Unlawful Resident Documents Crimes She Witnessed, Was Star Witness in Trial, and Wins VAWA I-360 Despite a Permanent Bar

[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.]

Abril first came to the United States from Mexico in 1992 as an EWI (entry without inspection) and lived in the Southern part of the United States taking any job that she could to get by.

In 2011, after the birth of her first child, Jaime, she returned to her family in Mexico so that Jaime could have a strong support network.

In 2012, in need of funds to contribute to the support of her family, Abril tried to return to the United States but was apprehended and removed. A few days later, having a good job lead, Abril tried once more to re-enter but was caught, removed, and a permanent bar placed upon her meaning, in the context of this case, that any request for a permanent visa (green card) would be denied for the foreseeable future if not indefinitely.

Nevertheless, Abril’s determination to support her son was so great and the job lead so good that she was eventually able to enter the U.S. with the help of a coyote.

To be sure, Abril got right to work although she soon suspected that there was something wrong with company that employed her as a bilingual office worker so, when she was working in private, she studied the paperwork which confirmed her fears that it was a labor-trafficking outfit.

Because what was taking place was so much against her morality, Abril initially planned to gather evidence and turn it over to a human rights group who would then submit it to law enforcement after she quit her job and moved to another locale to avoid deportation.

It didn’t work out this way though because, while Abril accompanied one of the drivers on a border run, an automotive accident took place that resulted in some 30 undocumented workers being freed and the whole enterprise being exposed.

Since Abril had documented so much wrongdoing, she became a witness for the prosecution and was in court each day for a month with the result being that the hooligans got convicted and placed in prison.

Due to complications in which the permanent bar was a factor, Abril was not granted a “U” visa for her role in proceedings, but the authorities allowed her to remain in the United States on condition that she report to ICE on a regular basis. She was also afforded an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) under the C18 category reserved for those under such supervision.

Thus, Abril was able to send for Jaime (a born USC citizen) and find another job. Within the next year, she met, fell in love with, and married a man named Leo, also a U.S. citizen and for a while the three of them lived happily.

Unfortunately, Abril’s life took another turn for the worse when Leo started drinking more and more and started to abuse her and Jaime both emotionally and physically. At one point, in 2015, one of the neighbors called the police and Leo had to appear before a judge on domestic violence charges. At the beginning of 2018, Abril separated from Leo and moved in with friends, taking Jaime with her.

Along these lines, Abril had been aware for a long time that some serious changes had to take place, not only regarding her marriage to Leo, but also regarding her immigration status because of the policies of the Trump administration; in fact, she had heard about people who diligently reported to ICE being suddenly deported.

Therefore, Abril sought the services of the Margaret W. Wong team in Atlanta who reviewed her case carefully and soon came to the realization that it would be very hard to challenge the permanent bar at this time so no green card petition would be filed although Abril had a U.S. born child and was technically still the wife of a U.S. citizen although a divorce was being planned in consultation with another attorney.

However, we decided that an honest pathway for Abril to gain security in the United States would be under the provisions of the VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) that allows for an I-360 visas to be issued to spouses of abusive U.S. citizens.

So, Abril obtained a copy of the 2015 police report and set to work gathering other evidence against her soon-to-be ex-husband including statements from past and present neighbors who were well-aware of Leo’s temperament as well as several of his relatives who were appalled by his treatment of her and Jaime.

Surprisingly, the toughest endeavor was establishing that Leo was a U.S. citizen because he was terrible in terms of keeping records but an aunt of his who was totally on Abril’s side finally manage to produce a copy of Leo’s birth certificate proving that he was born in Pittsburgh.

Armed with this last bit of evidence, our team filed for the I-360 in June of 2019 and several weeks later, we accompanied Abril to the necessary interview that went quite smoothly. We then instructed Abril to tell her divorce attorney that it was all right to now file for divorce since the I-360 had been filed.

Over the next two years, two “prima facie determinations” were issued pertaining to the I-360 which were in Abril’s favor signifying her presence in the United States was secure until the final determination.

Meanwhile, Abril obtained the divorce and settled down to a more peaceful life while our team made sure that her EAD was continuously renewed.

At last, in April of 2021, Abril’s I-360 was approved granting her the freedom to live here in the United States despite the permanent bar.

As for her future chances for a green card, a lot depends on what the Biden administration decides to do pertaining to such matters, but Abril is most appreciative of what has been achieved for her through the efforts of such entities as the Margaret W. Wong team.

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