CUPRYS & ASSOCIATES
Magdalena Ewa Cuprys, Attorney at Law
The Law Firm Cuprys & Associates is a full service, dynamic, and trustworthy law firm that specializes in immigration matters. The law firm is uniquely qualified to manage the most contentious and unusual immigration needs. Swift resolution of immigration-related issues is integral to a client’s ability to conduct business or reach their personal goals in the United States. Located in Miami and Clewiston, the firm’s offices provide corporate and individual clients of foreign nationality with temporary work permits for the U.S., green card petitions, criminal waivers and representation in removal proceedings cases. With over a decade of experience, the law firm provides clients with the confidence that their cases will be handled by an expert who understands their needs and how to obtain their goals. Although the majority of the law firm’s clients live in Florida, it represents people from all over the United States and several foreign countries.
WHERE YOU NEED TO BE
The Right Choice for Immigration and Visa Issues
At Cuprys & Associates, we are consistent, patient and professional, giving each new case the attention it deserves. An integral part of our services is to work closely with our clients so that they can make the right decisions with respect to their legal needs.
How We Can Help You
Stay of Deportation or Removal, Asylum, Criminal Immigration Matters, Naturalizations, Appeals, Bond Matters.
VISA & GREEN CARD
We provide assistance with any kind of visa, including B1/2 visitor visas, H-1B, and L-Visas. We also assist with Family-Based or Employment-Based Immigration (Green Cards).
Have a legal issue not addressed here? Call us to find out more.
Expertise. Intuition. Ingenuity.
Throughout many years of providing this service to clients, our team has gained the experience and expertise necessary to make this process as seamless as possible. If you have any questions, simply reach out.
Legal decisions can be difficult and complicated, which is why it’s crucial to take an informed approach. Through this service offering, you can count on us to guide you in every step of the process.
Get in touch to learn more about our services.
Magdalena Cuprys received her Juris Doctor from the University of Washington School of Law in 2002. She was admitted to the practice of law in California in 2003 and in Florida in 2006. Before law school, she completed two bachelor’s degrees, one in Political Science and one in Latin American Studies, at the University of Chicago in 1999 (AB Degrees Political Science & Latin American Studies from the University of Chicago in 1999). Ms. Cuprys is a member of Kappa Alpha Theta and was Panhellenic President. - She is a Member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).
Magdalena Cuprys is admitted to the practice of law in Florida and California. She speaks fluent Spanish and Polish, and is conversant in Russian and Italian.
Magdalena Cuprys, Attorney at Law
GET IN TOUCH
Miami/Coral Gables Office: 4011 W Flagler Street, Suite 406
Coral Gables, FL 33134.
Clewiston Office: 518 E Sugarland Hwy, Clewiston, FL 33440.
ABOUT THE FIRM
News Reports about the work of Magdalena Cuprys
Magdalena Cuprys’ work on behalf of her clients has been referred to in several news articles. She represented a client in a particular egregious case where detainees were not given the necessary medical attention, which appeared several times in the media.
ARTICLE 1: IMMIGRATION CONSEQUENCES OF CRIMINAL PROCEEDINGS
In this comment, Magdalena Cuprys, Esq. addresses and explains the problem of immigration consequences that may unintentionally result from a plea of guilty or nolo contendere
In the first article of her series of Instructional Articles, Florida Attorney Magdalena Cuprys comments on the issue of immigration consequences resulting from criminal pleas of guilty or nolo contendere, and how to challenge such guilty pleas subsequently in court.
Attorney Cuprys recently prevailed in a case in the Circuit Court of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida where she moved to vacate a judgment and sentence. She bases her comments on that case.
The facts of the case are as follows: The Defendant A.P.B., a Cuban citizen and resident of the U.S. since 2002, plead guilty in trial court to marihuana-related offenses, including selling and possession with intent. Apparently A.P.B.’s home was burglarized, and when police came to investigate, they found he was growing 26 marijuana plants inside the house. He had no prior criminal history. At the time, A.P.B. was represented by a different attorney who apparently did not inform the Defendant of any adverse immigration consequences that would result if he plead guilty. In fact, it seems that the prior attorney informed A.P.B. that there would be no adverse immigration consequences because he was a U.S. resident. It seems the attorney also failed to inform A.P.B. that a diversion program (“Drug Court”) would be available to him after which any charges would be dismissed if successfully completed. A.P.B. plead guilty in 2009 and was promptly arrested by officers of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”), and put into removal (deportation) proceedings.
Based on these facts, Attorney Magdalena Cuprys filed a Motion to vacate A.P.B.’s guilty plea and sentence, and alleging “ineffective assistance of counsel” by the prior attorney. According to A.P.B.’s affidavit, he relied on his attorney’s advice that there would be no adverse immigration consequences.
The key cases in this regard, under these particular circumstances, are Padilla v. Kentucky, 130 S.Ct. 1473, 559 U.S. 356 (2010) (as for federal law), and Julien v. State, 917 So. 2d 213 (Fla. 4 DCA 2005) (as for Florida state law).
According to the Supreme Court’s opinion in Padilla, a criminal defense attorneys must advise noncitizen clients about the deportation risks of a guilty plea. The case extended the Supreme Court's prior decisions on criminal defendants' Sixth Amendment right to counsel to immigration consequences. See Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Padilla_v._Kentucky.
The duties of Counsel recognized in Padilla are broad. After Padilla, if the law is unambiguous, attorneys must advise their criminal clients that deportation will result from a conviction. Also, if the immigration consequences of a conviction are unclear or uncertain, attorneys must advise that deportation "may" result. Finally, attorneys must give their clients some advice about deportation: counsel cannot remain silent about immigration. Id.
Let’s look at couple of the key sections of the Padilla Opinion. The Court summarized the facts and holding as follows:
“Petitioner Padilla, a lawful permanent resident of the United States for over 40 years, faces deportation after pleading guilty to drug distribution charges in Kentucky. In postconviction proceedings, he claims that his counsel not only failed to advise him of this consequence before he entered the plea, but also told him not to worry about deportation since he had lived in this country so long. He alleges that he would have gone to trial had he not received this incorrect advice. The Kentucky Supreme Court denied Padilla postconviction relief on the ground that the Sixth Amendment’s effective assistance-of-counsel guarantee does not protect defendants from erroneous deportation advice because deportation is merely a “collateral” consequence of a conviction.
Held: Because counsel must inform a client whether his plea carries a risk of deportation, Padilla has sufficiently alleged that his counsel was constitutionally deficient. Whether he is entitled to relief depends on whether he has been prejudiced, a matter not addressed here. Pp. 2–18.”
The Court recognized that changes to immigration law have dramatically raised the stakes of a noncitizen’s criminal conviction. While once there was only a narrow class of deportable offenses and judges wielded broad discretionary authority to prevent deportation, immigration law changes have expanded the class of deportable offenses and limited judges’ ability to alleviate deportation’s harsh consequences. Because the drastic measure of deportation or removal is now virtually inevitable for a vast number of noncitizens convicted of crimes, the importance of accurate legal advice for noncitizens accused of crimes has never been more important. Thus, as a matter of federal law, deportation is an integral part of the penalty that may be imposed on noncitizen defendants who plead guilty to specified crimes. See the Court’s summary of the case.
The Supreme Court then concluded that:
“It is our responsibility under the Constitution to ensure that no criminal defendant—whether a citizen or not—is left to the ‘mercies of incompetent counsel.’ Richardson,397 U.S., at 771, 90 S.Ct. 1441. To satisfy this responsibility, we now hold that counsel must inform her client whether his plea carries a risk of deportation. Our longstanding Sixth Amendment precedents, the seriousness of deportation as a consequence of a criminal plea, and the concomitant impact of deportation on families living lawfully in this country demand no less. Taking as true the basis for his motion for postconviction relief, we have little difficulty 1487*1487 concluding that Padilla has sufficiently alleged that his counsel was constitutionally deficient. Whether Padilla is entitled to relief will depend on whether he can demonstrate prejudice as a result thereof, a question we do not reach because it was not passed on below. …”
This “ineffective assistance of counsel” argument can then be further supported with state law. In this case (Florida), Attorney Cuprys supplemented the federal law argument with Julien v. State. In the rather brief opinion of Julien v. State, the Court ruled that an attorney provided ineffective assistance of counsel for failing to inform his client of the option to apply for the pre-trial diversion program. That case is similar to the current set of facts as to A.P.B. in that the Drug Court program (just like a pre-trial diversion program) offers an alternative to pleading guilty.
The basic facts are that Maxime Julien was arrested for shoplifting some shoes from Burdines Department Store. A first-time offender, pled guilty to grand theft and was placed on probation. As a result of his plea, the United States commenced removal proceedings to rescind his permanent residence status and remove him to Haiti. Julien filed a motion for post-conviction relief under Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.850, alleging ineffective assistance of counsel. In his amended motion for postconviction relief, Julien alleged that his attorney was ineffective in failing to inform him of his option to apply for the Pretrial Intervention Program (PTI), and in failing to investigate his claim that he should have been charged with misdemeanor petit theft instead of felony grand theft because the value of the stolen merchandise was under $300.
The Court notes that “Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.171(c)(2)(B) places a responsibility upon defense counsel to advise a defendant of all plea offers and "all pertinent matters bearing on the choice of which plea to enter and the particulars attendant upon each plea and the likely results thereof, as well as any possible alternatives that may be open to the defendant." (Emphasis supplied). As the criminal law expert explained, the PTI program is a "possible alternative" available to a first-time offender. For a first-time offender facing immigration consequences, the program is critical. A defendant derives a "tremendous" benefit by having his charge dismissed after completing the program. Considering these factors, we conclude that defense counsel's failure to inform appellant of this possible alternative constituted a deficient performance. See Jones v. State, 832 So.2d 207 (Fla. 1st DCA 2002) (holding that movant for post-conviction relief, who alleged that his counsel was ineffective in allowing him to plead to felony driving while license is suspended or revoked (DWLSR) without advising him of statutory avenue for leniency available to certain DWLSR defendants, made a facially sufficient allegation warranting further post-conviction proceedings); Cottle v. State, 733 So.2d 963, 967 (Fla.1999)(noting that Florida courts, along with other state and federal courts, recognize ineffective assistance claims based on counsel's failure to convey a plea).”
Based on these arguments presented by Attorney Cuprys, the Court granted the Motion on August 31, 2018, ordering that the Defendant’s plea, conviction, judgment and sentence be vacated.
The underlying case is State of Florida vs. A.P.B., Case No. F08-0035564 (August 31, 2018).
ARTICLE 2: BUSINESS VISAS
In this comment, Magdalena Cuprys, Esq. addresses and explains the business visa issues and visa alternatives in the U.S.
In the second article of her series of Instructional Articles, Florida Attorney Magdalena Cuprys comments on business visas for employment and possible alternatives.
Many visa applicants assume that once they complete the lengthy and expensive visa process and detailed interviews both at the U.S. Embassy and upon arrival in the U.S., they have accomplished their American Dream. If only that could be true.
Once they recover from the whole fingerprinting and interviewing stress, there is more to come. Whether you are a professional or a student, American bureaucracy will keep you busy for at least the first two months upon your arrival. You will quickly learn that one simply cannot function without the magic nine digits, known as a social security number (SSN). The social security system was designed to track income and earnings so that people could collect payments at a later point based on how long and how much they contributed over time. However, since the government assigns a unique number to each individual, other institutions like to use it for their own purposes. Not having the SSN will make it impossible to open a bank account, as well as to receive a paycheck! Finding a local social security office should be your top priority, especially since you will have to wait for weeks before you get your number in the mail. However, once it arrives, all the barriers and frustration will disappear, and you will be all set to start your new American life.
ALTERNATIVES TO THE H-1B VISA
Because H-1B work visas are limited (currently only 65,000 per year, plus 20,000 for holders of advanced U.S. degrees), it is important to keep in mind that there are alternatives that can help you bring needed foreign workers to the United States. You might want to consider some of the other nonimmigrant visa categories available that are not subject to this limitation. Here are some of the choices:
B-1 in lieu of H-1B
This visa allows employees of a foreign company to come to the United States to participate in a project or training program. Only for short-term assignments, this classification requires that the foreign national continue to be employed by the foreign company and return to the foreign company after the project in the United States has been completed. The visa holder cannot receive a salary or other remuneration from a U.S. source except for an expense allowance or reimbursement for incidental expenses.
Trainee visas: J-1 and H-3
These visas allow foreign students and professionals to enter the United States for the purpose of training or developing their careers with a U.S.-based host organization for up to 18 months and 24 months of training, respectively.
Intracompany transferee: L-1 visa
One of the most useful tools available for international companies, the L1 visa category applies to foreign workers who work for a company with a parent, subsidiary, branch, or affiliate in the United States. These workers come to the United States temporarily to perform services either in a managerial or executive capacity (L-1A), or one which entails specialized knowledge (L-1B) for a parent, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate of the same employer that employs the professional abroad. The employee must have been employed abroad for the affiliated company on a full-time basis for at least one continuous year within the last three-year period to qualify. L-1 visas are issued up to a maximum initial period of three years and can be extended for up to seven years for L-1A managers and five years for L-1B specialized knowledge personnel.
Treaty Trader/Investor: E-1/2 visas
These visas are available to nationals of certain countries that have trader and/or investor treaties with the United States. The E-1 Treaty Trader visa allows you to establish and run a U.S. business that has substantial trade with your home country. The E-2 Treaty Investor visa allows you to establish and run a business with a “substantial investment”
E visas are issued initially for two years and can be extended almost without limit.
Individuals of Extraordinary Ability: O-1 visa
The O-1 visa category is reserved for individuals of “extraordinary ability” in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics. To qualify as an individual of extraordinary ability, applicants must demonstrate that they possess “a level of expertise indicating that the person is one of a small percentage who has risen to the top of a field of endeavor.” Even though it sounds like only Nobel-prize winners can qualify, the truth is that the USCIS has dropped the standard, and the O category has become a useful alternative category. An initial O-1 petition can be filed for up to a three-year maximum employment period. Subsequent extensions may be for no more than one year at a time. There is no limit to the number of extensions possible.
J-1 VISAS FOR CULTURAL EXCHANGE
Under the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961, the U.S. Department of State’s Summer Work/Travel program provides “foreign postsecondary students an opportunity to become directly involved in the daily life of the people of the United States through travel and temporary work for a period of up to four months during their summer vacation.” Foreign students participating in the program are authorized to work anywhere in the United States. Typically, most students work in nonskilled service positions at businesses such as resorts, hotels, restaurants, and amusement parks. Hiring a foreign student through the Summer Work/Travel program has some distinct advantages.
All the immigration-related matters are coordinated by organizations designated by the U.S. Department of State (sponsors) to administer exchange-visitor programs.
The immigration process and the costs associated with hiring foreign students intimidate many businesses. More often than not, it is the foreign student who initiates the process with a sponsor. It is also the student who pays the sponsors the fee to obtain the required documents to procure a J-1 visa for entry to the U.S.
CANDIDATES PROFICIENT IN ENGLISH
All prospective exchange visitor participants must possess sufficient proficiency in the English language to participate in their programs. (22 CFR §62.10(a)(2))
All prospective exchange-visitor participants must be “bona fide postsecondary students actively pursuing degrees or full-time courses of study at accredited educational institutions, or as that status is defined by the foreign national’s home country educational system.” (22 CFR §62.32(b)(2))
Given this educational requirement, all program exchange participants will have completed a secondary-school education or its equivalent. Employers can be assured that candidates will have a certain level of education.
CANDIDATES SELECTED AND QUALIFIED BY YOUR BUSINESS
No prearranged employment before the foreign student enters the United States is required. Employers can make a hiring decision after the foreign student has arrived in the United States. Businesses will have the benefit of interviewing the candidate before extending an offer of employment. This will assure that the employment relationship will meet the needs of both the employer and the employee.
A foreign student could contribute wonderful cultural influences to a business. Likewise, the opportunity that an employer gives a foreign student to gain an insight into American business and culture is an experience of a lifetime.
Think beyond the traditional sources of seasonal employees. Participating in the Summer Work/Travel program may be just the thing a business needs to turn its next busy season into a financially and culturally rewarding experience.
The article will be published on the Blog of Ms. Cuprys.