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It came as a surprise to Joseph Monetti (name changed for privacy) when he found out that his wife of 10 years and mother of three of his children, would not be granted legal status in the United States because she is being punished for a 20 year period. How is that possible?

As it turns out, his wife "Sandra Monetti", entered the U.S. when she was 19 years old by crossing the Rio Grande in Mexico. This was in the year 2004. She entered without much problem. Soon found a job and began working and sending money to her family living in Ecuador. Two years later she receive an urgent telegram from he father, telling her that her mother was seriously ill. As most children would do, she hurried back to Ecuador, to be with her mother. For several months, her mother suffered; her daughter and family by her side. As expected she passed on. Sandra decided to return to the U.S., and managed to cross the border a second time without incident. Years later she met Mr. Monetti at a local church. They fell in love, married and over the course of many years had three children. But one thing bothered Mr. Monetti very much. His wife was illegal in the United States and all over the news he heard that illegal aliens were getting deported. Although worried, he was sure that since he is a U.S. citizen, there should be a way to fix his wife’s immigration problem. Well, this turned out not to be the case. After meeting with three different immigration lawyers, each told him the same thing. That his wife was permanently barred form reentering the U.S. because she entered illegally two times, the second after living here for more than one year.

Our reporter heard of Mr. Monetti’s plight and decided to conduct our own research. We contacted Moses Apsan, an immigration attorney known as an expert on immigration waivers. More specifically he has obtained hundreds of I-601A waivers for people who crossed the border illegally and married a U.S. citizen.  We posed Mr. Monetti’s facts to Mr. Apsan. To our great disappointment, we found out that what Mr. Monetti was told by his immigration lawyers was completely true.

Mr. Apsan explained that certain individuals cannot acquire an I-601A waiver, that would normally allow a person who entered illegally to return to their country and obtain legal residency, because of information in their immigration records which prevent a waiver from being applied to their case. A person isn't always eligible for a waiver under the certain situations. In Sandra’s case it was because she was illegally present within the US for more than one year after April 1, 1997 accompanied by a departure from the U.S. and a return without a proper inspection.

Mr. Apsan also explained that the Permanent Bar is not really permanent, but it does require that the intending immigrant remain outside of the United States for at least 10 years before she can apply for a waiver for her illegal acts.

Not an easy lesson to be learned. Mr. Apsan said that  the only hope for this couple is if ICE decides to try and deport Sandra. If this happens Sandra could apply for what is called Cancellation of Removal. She would qualify for this defense in deportation, if she has been here more that 10 years, has been a person of good moral character and if it can be established in court, that her U.S. citizens husband and children would suffer extremely if Sandra were deported and could not return for 10 years. Mr. Apsan went further and said that should this happened,  Sandra has an excellent chance at success, and if she wins her case, she will be granted lawful permanent status (a Green Card).

This investigation showed us how difficult the immigration laws have become and how difficult it is for many good hard working American families to resolve their immigration problems. Perhaps someday in the future Congress will see its way to approving comprehensive immigration reform, that would take 11 million undocumented immigrants out of the shadows and allow them to become a law abiding members of our American society.


Moses Apsan and his staff, based in New York City and Newark, NJ provide exceptional legal services throughout the world, in all aspects of immigration to the United States, including non-immigrant (temporary visas), immigrant visa (Green Card) and deportation defense. In addition Mr. Apsan, has been practicing Bankruptcy law and Divorce laws for over 35 years, He was the President of the Federal Bar Association, New Jersey Chapter (1997-2002). He speaks Portuguese and Spanish..


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