers require the applicant to have a qualifying relative ( U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident) who will suffer hardship if the waiver is not granted. Such waivers generally require a clear explanation of eligibility and extensive supporting documentary evidence.
Immigration Consequences of Criminal Matters
Conviction of criminal charges can have serious consequences for nonimmigrants and immigrants. As the result of certain convictions, individuals already admitted to the United States could be faced with grounds of deportability that could lead to removal from the United States and lengthy, perhaps permanent, bars to returning to the United States. The list of criminal activities that could lead to deportation is long and complicated. Convictions for relatively minor crimes, including misdemeanors, can subject an individual to deportation. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is increasing its cooperation with police and local authorities to identify people who have been convicted of offenses that constitute immigration violations and are subject to being placed in removal (formerly known as deportation) proceedings.
Once an individual is placed in removal proceedings, the result of the proceedings is not foregone. The individual is given an opportunity to challenge the charges made by the government before an immigration judge, and appeals are available to challenge the conclusions reached by the immigration judge. Waivers are also available for criminal grounds of deportation, particularly where the conviction occurred many years ago.
Litigation Remedies: Federal Court Review
There are times when, despite the filing of a well-documented, fully approved case, the government improperly denies the requested immigration benefit. When that happens, and administrative remedies have been exhausted, companies and individuals are increasingly achieving success by asking a federal district court or appeals court to reverse an immigration agency’s erroneous decision. Seyfarth Shaw’s Immigration Group has substantial experience in representing immigration clients who request relief under the Administrative Procedures Act and other federal laws for agency conduct that is contrary to law, unfair or improper. If an essential foreign-born employee is unlawfully denied a requested immigration benefit or a critically important project is jeopardized because of wrongful agency conduct, consult with one of our immigration lawyers to see whether federal court action is advisable.