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We Tackle the Toughest Deportation Problems

When Stakes Are High, Clients Rely on Our Removal Defense Attorneys

“They do not give false hope. They give realistic expectations.” — Sandip P. (client)

Oswald, Ojo-Ade, Pineda•   Is your career — or your family’s happiness — in danger because of your immigration status?

•   Have you or a family member received a deportation or removal notice that threatens the life you’ve built in the United States?

•   Are you an employer who needs to bring more workers into the U.S. — or to protect a key contributor whose visa has expired?

The deportation lawyers at The Employment Law Group® law firm can help you face such challenges. Our managing principal, R. Scott Oswald, has more than two decades of experience fighting removals. He has litigated clients’ cases successfully up to the federal appellate level, one step below the U.S. Supreme Court. Tomi Ojo-Ade is an associate attorney who deals exclusively with immigration law. A naturalized U.S. citizen herself, she understands how to navigate the system.

The Employment Law Group team offers a full range of immigration law services, representing clients nationwide before the U.S. Department of Homeland Security; overseas before the U.S. Department of State; and at all levels of the federal court system. We’re happy to help with routine matters, such as visa processing, but our greatest strength is serving clients with high-stakes deportation cases that require special knowledge.

A sub-specialty: Cases that need “saving” after things have gone wrong. Some of our clients are far into removal proceedings by the time they call us — perhaps because they’ve relied on the wrong immigration lawyer, or because they’ve tried to represent themselves.

We often can help such clients. If you’re facing immigration trouble, however, please try to call us sooner!




OswaldScott Oswald is a seasoned removal defense attorney. He is known for pushing deportation cases past bureaucratic obstacles and, if needed, into federal courts, where he has won several favorable precedents. Mr. Oswald has a particular interest in the immigration consequences of criminal arrests and convictions. A member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), he also serves as chair of the Federal Bar Association’s Professional Ethics Committee and holds a Top Secret security clearance.

Ojo-AdeTomi Ojo-Ade is a passionate advocate for her clients, having immigrated to the United States herself more than a decade ago. She holds a law degree from her native Nigeria and a Master of Laws from the American University Washington College of Law. Ms. Ojo-Ade concentrates her practice on deportation defense; employment- and family-based immigration; waivers of inadmissibility; and the visa process — including non-immigrant visas. Like Mr. Oswald, she is a member of AILA.



DISCLAIMER: Our firm’s past results do not predict or guarantee future success. Each case is unique. Read more.

We’re proud of all our immigration cases, of course, but a couple stand out because of their impact on broader immigration law.

In Scheerer v. U.S. Atty. Gen., 445 F.3d 1311 (11th Cir. 2006), we challenged the validity of an immigration regulation that barred arriving aliens from seeking permanent resident status if they’ve already been placed in removal proceedings — as is technically the case with millions of foreign nationals who are routinely “paroled” into the United States. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit agreed that the regulation “is not based on a permissible construction of the governing statute,” invalidating it for cases brought in that jurisdiction.

The Supreme Court declined to reexamine the decision, which made Scheerer the law in Alabama, Florida, and Georgia. The opinion has since been applied or cited in immigration cases across the country.

The result in another case, Etape v. Chertoff, 497 F.3d 379 (4th Cir. 2007), was perhaps even more far-reaching. After U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) failed to act in a timely manner on our clients’ applications for naturalization, we advised them to pursue their case in a federal court instead, as the law allows. While the lawsuit was pending, however, USCIS tried to deny our clients’ previous applications — an action for which we claimed the agency no longer had authority.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit agreed, leading to one of the first modern-day trials on a resident alien’s application for citizenship. More generally, the Etape case gave hundreds of thousands of U.S. green-card holders a new legal option when USCIS drags its feet on their citizenship applications.

Here are other examples of cases we’re proud of — “smaller” cases, to be sure, but just as important for each individual client:

  • After being in the U.S. for five years, J.P. was placed into removal proceedings. He never received the notice to appear, however, and was ordered removed without his participation or knowledge. When he eventually found out about the removal, six years later, J.P. hired our firm to represent him. We successfully argued that J.P.’s notice wasn’t served properly — and therefore that he had accrued the 10 years of “continuous presence” required to consider cancellation of a removal. Having met this threshold, our immigration attorneys then argued that J.P.’s removal should be cancelled because it would result in exceptional hardship for his family. J.P. received his green card. Today he is a U.S. citizen.
  • By the time he retained our firm, N.P. had been in the U.S. without lawful status for 13 years. He had an outstanding deportation order and no obvious way to regularize his status. Through creative lawyering, our immigration attorneys had N.P.’s deportation case reopened — and terminated. Then, based on an employment petition that had been filed on behalf of N.P.’s wife several years earlier, we sought permanent residency for N.P. Today he is a U.S. citizen.
  • Our firm represented G.P. in a complicated immigration case that required us to establish his good moral character notwithstanding a criminal conviction. By presenting strong evidence about conditions in G.P.’s country of origin, along with expert testimony, our attorneys were able to secure approval for G.P.’s lawful permanent residency.
  • V.K. and his spouse were placed into removal proceedings after the failure of an employment-based petition for V.K. After they hired our firm, we presented evidence of the couple’s strong business, community, and religious ties to the U.S. — and a compelling case of hardship for their American-born minor children. We successfully guided V.K. and his spouse through the proceedings and subsequently helped them to obtain permanent resident status.
  • Our immigration attorneys showed great perseverance in representing the P. family: A father, mother, and daughter, each with an outstanding removal order in a different immigration jurisdiction. The case required reopening and terminating all three individual proceedings, plus asking a federal court to force USCIS to rule on our clients’ I-485 applications. In the end, all three family members got their green cards — and two of them are now pursuing citizenship.



IMPORTANT: The following Q+A is intended as a general summary of best practices and not as legal advice upon which you should rely or act. Every case is unique and fact-specific. For advice on any particular immigration situation, contact an immigration attorney.

Q: I failed to renew my green card and now it’s expired. What should I do?

A: The good news is that the green card is just documentation of your lawful residency in the United States; much like a passport, its expiration doesn’t affect your legal status. Still, you must renew it as soon as possible. Not having a valid green card may cause problems at work or when buying a home, and it’ll certainly cause trouble if you try to leave or re-enter the U.S. Plus, depending on the location, you’ll risk hassles (and maybe worse) if you’re stopped by police and can’t quickly prove your status.

Before you fill out a renewal form, consider consulting with an immigration attorney about whether you need to explain your lapse — most especially if you’ve been avoiding renewal because of a run-in with the law. Depending on how long your documentation has been expired, a good lawyer may help you to avoid ringing any alarm bells.

Renewal can take six months or even longer, so be sure to apply early next time.

Q: I am undocumented, but my children were born in the United States. Can I be deported?

A: Sadly, you can. That said, having children who are U.S. citizens — especially younger children — at least gives you an argument for being allowed to stay in the country. Immigration authorities may choose to exercise discretion in order to avoid serious harm to your children as U.S. citizens, giving you lawful status strictly for their benefit. The current political climate makes it harder to win such cases, but a good attorney can help you to assemble your best argument.

Q: I’m applying for lawful residence or citizenship, but I have a prior arrest (or conviction) from my home country. How will this affect my chances?

A: It definitely will make your application harder — especially these days — but you may still have hope, depending on the exact circumstances. Important: Never try to hide your record. If you’re applying for citizenship, for instance, you must disclose all arrests on Form N-400 even if they didn’t lead to conviction. There are similar requirements on applications for visas, waivers, and other ways to remain in the country. Omitting a criminal charge on an immigration form is an easy, if dumb, way to get deported.

Next, be aware that it’s your overall moral character that counts in immigration matters. Ideally you’d have no arrests, and certainly no convictions, but maybe there are mitigating factors? You were very young, perhaps, or a political activist, or feeding a family that was literally starving? Prospective immigrants must show excellent character, but the judge who eventually hears your case won’t have a heart of stone — context will matter. An immigration attorney can help you to assemble facts and character witnesses that may outweigh a black mark on your record.

Q: I am a non-citizen living legally in the U.S. I just got arrested on an non-immigration charge. What should I do?

A: It depends, to some degree, on the circumstances. You probably have a criminal defense lawyer already. If you’re in the middle of an immigration application of any sort, or if you intend to apply for a different status in the future — including citizenship — you should likely hire an immigration attorney immediately, especially if the criminal charge is serious. And you should at least consult with an immigration attorney regardless, to assess your risk.

Why isn’t a criminal lawyer enough to protect you, when you face no immigration charge? Because admitting guilt via a plea deal — a common outcome in many criminal cases — may be exactly the wrong solution for you, and could jeopardize your future in the United States. Understanding this isn’t a criminal lawyer’s job, which is why your immigration attorney should talk with him or her.

Whatever the outcome, information about your case will be available to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, where even an arrest could raise questions about your moral character — and may even trigger removal proceedings. At a bare minimum, be proactive and prompt about updating any immigration application that’s already in process. Don’t try to hide the incident.

Q: I am undocumented and was arrested on a non-immigration charge. The police informed U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and now I’m in ICE custody. What type of attorney do I need?

A: As with the question above, you likely need an immigration lawyer and a criminal defense lawyer — but here the immigration lawyer will likely take the lead. Our firm even helps some immigration clients to find a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer — usually someone we’ve worked with before. Even with a team of experienced attorneys on your side, however, this is a perilous situation.

Q: Should my immigration attorney be based near me?

A: Proximity is always handy, but unless you’re looking for someone to attend an immigration hearing that’s scheduled within a week or two, it’s not the most important factor. Instead, look for an attorney with wide-ranging experience in cases like yours — and who understands the current political climate, which can affect how arguments are framed. Start your search early, so that you don’t need to settle. It may be worth paying for a consultation with more than one firm, so that you understand your options.

Q: I was just placed in removal proceedings. What now?

A: The removal process is lengthy; you won’t be deported immediately. The first thing you should do is search for an immigration attorney in whom you can be confident. The stakes are high, and you’ll soon start attending hearing after hearing. You will benefit from having representation at these hearings and guidance through every stage of the process, which can be confusing and intimidating.

Even if you can’t hire a lawyer immediately, do not skip a hearing! If you miss a hearing, you may be removed from the U.S. immediately.

Q: Can I really fight deportation?

A: Yes, but everyone’s case is different. An experienced attorney can help to marshal the best arguments in your favor: That your removal would cause extreme hardship for a U.S. citizen or family members who are legal residents, for instance, or that you have evidence of outstanding character, or that you’ve been developing deep roots in your U.S. community for ten years or more. If an immigration judge rules against you, you can file an appeal with the Board of Immigration Appeals at the U.S. Department of Justice. If the decision still stands after that, you may move the matter to federal courts via an appeal to the appropriate U.S. Court of Appeals.

If continued residence in the U.S. is crucial to you, it’s wise to prepare for a long battle — and to select an immigration attorney who has gone through the entire process before.

Q: I’m in removal proceedings. I’ve been told that if I request “voluntary departure,” I won’t risk having a deportation on my record. Should I do it?

A: In our firm’s view, voluntary departure — which cuts short the removal process and allows you to leave the U.S. by yourself — is generally a last resort that’s only marginally better than deportation. Typically we’d advise against making such a request unless you’ve exhausted every other option. It’s true that you wouldn’t incur a judgment that you weren’t eligible to stay in the U.S., but you could be barred from reentry for just as long anyhow, depending on circumstances.

Voluntary departure isn’t a right; it has certain eligibility requirements and may be refused by your immigration judge. If it’s granted, you forfeit any further proceedings and may leave the country under your own steam — but also at your own expense, and possibly after posting a bond to guarantee your departure. If you fail to leave, there are serious consequences.

In general, you should never request voluntary departure without first consulting with an experienced immigration attorney. Especially at the start of removal proceedings — or even before, when some ICE officials promote the option to detainees — it involves giving up a lot of rights.

Q: What is asylum? How can I qualify for asylum?

A: Asylum is a legal status that’s available to refugees, allowing them to live permanently in a new country because of their valid fear of certain types of persecution in their country of origin.

If you believe you may qualify for asylum, you generally must apply within a year of arriving in the United States. There are a few exceptions to the deadline, however. If conditions in your home country change in such a way that you’d now be persecuted upon your return, for instance, this could be a “changed circumstances” exception. Or if you failed to apply for asylum in a timely manner because you were suffering the after-effects of persecution when you arrived in the U.S., this could fall under an “extraordinary circumstances” exception.

Regardless of your exact circumstances, you should be aware that the U.S. government lately has become far more skeptical of all asylum claims.

Q: I overstayed my visa, so I don’t have legal status. Can I apply for asylum?

A: Yes, as long as you meet the one-year rule or can qualify for an exception. If you’re already in removal proceedings, however, or if you’re rejected for asylum, you still can press your case but the process changes somewhat: The U.S. government will be arguing against you in an adversarial proceeding and the help of an attorney will become even more important.

Q: If I’m deported, when can I come back to the U.S.?

A: It depends on your removal order. Maybe never. Most deportees are inadmissible to the U.S. for at least ten years; many remain inadmissible for life. Still, the government does grant waivers in certain cases. An experienced immigration attorney may be able to offer a creative solution, depending on your circumstances.




DISCLAIMER: Our firm’s past results do not predict or guarantee future success. Each case is unique. Read more.


“With Us Every Step of the Way”
Five Star Rating

“We had an attorney before [but] they couldn’t decide which way to go forward with my wife’s case. I reached out to a friend, who suggested I contact TELG for a second opinion. We didn’t know what else to do at that time. The other firm was taking too much time and they didn’t know how to proceed. After spending a few minutes meeting with Scott, he said, ‘Yes, we can do it.’

If you talk to Scott and he says it can be done, then you can be confident it will be done. … [He] gave me a ray of hope where before I had none — and the firm did not disappoint. In fact, they far exceeded our expectations.

My wife’s case had many important factors and we had to pull information from different agencies. It was a long and stressful process, but Scott and Tomi were with us every step of the way, always providing us with important and regular updates via email and telephone calls.

When my wife’s application was finally approved, we had no words to express how relieved and happy we were. It had been such a long process, with so much uncertainty — but everything ended well, and we now have so much peace-of-mind and happiness. …

I definitely refer so many people to TELG. … The attorneys know what they are doing. They do not give false hope. They give realistic expectations.”

Sandip Patel

TELG attorneys mentioned: R. Scott Oswald (Managing Principal)

Area of Law: Immigration - Deportation

“You Can Trust Them to Do What Is Best for You”
Five Star Rating

“My mother was referred by family friends. … We were looking for a lawyer because my father was recently deported due to his lack of status in the U.S. My mother and I were concerned that she would be at risk of deportation as well.

We initially had a [non-TELG] immigration attorney for my mother’s case, but we weren’t sure about her expertise and had serious difficulties communicating with her. It was so frustrating, especially during such a stressful time …. As soon as we sat down with Scott, he was so knowledgeable and confident about our case that I didn’t feel the need to look any further.

My experience from the first meeting onwards continued to be positive. I have never felt more comfortable with reaching out to an attorney as I did when I called TELG to speak with Tomi. In past experiences [with other lawyers], I was always afraid of being bothersome — and was often treated as though I was. However, Tomi always returned my calls and my emails without delay, and she was always patient and understanding of my concerns.

It was such a huge relief to know I could be in touch with her when I needed, and to be sure she was going to respond to me positively.

All of the staff is extremely helpful and kind. [T]he attorneys knew how to address my concerns even if I did a poor job at expressing them. That’s really what I loved the best about Tomi: She knew how to get to the bottom of whatever I was stressing about before I could even name what it was. She explained everything to me step-by-step so that I’d understand it, and took the time to give me more details than I knew to ask for. …

TELG is very experienced and I felt that I could fully trust them with my case. I had no issues communicating with them or understanding what was going on. I also felt totally comfortable talking with my attorney about the difficult and personal aspects of my case.

I was satisfied the most with how quickly my mother’s U visa application was put together — and how TELG had a network of investigators, psychiatrists, etc., [that] they pulled into our case as needed, without us having to find or hire them ourselves. It saved us a lot of fuss and headache.

I also really liked that Tomi came with us to our hearings, even though she didn’t really have to — it made us feel much more secure and confident in our choice of attorneys. This firm and the people in it have good character and integrity. You can trust them to do what is best for you.

We absolutely got the support we needed throughout this case, both legally and emotionally. It was difficult at times and I’m not sure we could have done it with anyone else. … I can sleep at night knowing that such a sensitive and important case is in their hands. Thank you so much!”

Janki Kaswala

TELG attorneys mentioned: Tomi Ojo-Ade (Associate), R. Scott Oswald (Managing Principal)

Area of Law: Immigration - Deportation

“They Helped Me Through the Whole Process”
Five Star Rating

“After a Florida immigration attorney notified me that there were no options for me to regularize my status, I decided to forget about my immigration case. I didn’t try to do anything, because I was scared. Then a friend told me about Scott at The Employment Law Group. He told me that Scott was really good, and that he would be able to help me out.

I called Scott. He was confident about my case, so I retained his firm and they helped me through the whole process of resolving my immigration status up until I became a U.S. citizen. Once I retained Scott and Tomi, in my mind I didn’t [consider] anything else — I just stuck with them …. Ms. Tomi and Scott worked very hard. They did everything from the paperwork [to the] planning.

When I had my interview for my green card in Kansas, Scott came with me. As soon as I saw him, I wasn’t nervous anymore. The officer at the interview did not have any of my case documents — she wasn’t prepared. Luckily, Scott was prepared …. Each time the immigration officer needed a document, he would reach into a binder and bring out the document.

Because of how prepared Scott was, my interview was able to go forward. At the end of the interview, the officer approved my case. Two to four weeks after my interview, I got my green card.

Today, five years later, I am happy to be a U.S. citizen.”

Nick Patel

TELG attorneys mentioned: R. Scott Oswald (Managing Principal), Tomi Ojo-Ade (Associate)

Area of Law: Immigration - Deportation

“I Believe God Led Me to TELG”
Five Star Rating

“My younger sister found TELG online. … We picked Scott because he looked professional — and all the comments were five stars. At that time I had another immigration attorney [who had] messed up a lot of things. … Scott told me my case could be done, but it would take time and money. I retained the firm and Scott gave me the energy to fight Homeland Security.

Ms. Tomi, who worked along with Scott on my case, … updated me on small things and big things. When I [had] an immigration hearing, I would get very nervous. The way Tomi would talk to me, I would feel comfortable and feel the energy again. I appreciate Tomi because she explained [issues] in detail. She had my back all the time.

My English was not good when I first retained TELG, but Scott and Tomi were very patient with me …. After so many years working with Scott and Tomi on my case, my English actually got better.

I was very, very satisfied with the outcome of my case. I feel very grateful. I believe God led me to TELG — I have to say that they were meant to be in my life. At first, I didn’t think I would have a chance to get the green card [but] after contacting TELG I was able to get my green card approved.

[After my status was finally settled], I made a trip back to India after 19 years. … I always think about [Scott and Tomi] when I think of this trip.

TELG is Number One in my life. I’ve already [referred] them five or six clients — and I will continue doing that, because I appreciate the firm so much.”

Vijay Patel

TELG attorneys mentioned: R. Scott Oswald (Managing Principal), Tomi Ojo-Ade (Associate)

Area of Law: Immigration - Deportation

“I Wasted My Time for 25 Years with Other Attorneys”
Five Star Rating

“My wife and I had been to about four separate top law firms. … Everyone would say we had no chance — [that] we could not get it done. I spent about $10,000 and had no hope. … Then I talked to Scott and he said he could do it.

Scott ended up helping us and he did an excellent job. Scott and Tomi were always available to answer all our questions. With other attorneys, we had to be chasing them for documents and updates. With TELG … we could relax and feel assured, even though my wife’s case was very complicated.

At the time of my wife’s interview, Scott came with us and we also had an interpreter. The interpreter had provided his services for many other people, [so he] was familiar with many immigration attorneys. Even he was impressed by Scott. After the interview [he] told me, ‘I have never seen a lawyer as good as yours.’

Tomi also plays a main role in TELG. She is the face of the immigration practice, and knows how do her job very well. Tomi made me feel assured and at peace throughout our case.

I wasted my time for 25 years with other attorneys who would forget about their clients. TELG always kept me in mind.”

Raj Patel

TELG attorneys mentioned: R. Scott Oswald (Managing Principal), Tomi Ojo-Ade (Associate)

Area of Law: Immigration - Deportation

"They Are Always on Top of the Game"
Five Star Rating

“My brother was in need of help from deportation. I was looking for a very good attorney who had experience in handling deportation cases. I had consulted with three or four attorneys, but … I was not satisfied with their work. I was told by my cousin that Scott had successfully handled a case similar to my brother’s, and [that] he could do complicated cases.

I decided to pick Scott because of his great work, organization, step-by-step processing, etc. Mr. Scott’s group always thinks about the client no matter what, and how they can make the case successful. …

You always get a satisfactory answer from Scott’s team. With other attorneys, you have to follow up with them constantly. Scott’s team, on the other hand, stays on top and always on schedule, constantly providing updates. The attorneys and staff are very helpful. They understand everything regarding personal matters and feelings.

TELG did amazing work for me and my family …. They got my brother’s deportation case resolved first, then they resolved the cases of his daughter and wife. Scott and his group were willing to take all necessary steps …. They even hired other professionals to assist with my brother’s case when needed. … They are always on top of the game and they make their clients happy with their work.

Because of TELG’s quality work, I refer [many people] to TELG and have every intention of continuing to do so. I always tell [them] that TELG is beyond amazing.”

Rakesh Patel

TELG attorneys mentioned: R. Scott Oswald (Managing Principal)

Area of Law: Immigration - Deportation

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