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Success Story No. 5

Planning Ahead Prevents Deportation Of Brazilian Immigrant Scholar

Elizabeth, a successful Brazilian restaurant owner, wanted to help her brothers, Robert and Victor, become permanent residents.

Her brothers were high school scholars and nearing graduation.

Robert was a senior in high school. He was an “A” student. He would graduate in one month. Victor was a junior in high school. He was also an “A” student and he would graduate during the next school year.

Born in Sao Paulo, they had entered the United States many, many years before. They arrived with their mother who only planned to visit various relatives.

They never left.

Driving to work one day several months before, Elizabeth heard about a new immigration program and wanted her brothers to apply. She went to the local immigration office to find out more details. An officer told her to fill out some papers for them. He told her that they would be mailed a notice when to appear for their interviews.

Just before the law was going to change, her brothers were sent an interview notice.

A few days before their appointment, Elizabeth had set up an appointment at our San Diego immigration law office to talk about her mother’s situation.

She brought her brothers. She also wanted to know a little about the new law.

As she spoke with Carlos, she learned that she was risking placing her brothers in a situation which make their cases more not less difficult to win.

Carlos explained the papers which the agent wanted her brothers to sign were “surrender” forms. They would acknowledge they were living in the U.S. without permission. They would be scheduled to see a judge at immigration court to begin deportation hearings against them.

At first, she argued with Carlos. She refused to accept his viewpoint that going to the appointment might destroy the dreams of Robert and Victor forever.

How could government authorities, she wondered, act in such a calloused manner?

She asserted, over and over again, since she had talked with immigration officers long before, they were obligated to evaluate her brothers’ matters under the law which existed before the new changes took effect.

Carlos would not budge. He insisted there was no guarantee how the cases would be handled. If immigration officials used the new law, her brothers would suffer.

At the end of the meeting, Elizabeth reluctantly went along with Carlos’ suggestions.

But she was not happy the wait for them to immigrate would take so long.

She agreed to file a immigration visa petition for her mother, as well as two separate petitions for her brothers, one apiece.

Nonetheless, she did not like the idea of filing sibling petitions if they were likely to never get used by her brothers. Carlos emphasized the tactical advantage her filing might mean someday in the future for them.

Once her mother received green card status, Carlos noted, she would be able to file a new set of immigration petitions as their parent.

Even though the wait would be long – maybe 5 to 6 years – it would be shorter than if they simply waited for Elizabeth’s petition to be processed by the government.

Moreover, if Elizabeth filed now, the approval date of her petitions would enable her brothers to use this date as a “protective filing date” when their mother submitted new paperwork for them.

Elizabeth was not fully persuaded but went along with the plan.

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Meanwhile, the brothers went to junior college because they could not get into regular state colleges without valid immigration documents. When Robert finished his sophomore year, he quit school to find regular employment.

The next year, Victor, decided to attend a four year university as a foreign student and pay the high foreign student tuition fees.

He graduated with high honors and was accepted to a college on the East Coast for a Master’s Degree program. Again, he enrolled as a foreign student.

In his second year, Victor was involved in an altercation when some roughnecks started to harass his girl friend. He was charged with various crimes. He was too embarrassed to tell his sister. He did not have money to hire a lawyer, so he decided not to fight his case. He pled guilty to a misdemeanor. He was put on probation for a year.

A few months later, while he was in his probation officer’s office, she called the police to arrest him again and turn him over deportation officers. Scared, he finally contacted his sister.

His sister, in turn, called Carlos.

Carlos flew out immediately to Massachusetts to represent Victor at immigration court and to reduce the amount of bail set by ICE.

Carlos assessed the various defenses against deportation and removal available. Victor’s Cancellation of Removal defense seemed weak based on his long-distance relationship with his mother. His mother was not yet a permanent resident.

However, once Carlos learned Victor was already engaged to Prazeres, his girlfriend, Carlos decided to pursue a defense strategy which highlighted their pending marriage.

Prazeres understood Victor’s situation. Her parents were immigrants from Portugal. They were deeply involved in Portuguese-American community affairs, including immigration issues.

Victor and Prazeres had to speed up their marriage date. This still did not take Victor out of the danger zone. But his sister’s protective filing for him, after reluctantly agreeing with Carlos’ advice many years before, saved the day.

Combining that filing with Victor’s marriage to a U.S. citizen, Carlos was able to get Victor’s deportation case dismissed.

Victor remained on the East Coast after graduation from college, again graduating with honors. He and Prazeres now live in New Hampshire, and have three children.

This article, centered on family immigration petitions and deportation defense, is part five of a series on the successes of immigration lawyer Carlos Batara in different types of cases.

Follow this link to read more: Winning Residency Despite Overstaying Visa