Imagine falling in love with a U.S. citizen, getting married, living together, being approved by USCIS for a 2-year green card, then for a 10-year green card and following all the rules, only to be placed under deportation proceedings.
This happened to a man in Chicago in 2013. A man who came to the U.S. on temporary work visa, fell in love and married a U.S. citizen, earned an MBA, got a great job, pays his taxes and has no criminal record.
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- Diana Cabrera, Reno, Nevada
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What Led to a Deportation Proceeding
It all started years ago when he (Let’s call him “Arron”.) signed an Affidavit of Support for a fellow countryman who was being sponsored for a green card through the U.S. citizen wife. Somehow, 2 ICE investigators got it into their heads that he was running an illegal ring using the identities of others to get green cards for immigrants.
The investigators tracked down Arron’s ex-wife, and questioned her about the bona fides of their marriage. She told them the truth: They were in love. When he asked her to marry him, her father who was gravely ill told him that he could marry his daughter only if he agreed to care for her for the rest of her life. Arron promised him that he would do so. They married and lived with each other. However, several years later, she developed a relationship with another man causing her and Arron to go their separate ways.
The investors told her that Arron was using her identity to fraudulently obtain green cards for immigrants. She was shocked. This was not the Arron she knew. Were they telling her the truth? Then they told her that if she did not cooperate with them, she would be charged and convicted of a felony, and could spend time behind bars.
In a panic, she told them that they had not lived together 100% of the time since she was commuting back and forth taking care of her dying father, but still living with her husband. Not good enough said the investigators. You are not cooperating fully with us, and you will be charged with a crime. They had her revise her affidavit time and time again until it read that although they were in love, they never lived together.
Although Arron has never been charged with committing a crime, the agents had him placed in deportation proceedings on the grounds that his marriage was not bona fide. That was almost 5 years ago.
Hiring a Deportation Attorney
Arron hired an immigration attorney. The attorney spoke with Arron’s ex-wife who told her that she had been pressured into saying that they never lived together. Her father knew about their marriage as did her step-mother. They submitted affidavits, photos, extensive financial records, leases, tax returns and identity documents all showing that they did live together and that their marriage was bona fide. Their attorney submitted these to the Immigration Judge, but due to lengthy government backlogs, Arron could not get a deportation hearing to prove his innocence.
Not only did Arron’s job required travel abroad, but his own father who lives abroad came down with a deadly disease. He needed to travel outside the U.S., but his attorney advised him not to do so. He did so anyway.
When he returned to the U.S., the officers at the airport took his green card and swapped it with an I-94 Arrival/Departure Record with the form number for a green card (“I-551”) written on it. Though the officer assured him that it was okay for him to travel abroad with this form, the next time he did, he was held at the airport for over 6 hours before he was allowed to enter the U.S.
At this point, Arron asked a question about his situation on www.avvo.com and I responded. He retained our law firm to represent him.
We got him a replacement green card and requested that the Immigration Court in Chicago expedite his deportation hearing. The Court granted our request.
In April 2019, I flew to Chicago to accompany him at his deportation hearing. His ex-wife flew in from Colorado to testify under oath that their marriage was bona fide and that she had been pressured into stating that they had never lived together.
Although the deportation hearing was scheduled for 3pm, we decided to arrive at 1pm in case the Judge completed her prior hearing early. However, the Court Clerk informed us that the prior hearing would be a lengthy one and that our hearing would have to be postponed.
What a disaster!
Having waited almost 5 years for a hearing before a Judge, and paid for me to fly in to Chicago, Arron was not going to get a chance to prove his innocence that day. What would happen to his job and would he ever be able to see his father again?
I called ICE and the clerk agreed to send an ICE attorney to speak with me. I explained the situation and asked the attorney whether another Judge could hear the case. Unfortunately, no other Judges were available. She called the Judge’s Court Clerk and we learned that it looked like a settlement might be reached in the prior case. If so, the Judge might be able hear Arron’s case that afternoon.
What a relief!
I poked my head into the Courtroom a little after 2pm. The only person there was the ICE Attorney assigned to our case. I introduced myself, and asked if we could discuss the case before the Judge entered the Courtroom. She informed me that her witness was unavailable that day, and that she planned to ask the Judge to postpone the hearing until her witness could testify. My heart sank.
Then, the Judge entered the Courtroom and greeted both of us. She asked me whether Arron had any qualifying relatives for a waiver of a misrepresentation under section 237(a)(1)(h) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. I informed her that he was the father of a U.S. citizen daughter.
Waiver of Deportation
The Judge explained that although she was convinced that Arron’s marriage to his ex-wife was bona fide, she was skeptical whether they were still living together 2+ years later when his I-751 petition was granted. However, if we could meet the requirements for the waiver, she was prepared to let Arron keep his green card.
I was very excited. We like to plan ahead for our clients, and Attorney Jennifer Rozdzielski of our office had prepared a motion for just such a waiver of deportation in case the Judge ruled that there was a misrepresentation. I submitted the motion to the Judge and gave a copy to the ICE Attorney.
I called Arron to the witness stand. He testified about his loving relationship with his former wife and how they had lived together. He then told us about earning his MBA degree in the U.S., his occupation, his extensive charitable work and his good moral character. The ICE Attorney and the Judge each asked him a few questions.
When the Immigration Judge granted his waiver of deportation and the ICE Attorney did not appeal, I thought that Arron was going to break down and cry.
Outside the courtroom, Arron, his ex and I all hugged each other. The next day, when I read the review which Arron wrote on Avvo, I was immediately reminded of why being an immigration attorney is so satisfying to me:
“I had a very complex situation and I previously hired other attorneys to work on my case but nobody was able to not only to solve it but even to get a hearing date. When I reached out to Carl I knew that this is the right attorney for my case. I worked with both, Carl and Jennifer to prepare for my case. I am thrilled with their honesty and integrity and the way they treated me. Carl came to Chicago and we were told that my individual hearing will be postponed. Carl took ownership of the issue and prevented this nonsense. At the hearing, Carl used his extensive knowledge and creative mindset and terminate the proceedings in about 45 minutes. My advice to all immigrants that are facing immigration challenges is: TALK TO CARL!!!”
Arron has hired us to prepare an application for him to become a naturalized citizen of the United States. He is honest, hardworking and will continue to make a great contribution to our country!