AILA 2016 WAIVERS CONFERENCE by Melissa Dominguez and Rebecca Rook
On August 26, 2016 we had the opportunity to attend the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) Conference on Waivers which took place in Chicago, Illinois. The Conference brought together Immigration Attorneys from all over the United States to discuss and gain knowledge on a variety of topics. It was all together a very educational and successful day in which we had the opportunity to meet attorneys from varying jurisdictions and honor YMF's commitment to always continue learning and keeping up with the latest trends in Immigration Law.
The conference was broken down into two main sessions- a morning session and afternoon session. There were several discussion panels within each session on different areas involving waivers. During the morning session one of the main topics discussed was ways a person can become inadmissible to the United States which included some of the most common grounds of inadmissibility such as being in the United States unlawfully or having a criminal conviction as well as some of the less common grounds such as an incomplete application or failing to attend a hearing in immigration court. The I-601 Waiver, which can waive the majority of the grounds of inadmissibility as long as the person has a Legal Permanent Resident (LPR) or United States Citizen (USC) parent or spouse to whom they can demonstrate extreme hardship was discussed in detail in the second panel of the morning. Another topic of discussion was the I-601A Waiver which allows a person with an LPR or USC spouse or parent and an approved family-based or employment-based petition file a waiver in the United States if they are inadmissible only for being present unlawfully in the United States. The person must then attend a consular interview in their home country in order to receive their green card but only after their waiver is approved in the United States. The panelists were able to discuss a variety of ideas on how to prepare the strongest Waiver possible and differing methods on how to collect documents, prepare a brief and what documents to collect and submit were demonstrated. In the final panel of the morning titled "Hot Topics" the continuing litigation on Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) and the expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) were discussed. The panelist stressed that although the recent Supreme Court decision was disappointing, it is still very much alive. The recent expansion to the I-601A, which was previously only available to spouses and minor children of United States Citizens, was also discussed and the impact it now has.
The afternoon session was broken down into two different tracks- one on Criminal Waivers which Attorney Dominguez had the opportunity to attend and one on Advanced Strategies for Waivers which Attorney Rook had the opportunity to attend. Attorney Dominguez's track had three different panels which discussed various ideas on how to present a waiver case before an immigration judge as well as the most common waivers for persons with criminal convictions that make them inadmissible- known as the 212(h) and 212(c) waivers. The final panel of the day for this track focused on what is known as "the permanent bar" or 212(a)(9)(c) and possible ways to overcome it. Ms. Rook's track focused on advanced strategies in waiver cases and on fraud waivers. Attorney Rook's track had panels that discussed advanced strategies in how to prepare evidence in a waiver case, how to address negative evidence, and how to know which fraud waiver might apply to your particular case. That is because two types of fraud waivers are available and how to prevail on each type.
As a conclusion to the conference day, we also had the opportunity to attend a dinner at a local restaurant in which we met with twelve other immigration attorneys to discuss additional strategies for preparing I-601 and I-601A Waivers. It was a very informative and educational evening in which we were able to put our various knowledge and experience to good use. It was also an opportunity to network with attorneys from all over the country in a smaller setting.
All-in-all, we both were able to learn a lot from the experience of attending the 2016 AILA Waivers Conference. We are grateful for the opportunity and the materials and knowledge we brought back with us are tools that will allow YMF to continue to learn and grow. This will help us to better serve our clients with their waiver cases.