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Deportation Prevented: Green Card Issued After 10 Long Years

by Matthew L. Kolken

Our client is a citizen of Ghana. He entered the United States in the 1990s, and married his spouse, a United States Citizen, in February 1997. His wife sponsored him for a Green Card, which was granted, but only on a two-year conditional basis.

The couple timely filed a joint petition in order to have the conditions removed from the Green Card, but at the interview the Government charged our client with fraud for failing to disclose a non-marital relationship back in Ghana which they deemed to be a valid marriage which would have precluded him from being able to legally marry in the United States. Our client’s conditional Green Card was terminated, and the Department instituted deportation proceedings against him.

We were then retained, and we requested that the Court review the denial of the petition to remove the conditions on our client’s Green Card. At trial we provided the Immigration Court with indisputable proof that our client had never been married in Ghana, but the Court inexplicably ruled that because this proof was obtained after his marriage that it was insufficient to combat the fraud charge, and ordered our client's deportation.

We appealed the decision to the Board of Immigration Appeals arguing that it was the Government’s burden to prove that the Respondent was not eligible to marry, and not our client’s burden, but the Board affirmed the Immigration Court’s decision. We filed a motion to reconsider, which was likewise denied.

During the appeals process we had our client renew his marriage vows with his wife, and then had his wife file a new Green Card petition with the same proof that we had previously provided the Court establishing that our client was never legally married in Ghana, arguing that both marriages to his United States citizen spouse were valid. Citizenship and Immigration Services approved the second Green Card petition rendering our client eligible to apply for a new Green Card.

Meanwhile, we filed a petition for review challenging the Board of Immigration Appeal’s decision with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. We argued that the Government had failed in their burden of establishing that our client was ineligible to marry his spouse, and that the Board failed to adequately consider the Court Order we provided establishing that our client was never married in Ghana.

We then convinced the U.S. Attorney assigned to the case to join in our request to remand the case back to the Immigration Court for consideration of the new evidence of the subsequently approved Green Card petition, and for a proper review of the evidence that was previously submitted.

During the months leading up to trial we worked with the Government’s lawyers, and convinced them that our client was not deportable and they joined in our request to grant our client his permanent Green Card. The Immigration Judge issued an order giving our client his permanent Green Card and terminated deportation proceedings against him with prejudice to the Department.

After approximately ten years of contested litigation our client’s ordeal is finally over, and justice has been done. He may now apply for his United States citizenship.

About The Author

Matthew L. Kolken is a trial lawyer with experience in all aspects of United States Immigration Law including Immigration Courts throughout the United States, and appellate practice before the Board of Immigration Appeals, the U.S. District Courts, and U.S. Courts of Appeals. He is admitted to practice in the courts of the State of New York , the United States District Court for the Western District of New York, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).

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