Exciting news for certain children whose parents petitioned them who are waiting for a visa to become available! On February 14, 2018, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals came down with an important decision in Rodriguez Tovar v. Sessions. The Ninth Circuit rejected the Board of Immigration Appeals ("BIA")'s decision in Matter of Zamora-Molina, 25 I. & N. Dec. 606 (BIA 2011), which held that when a Lawful Permanent Resident ("LPR") parent petitions his minor child, and that parent later naturalizes, the child's age is his biological age, not his statutory age. The Ninth Circuit in Rodriguez Tovar held the contrary, specifically that USCIS will calculate the child's age on his parent's naturalization date based on the Child Status Protection Act ("CSPA"), when deciding whether he is an immediate relative of his naturalized parent (meaning under 21 child of a U.S. citizen).
Many lawful permanent residents convicted of aggravated felonies now have a defense to removal after the recent Ninth Circuit decision, Negrete-Ramirez v. Holder. The court held that adjustment of status does not prevent aggravated felons from applying for waivers of inadmissibility under Immigration and Nationality Act § 212(h). This overturns the government's earlier ruling that no lawful permanent residents convicted of aggravated felonies could apply for 212(h) waivers. Furthermore, the court's reasoning should also eliminate a seven-year residency requirement for those lawful permanent residents who adjusted their status.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has created a complicated, evolving set of legal interpretations which are vital to understanding immigration law. As shown in a recent case, however, these interpretations are not only subject to change, but those changes can be very detrimental to those who relied on their earlier decisions. This detriment is especially severe when the changes are made retroactive, meaning the new interpretations apply to actions taken previously.