Maryland immigration lawyer Himedes V. Chicas successfully represented a Montgomery County family of four in removal proceedings, fighting to ensure that they would all remain in the United States as lawful permanent residents. The family was collectively placed into removal proceedings following a federal investigation into the fraudulent activities of an unscrupulous employer that had sponsored the principal beneficiary for an employment based immigrant visa more than eleven years ago. Due to that employer’s admitted fraud, it was alleged that the principal beneficiary in this case had also directly committed immigration fraud in obtaining his immigrant visa. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) therefore charged the principal’s immigrant visa as being invalid and placed him into removal proceedings. As the other three family members were derivatives of that family member’s immigrant visa, the DHS also sought to deport them from the country.
After appearing before the Immigration Judge in the family’s joined proceedings, immigration Attorney Chicas successfully sought a severance of the principal beneficiary’s case from the derivative beneficiaries’ cases, given that only the principal was directly charged with having committed fraud. Moreover, immigration lawyer Chicas convinced the Court to schedule and to proceed with the derivatives’ cases before the principal’s case. Subsequently, Attorney Chicas convinced the DHS Chief Counsel’s Office to grant a favorable exercise of prosecutorial discretion to the derivative beneficiaries through a stipulation to the granting of a 237(a)(1)(H) waiver. The Immigration Judge issued an order granting the 237(a)(1)(H) waiver to the derivative beneficiaries, thus ensuring that they would maintain their LPR status.
Throughout the course of the proceedings, the principal beneficiary vehemently denied that he had ever knowingly participated or knew of the employer’s admitted fraudulent conduct (an example of when an employment lawyer is needed or misrepresentations, much less had ever directly committed immigration fraud. Attorney Chicas thus held the DHS to its burden of proof, and due to the lack of evidence offered by the DHS regarding the principal’s alleged direct fraud, the DHS withdrew the fraud charges against him. He still, however, required a waiver in order to maintain his LPR status, and Attorney Chicas sought a 237(a)(1)(H) waiver for him as well. This time, however, the DHS did not stipulate to its granting and the primary issue for the Immigration Judge to consider was whether the principal deserved a favorable exercise of discretion. At the contested merits hearing, the principal testified in support of his wavier and after considering the numerous favorable equities in his case, the Immigration Judge also granted the principal’s 237(a)(1)(H).
The 237(a)(1)(H) waiver is an often overlooked, but powerful relief option for individuals who have been charged with fraud or misrepresentation (whether willful or innocent) in the acquisition of their permanent residence. An LPR may apply for a 237(a)(1)(H) waiver if he or she: (1) has a qualifying family member such as a USC or LPR spouse, parent, son or daughter; (2) had an immigrant visa or valid entry document at the time of admission; (3) was otherwise admissible at the time of admission except for any inadmissibility that was the direct result of the fraud or misrepresentation; and (4) demonstrates that he or she merits a favorable exercise of discretion.
After nearly four years of litigation, this family of four can now rest assured that the underlying validity of their legal permanent residence will not be called into question again. The icing on the cake: the three derivative beneficiaries are now all naturalized U.S. citizens.