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Tuesday, June 7, 2016

How to address a false US Passport

I had a colleague send me a question recently, and it is worth posting the an analysis of the problem:

Facts: Client is an adoptive child of a US citizen. A travel situation came up where she needed a US passport. We sent her to the passport office and filed an N600.

She was denied for the passport because turns out she did not become an LPR until she was 19. We sent a letter withdrawing her N-600, and started work on an N400. Later, we received another call from the passport agency saying that they would issue her the US passport. The passport was then approved, and we didn't think anything more of it.

Fast forward two months, we just received a denial from USCIS for the N-600. We are at a bit of a loss. Client has already used passport.

If client returns to the US, surrenders the passport to DOS, and files an N400, do you think an argument can successfully be made that she in good faith believed she had acquired US citizenship, or do you think she will be permanently barred?


So here is the basic rule of thumb:

1. If you supplied the correct information to DOS and
2. Dept. of State issued you a passport based on that information and
3. You reasonably relied on that passport to travel, THEN
4. You have not broken any laws if they later withdraw the passport and inform you that you do not have citizenship

The problem arises as to why they gave you the passport in the first place. It is well established law that an LPR child (under 18) must reside with and receive principal support from a USC parent, in the US, to obtain citizenship automatically. See 8 CFR 320.2. Generally, they should have spent at least one year here with their parent in order to prevent RFE’s regarding the degree of support or care (i.e. less than 6 months, the child was receiving primary care from someone else for that year). That’s not a hard-and-fast rule, but a good practice tip.

If she knew she did not meet the criteria above, than she could arguably be held to have violated INA 237(a)(3)(D) -- fraudulent claim of United States Citizenship to derive a benefit under State of Federal law. Here, she would not be an arriving alien, but rather one who was hear legally and just violated the rules. As long as there was no willful or knowing intent, she should be able to avoid a 237 charge.

However...if she re-enters using the passport, then INA 212(a)(6)(C) applies (false claim to USC when entering the US). The key to a fraud/willful misrep is just that – it has to be knowing and intended.

Does she still have her old passport with the I551 stamp? If so, have her come back using that. If her citizenship was revoked on error by the US, then she would resume her LPR status. Use that status to re-enter to avoid a 212 charge.

You also need to get all documentation from the “passport agency” as to how they submitted the documents, and who actually approved the application. Additionally, how was it denied once and then magically re-approved? You need a thorough understanding of that process. This sounds like some kind of Notario hookey-pookey stuff on the part of the passport agency.

Having said that – you are in a rather interesting situation. The Department of State is a separate agency, wholly distinct from USCIS. A denial of the N600 does not automatically deny the passport. However, her knowledge that she does not qualify would make her relying on that passport to pass CBP a fraudulent act – not for DOS (apparently they still believe it is valid), but rather for USCIS. She can’t use that to enter as a citizen.

Do you have a question about immigration law? Give us a call! 703-402-2723 or admin@hanoverlawpc.com

Hanover Law, PC
Offices in Fairfax, VA and Washington, DC
www.hanoverlawpc.com
2751 Prosperity Ave, Ste 150
Fairfax, VA 22031
Sean R. Hanover, Esq.
Stephen Salwierak, Esq.
1-800-579-9864
admin@hanoverlawpc.com

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Can you get a jury trial on a VA misdemeanor?

From a Comment Board I am a member of:
Do I have the right for a jury trail for a class 1 misdemeanor in Virginia? Also, what legal process can I do when some one comments perjury to get me arrested?


Great questions! VA has a two step judicial system for misdemeanors. The first step is called the "district court". It is not a court of record, and it does not have a jury. You can read about this in the Virginia Constitution at Article I, Section 8 which outlines the process for misdemeanor hearings in district court. If you are dissatisfied with the outcome of the district court case, you can request a hearing de novo in Circuit Court. That's step two! Circuit court is the next level up from district court. Circuit Court is a court of record, and when appropriate, you can request a jury trial.

Jury trials are appropriate when the case is not "petty". Generally, the Supreme Court has ruled that means >180 days in jail is possible. Although Virginia technically allows a jury trial for all offenses (even that parking ticket!), as a practical matter, it will be extremely difficult to get a jury trial for anything below 180 days. Check with your local court for procedures on this, as you don't want to make the Court and the judge angry by demanding the ridiculous.

Because a class 1 misdemeanor carries a maximum of 1 year in jail and/or a sentence of $2500, you would be eligible for a jury for most 1st class misdemeanors in VA (such as what you asked about). Note, however, that juries are not always advisable. In VA, if you elect to proceed with a jury trial (or the Government decides to demand it -- in VA, the prosecutor can ask for a jury trial, too!), the jury provides the recommended sentence to the judge. The jury is not permitted to suspend time, making the maximum and minimum penalties for a particularly crime the absolute guideline as to what your sentence will be. A judge, however, may suspend time, or craft a solution that fits the particular facts of the crime.

As to your question regarding perjury, when the trial is over, you can go after the perjurer for submitting a false police report. Remember, though, this won't work if you merely say the person lied about you. He-said-she-said is not enough, and often unless you have compelling evidence of mistruth (for example, you can prove you were in Florida when they accused you of breaking into their house in Virginia, and they knew it), the Courts won't entertain the action.

Do you have questions about false reports or jury trials? Ask us! We're happy to discuss your case. 703-402-2723 or admin@hanoverlawpc.com.

Hanover Law, PC
Offices in Fairfax, VA and Washington, DC
www.hanoverlawpc.com
2751 Prosperity Ave, Ste 150
Fairfax, VA 22031
Sean R. Hanover, Esq.
Stephen Salwierak, Esq.
1-800-579-9864
admin@hanoverlawpc.com

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Appeals -- summary judgment and evidence

When considering a summary judgment, the standard for review at the appeals level is "de novo" -- this is well established. However, what, if any, restrictions exist as to what evidence may be presented outside of what was originally show to the lower court. How "de novo" is de novo. It is worth a brief discussion on the point. Hanover Law recently filed a responsive brief on just this topic, and I expect the appeals court to issue a ruling in, uh, about three years. However, I thought I would share my research for others dealing with the same topic.

The standard for summary judgment is outlined in McFarland v. George Washington Univ., 935 A.2d 337 (D.C., 2007): This court reviews "the grant of a motion for summary judgment de novo." Joyner v. Sibley Memorial Hospital, 826 A.2d 362, 368 (D.C. 2003). "[T]o be entitled to summary judgment, [GW] must demonstrate that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that [it is] entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Colbert v. Georgetown University, 641 A.2d 469, 472 (D.C. 1994) (en banc) (citing Super. Ct. Civ. R. 56 (c)). Although we view the evidence in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion, "[c]onclusory allegations by the nonmoving party are insufficient to establish a genuine issue of material fact or to defeat the entry of summary judgment." Hollins v. Federal National Mortgage Association, 760 A.2d 563, 570 (D.C. 2000) (citation omitted).

As a footnote, "conclusory allegations" are generally defined as those made by the party him/herself. You can't submit an affidavit purporting to be fact, when it contains only the statements of the party.

"Reviewing courts generally do not take judicial notice of evidence not presented to the trial court. Rather, normally when reviewing the correctness of a trial court’s judgment, an appellate court will consider only matters which were part of the record at the time the judgment was entered." Hahn v. Diaz-Barba, 125 Cal. Rptr. 3d 242 (Cal. Ct. App. 2011). This last one is critical, as it is as hard to find statements regarding evidentiary restrictions on lower Court's orders, in appeal decisions, as it is to pull hens teeth.

Do you have a question regarding appeals? We can help! We're experienced trial and appeal court litigators, and would be delighted to discuss your case. 1-800-579-9864 or admin@hanoverlawpc.com.

Hanover Law, PC
Offices in Fairfax, VA and Washington, DC
www.hanoverlawpc.com
2751 Prosperity Ave, Ste 150
Fairfax, VA 22031
Sean R. Hanover, Esq.
Stephen Salwierak, Esq.
1-800-579-9864
admin@hanoverlawpc.com

Notario Fraud - a discussion on what to do (this one is different!)

In the immigration community, you commonly hear about Notario's scamming innocent immigrants in the US. Often, the Notario is a not trained in law at all, and for a large sum of money, files the wrong papers and causes no end of trouble for the immigrant. Of course, this is not always the case. Some Notarios are quite competent and very public in their assistance to the immigrant community. Regardless, there is no such thing as a "notario" in the US. Each and every one of them is unlawfully practicing law (usually really badly).

So, what happens when a notario comes to you with an immigration issue? What happens when the bad-guy comes looking for assistance? We do considerable work in the immigration and criminal defense sectors. I had a chance to discuss this with a good colleague of mine, Mr. Franchesco Martinez, Esq (not a Notario!) from North Carolina. He brought up this case, and I thought a wider audience could benefit from our question and answer parley:

The substance of the questions are as follows:

I have a PC who wants to see if he still has a GC, wants to know if naturalization is possible, and wants to know if he has any deportation orders. I know this sounds broad, but PC has no idea what to do now. PC was in Federal prison - the family member who spoke to me mentioned "Convicted of Notario Fraud" in a very brief sentence. Apparently, the potential client was in jail for four years.

I want to read up on the effects of Notario Fraud. Is general "fraud" all I have to consider? Does anyone have a good, go-to, online source for "notario fraud"? Would a FIOA be beneficial to answer if PC still has a GC or if a deportation occurred while in prison or sometime thereafter?


First, a couple of basic principals. When things look weird, always get a FOIA. There you go.

Secondly, never trust you know everything you need to know about the client's chargeserr…more politically correct: client’s have trouble remembering things).

Thirdly, a green card (LPR) can only be revoked by a judge. However, a federal judge could technically revoke status – so, you need a copy of the sentencing papers from federal court. If there is nothing in the FOIA return about an immigration determination, than guess what? He still is technically an LPR. However…

The mere status as “one who is an LPR” really doesn’t do much without the credentials. An I-90 would be very risky in this instance, as it requires biometrics.

This seems obvious, but…no, he can’t travel. Ever. If he gets picked up on a return trip from overseas, he will be held without bail. Period. Basta. Ende da storio.

So – as for notario fraud, such a thing does not exist to my knowledge. There is no charge for “notario” – that is a term used in a foreign countries to denote an official empowered by the state to conduct certain legal business. In the US, the charge would be unauthorized practice of law, coupled with a possible fraud count. Any description of “notario” would be in the arrest affidavits describing the nature of the offense, not the charge itself. Again, do nothing without court papers in hand, so the advice to get information is spot on.

Hanover Law, PC
Offices in Fairfax, VA and Washington, DC
www.hanoverlawpc.com
2751 Prosperity Ave, Ste 150
Fairfax, VA 22031
Sean R. Hanover, Esq.
Stephen Salwierak, Esq.
1-800-579-9864
admin@hanoverlawpc.com

Thursday, April 28, 2016

ETHICS: When you need to let a client go...

A great question was asked about requirements of an attorney to maintain a client who was misbehaving. I responded as follows:

I have a current client who submitted an EAD application, against my explicit advice, through the help of his sponsor. Client was released on bond and is relying on the sponsor who is a well known individual in the community but who is not an attorney. I told the client that I would like to review any submission to USCIS before it is sent. I knew he was not eligible for employment authorization because he was not paroled and his asylum application has only been pending for 30 days, and I explained that to him until I was blue in the face! Client kept insisting that the sponsor knew what he was doing because he has “been doing this for 20 years.”

So, client went ahead and sent it anyway, then brought the documents to me afterwards. The information on the EAD application was not correct, including his current address and his basis for qualification. The sponsor also filled out the G-28 even though he is not an attorney or an accredited representative (I looked it up to make sure).

Client is in removal proceedings and I’m afraid that this type of application may result in a discretionary denial of his asylum application

I had a similar situation in a family law case in VA. Client decided to file a protective order against her spouse, didn’t tell us, and then refused to explain what the protective order was for – only that she was “told” to file it by a “good friend” who was a clerk at the Court. Completely wrecked our representation in Court and our attempt to work out a solution with the other side. Moral of the store – we fired her.

I teach new attorneys at my firm that (a) the client tells us what they want – what the end objectives are, and (b) we tell them what law and tactics we will use. If they don’t like the law/tactics, then they can go somewhere else. But the client cannot tell us what law/tactics to use, or try to strong arm the legal process themselves. Ever.

Your client is not cooperating with you, prejudicing his case, and potentially opening you up to false representation to the Court. Further, they are mocking your ability to strategize and actually move the case along in a proper manner. That would (and has in the past) infuriate me.

I would explain to him that he is paying good money to have you lead him through the immigration jungle. If he does not intend to follow your advice, you will refund any remaining monies in IOLTA (or operations) that have not been used and allow him to continue on his own.

Do you have questions about ethics or client management? Contact us! We're glad to chat. 1-800-579-9864 or admin@hanoverlawpc.com.

Hanover Law, PC
Offices in Fairfax, VA and Washington, DC
www.hanoverlawpc.com
2751 Prosperity Ave, Ste 150
Fairfax, VA 22031
Sean R. Hanover, Esq.
Stephen Salwierak, Esq.
1-800-579-9864
admin@hanoverlawpc.com

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Garnishment: Federal Pay and Child Support (or garnishment issues)

Stop garnishments on federal income
This may be helpful for individuals working on child support cases, or answering/challenging a demand for payment or garnishment pursuant to a valid judgment. In both situations, when considering Federal income such as SSI, military pay, retirement, federal pensions, contract payments or other income with its ultimate genesis in the Federal Government, the following chart will be helpful: Federal Garnishment Grid. This originates from the Commissioner at Commissioner's discussion of permissible garnishment actions against Federal income. Ultimately, the most common code section dealing with Federal income and all forms of garnishment is 5 CFR §581.104.

An area of often overlooked income "jamming" is contract income for government work. Unless the individual is paid directly for the work services provided, contract payment to a business or other entity is not subject to garnishment. This is a powerful tool for small businesses working with the government. If you own such a business, be sure to speak with an attorney to verify your company is properly setup and wholly independent of you as an individual. See 5 CFR §581.104(g) -- personal services are NOT exempt, but general contract payments are.

Also, note that while some forms of disability payments are attachable, generally, income that is not derived from work or prior work for the government, is not attachable. Therefore SSI income, or disability income not related to service related action is not attachable. See 5 CFR §581.104(b) and 5 CFR §581.104(j).

INCOME

Remember, that even where income is concerned, garnishments cannot exceed:
  • 25% of disposable weekly income, or
  • the amount the debtor's disposable income exceeds 30 times Federal Minimum Wage, whichever is less
(see 15 USC §1673(a))
NOTE: This does not apply to child support or alimony, where withholding can be any amount ordered by a Court, but generally not exceed 50% for individuals with other obligations, or up to 65% for single, non-obliged child support/alimony payors. This is all explained at 15 USC §1673(b). This can get right complex, so be sure to contact us if there is a question of multiple deductions, obligations, and other considerations. We have considerable experience in handling complicated support issues. Thee exemptions discussed in this article also apply to child support and alimony.

When jamming collections, it is important to (a) delay the action as long as possible (except in support or alimony issues), and (b) seek to categorize the income under a permissible exemption. This takes specialized skill, and frankly, it is not always possible. Careful planning is required to ensure the maximum number of exemptions are considered. Do you have a question about income exemption and garnishments?

Do you have questions about income garnishment avoidance, jamming, or alimony/child support issues? Contact us immediately! Time is of the essence. 1-800-579-9864 or admin@hanoverlawpc.com.

Hanover Law, PC
Offices in Fairfax, VA and Washington, DC
www.hanoverlawpc.com
2751 Prosperity Ave, Ste 150
Fairfax, VA 22031
Sean R. Hanover, Esq.
Stephen Salwierak, Esq.
1-800-579-9864
admin@hanoverlawpc.com

Can you renounce foreign citizenship to avoid deportation?

No. Although, it would be interesting to see if you renounced your citizenship at your home embassy and then were placed in removal proceedings, what effect that would have. Most likely, the government would determine your renunciation was not effective and send you home. It would be an interesting case.

Renunciation of citizenship must be done prior to an immigration event, for renunciation to have any effect. For example, you must renounce your native citizenship prior to illegally entering the US. Otherwise, even if you later renounce your foreign citizenship, the illegal immigration event (entry without inspection, for example), occurred when you were a foreign citizen, so you will be deemed a citizen of the country from where you came. Designation of a country of deportation is regulated under 18 USC §1231(b). (b)(1) controls arriving aliens; (b)(2) controls all other aliens. Specifically, the order of priority for deportation is as follows (18 USC §1231(b)(1)(C) and 18 USC §1231(b)(2)(E) -- (E) is used here, as it encompasses all conceivable legal scenarios):
(i) The country from which the alien was admitted to the United States.
(ii) The country in which is located the foreign port from which the alien left for the United States or for a foreign territory contiguous to the United States.
(iii) A country in which the alien resided before the alien entered the country from which the alien entered the United States. (iv) The country in which the alien was born.
(v) The country that had sovereignty over the alien’s birthplace when the alien was born.
(vi) The country in which the alien’s birthplace is located when the alien is ordered removed.
(vii) If impracticable, inadvisable, or impossible to remove the alien to each country described in a previous clause of this subparagraph, another country whose government will accept the alien into that country.


There are certain countries were deportation is not practical or possible. For example, Sudan, individuals who arrived from Vietnam before 1995, etc. In those specialized cases, you need to contact us immediately, as certain procedures must be followed to ensure you are not sent home regardless of treaty regulations.

Generally, as a matter of best practice, you do not want to designate a removal country in Immigration Court, as it may limit options under (b)(1)(C) and/or (b)(2)(E) above.

Do you have an immigration question? Contact us! Your first consultation is free, and we're glad to help! 1-800-579-9864 or admin@hanoverlawpc.com.

Hanover Law, PC
Offices in Fairfax, VA and Washington, DC
www.hanoverlawpc.com
2751 Prosperity Ave, Ste 150
Fairfax, VA 22031
Sean R. Hanover, Esq.
Stephen Salwierak, Esq.
1-800-579-9864
admin@hanoverlawpc.com