Cases & Deals

Jones Day Chicago lawyers win significant immigration appeal before the Seventh Circuit

Client(s) Akram, Mahvash

On July 9, 2013, a team of Chicago lawyers scored a significant victory before the Seventh Circuit in a complex immigration appeal argued by Chicago associate Yael Aufgang. In conjunction with the National Immigration Justice Center, Jones Day represented Petitioner Mahvash Alisha Akram, a citizen of Pakistan, in her petition for review of the decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals that had declared her ineligible to adjust to permanent resident status and ordered her to leave the United States. The Seventh Circuit reversed the Board's order, and ruled that the regulation on which the Board's decision was based was invalid- the first court of any kind to so hold.

When Ms. Akram, was 18 years old, her mother married a United States citizen in Pakistan. After the marriage took place, Ms. Akram, her mother, and her younger sister wanted to move to the United States as permanent immigrants to live with the mother's new husband. Because she was under age 21, Ms. Akram was properly issued a temporary non-immigrant visa to come to the United States as the child of a spouse of a United States citizen. A DHS regulation, which prohibited children of spouses of U.S. Citizens from adjusting their status if they were over 18 years old at the time of the marriage, prevented Ms. Akram from adjusting to permanent resident status upon her arrival, resulting in her stay in the United States necessarily being temporary (while her mother and younger sister were both eligible for permanent residence). The regulation left children between 18-21, like Ms. Akram, in limbo -- they were permitted to come to the United States with their families and settle here, but they were then uprooted and forced to leave because the regulation rendered them ineligible to adjust to permanent resident status.

A unanimous panel of the Seventh Circuit agreed with Jones Day’s arguments that the regulation is contrary to congressional intent, as it precludes Ms. Akram and an entire category of children of aliens married to U.S. citizens from adjusting to permanent resident status with their parents, which creates an absurd result. Under the Chevron standard of review for agency regulations, the Court found that, based on the language of the Immigration and Nationality Act, its legislative history, and its statutory structure, the regulation frustrates congressional intent and policy.

Akram v. Holder, Case No. 12-3008 (7th Cir.)