Haunted by the Past

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Many people currently in the United States could obtain lawful status if it were not for previous unhappy encounters with immigration. Too often people enter the country with lawful status but the twist and turns of life can upset that status. Once an immigration problem occurs, things can seem forever hopeless without the chance for legal relief. But this is not always true.

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Let’s say you entered with a visa, met a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, fell in love and impulsively married. Your new spouse petitioned for your immigration papers. Neither of you had financial records, any family connections, and the cultural differences between you became irreconcilable. You withdrew the petition and moved on. Or you obtained a conditional green card, then divorced before the two years required to remove the conditions of residency were up and so you never filed to remove the condition. Or maybe you filed for asylum, legalization or an employment-based petition and never heard from the appropriate office.

Years later you remarry or find stable employment with a potential petitioning employer. You have children, settle down and are living happily ever after—except for the nagging feeling that your immigration status is questionable.

Your new spouse or employer is eager to file a petition on your behalf. But when your new attorney requests a copy of your file, they discover that you have a final removal order or fraud determination. You realize that not only do you not have immigration status, but you might be permanently barred from obtaining status ever!  Your worry turns to fear and the question you’d like to avoid asking haunts you: What will happen if you are forever separated from your loved ones and the land you think of as your home?

Don’t give up: there is hope. Often these barriers are not as permanent as you may think. A prior marriage fraud determination may be challenged. A final order of removal can be reopened, and sometimes other seemingly hopeless immigration problems can be solved with the help of a good attorney.

Our office has successfully handled cases that seemed insoluble, discovering previously unnoticed relief was available for persons alleged to be inadmissible or removable due to fraud. We have, for example, obtained stays of removal for people who needed more time to get relief, even while the case was before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the person was in detention.

When your immigration problems seem hopeless, don’t despair and don’t lose sleep.

Instead, seek the advice of an experienced immigration attorney. Sometimes a good attorney with a fresh perspective and the creativity to try “out of the box” solutions can make all the difference.

James Root is the principal attorney at Root Law Group in Los Angeles. Email [email protected]

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