India Human Rights Activist Wins Marriage Green Card Despite Prior Marriage, Pending Asylum Application, and Deportation Proceedings

| Apr 14, 2022 | Firm News, Success Stories

[Please note: The Client’s name and case key details may have been altered to preserve the identity of the client. This Success Story is not intended to be an offer of service or case plan. Every case is unique. The Success Story is presented for information purposes only.]

In 2015 the Margaret W. Wong team in New York started working with Vihaan, a man from India in his mid-thirties, who was forced to flee his homeland in 2001 for his activity regarding human rights issues. Vihaan had come to the United States without any papers at all and immediately surrendered to ICE at the airport. He was placed in detention for months before being paroled with the designation of “arriving alien” meaning he could enter the U.S. without being officially admitted.

To be sure, removal proceedings were initiated but he was able to counter them by filing for asylum and then appealing when his case was denied. Over the years, Vihaan consistently reported to ICE whenever ordered and endured some bruising lectures.

Finally, in 2014, his family in India arranged for him to marry a woman named Diya who was the daughter of a family friend. Such arranged marriages were common in their homeland, but Diya and Vihaan just couldn’t get along although she reluctantly filed for a marriage-based green card for him.

In November of 2015, Vihaan, now separated from Diya came to see us very downhearted because Diya had filed for divorce and instructed him to immediately withdraw the petition for the green card or she would go to ICE and say that he coerced her into the marriage in order that Vihaan might stay in the United States; an action that would certainly result in Vihaan’s being deported.

Of course, we did what Vihaan requested which was to file the necessary paperwork to withdraw the pending I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) and the I-485 (Application for Legal Permanent Residency) that had been filed on his behalf.  Vihaan thanked us and we told him to come see our team if there was anything else he wanted us to do for him.

About seven months later Vihaan returned to office, this time quite elated, because he had met a much younger but vibrant woman named Paola, a U.S. citizen whose family had immigrated here from Spain, and a romance immediately ensued. After a while, he and Paola concluded that they loved each other very much and wanted to commit to spending their lives together. Very soon afterwards, Vihaan and Paola married, and he went to work helping her run her small business.

Subsequently, Vihaan wanted to know if we could file for a marriage-based green card based on his relation to Paola. We said that this was indeed possible although we warned Vihaan that the authenticity of his marriage to Diya would probably be questioned but Vihaan replied that he didn’t care.

Thus, we filed a package for Vihaan that included another I-130 and an I-485 as well as an I-864 (Affidavit of Support) because Paola, now expecting a baby, contended that she earned enough to adequately support herself, her husband, and the expected arrival and a lot of this was due to the innovations that Vihaan had suggested for her business which proved to be very successful.

A couple of months later, however, there was an attempted robbery which Vihaan managed to thwart but not before the culprit smashed his kneecap which meant that surgery would have to be scheduled in the very near future.

In May of 2017, Vihaan contacted us to say that he had heard that ICE, in the new era of the Trump administration, had gotten quite aggressive in its deportation procedures and he was worried that he would once again be detained the next time he was scheduled to report to ICE which was in the next few days.

Our team responded by filing an I-246 (Application for Stay of Deportation or Removal) and accompanying Vihaan to his next two supervisory appointments with ICE (one week apart) which resulted in Vihaan having to wear an ankle bracelet which was physically uncomfortable and a blow to his self-esteem.

Less than a month later, Vihaan underwent surgery and started physical therapy which made it quite difficult for him to continue to wear the ankle bracelet.

In September, about ten days before Vihaan’s USCIS interview, he was called in for yet another session with ICE, this time with the head supervisor who said that he had secured a travel document and was ready to deport Vihaan that very day because his removal had been delayed for too long.

Fortunately, our legal representative was also present, and we managed to convince the supervisor that the proper paperwork had been filed for legal permanent residency and the interview would take place in the very near future. A tough but very professional individual, the supervisor ultimately relented but not before ordering Vihaan to put the ankle bracelet back on and keep it on pursuant to policy. He also demanded that we report back to ICE after the USCIS interview, when we got the final decision, and final it would be.

Less than two weeks later, the same representative from Margaret W. Wong & Associates, LLC. Wong’s office accompanied Vihaan, Paola, and their small son, Jack, to the USCIS interview, where, just as we expected, the two of them were quizzed about Vihaan’s prior marriage to Diya, his prior application for a marriage-based green card and its cancellation, and how the two of them got together, despite their age difference, very shortly after, if not before, Vihaan’s divorce from Diya became final. To no surprise, also, Vihaan was grilled about his having to flee India and his many years in the U.S. as an undocumented person prior to this time.

Nevertheless, thanks to an equally tough prepping by our team, Vihaan and Paola were ready and withstood the interrogation remarkably well accented by the presence of Jack, neatly dressed and squirming between his parents.

At the end of the interview, it was hinted that all of us would probably get what we wanted and, less than a week later, Vihaan was approved for a green card.

True to our word, we made another appointment for Vihaan to return to the ICE office where we presented proof that he was now a legal permanent resident of the United States and stated our intention to immediately file motions to re-open and to terminate the deportation proceedings.

For sure, we would later work with Vihaan and Paola on matters pertaining to the acquisition of a permanent green card and later citizenship, but, perhaps most importantly from a psychological viewpoint, when Vihaan left the ICE office that day his ankle bracelet had been removed, for good.