In the case of Mahvash Akram v. Eric Holder, Ms. Akram argued that the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) was poorly constructed and did not accurately represent the intent of the U.S. Congress. Due to its inordinate complexity, INA prevented Akram from obtaining a visa. Akram contested the legal basis for her removal orders which the immigration judge and the Board of Immigration Appeals rejected. After appealing her removal proceedings decision to Seventh Circuit, Court of Appeals, Akram’s removal orders were nullified.
As a longtime practitioner of immigration law, I fully understand that this particular system is often beyond the comprehension of even the most intellectually gifted. Many of the laws that govern immigration have been added through decades of changing cultural and social notions, with a myriad of considerations for political relationships with other countries. When a case like Akram v. Holder occurs, it is both surprising and gratifying to see that the judicial system still adheres to logic and justice.
Akram is a native of Pakistan, whose mother married a U.S. citizen, Farhan Siddique. At the time of the marriage, Akram was 18. Siddique requested K visas for his new bride and her two children and submitted I-130 petitions for permanent residency on their behalves. While Akram’s mother and younger sister receive K visas for temporary residence as well as successful I-130 petition decisions, Akram only received a temporary visa. Because she was 18 at the time of the marriage, she could not legally be considered a minor child of Siddique.
This legal inconsistency can be attributed to INA. While K visas may be granted to minor children of citizens or K-3 visa holders, who are younger than 21 years of age, I-130 petitions may only be granted to stepchildren of U.S. citizens younger than 18. Akram entered the U.S. on a legal K-4 visa, but was scheduled for removal after it was discovered that she had overstayed.
In her arguments for adjustment to legal resident, Akram contended that Congress did not intend to bar step children from obtaining legal status. She presented the category of children of fiancés who are granted much more latitude from immigration authorities, while children of new spouses must satisfy a much narrower set of restrictions. She also argued that her mother, who is now a legal resident, should be able to petition for an I-130 on Akram’s behalf.
The Seventh Circuit agreed with Akram by demonstrating that Congress’ intent was not as narrow as immigration authorities have interpreted. Using Chevron, the Seventh Circuit agreed that leniency to children of fiancés would not have been greater than those of spouses. The purpose of K visas is to allow immediate family entry while waiting for legal status, thus the added restrictions imposed by immigration authorities is too strict an interpretation.
As an immigration attorney, I am delighted to witness a successful challenge to a cumbersome and illogical law. Akram v. Holder is an outstanding example of a worthy legal case that righted a longstanding wrong.
Lyttle Law Firm, PLLC, is always eager to take up cases that can improve the legal system. If you would like an opinion on your legal case, please contact us at (512) 215-5225.