Vartelas v. Holder, No. 09-0649 (2d Cir. 2012)Annotate this Case
Vartelas, a native of Greece and permanent resident of the U.S. since 1989, pleaded guilty to a felony in 1994. At the time, lawful permanent residents were not regarded as making an “entry” when returning from “innocent, casual, and brief excursion[s] . . . outside this country’s borders.” An alien in Vartelas’s situation could travel abroad for brief periods without jeopardizing resident alien status. In 1996, Congress passed the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act, under which lawful permanent residents returning from a trip abroad are regarded as seeking admission if they have committed an offense under 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(2), 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(13)(C)(v), including the felony to which Vartelas had pleaded guilty. In 2003, Vartelas briefly traveled to Greece to visit family. Upon returning, he was treated as an inadmissible alien. An IJ denied ordered Vartelas removed. The Board of Immigration Appeals affirmed and denied a motion to reopen based on a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel. The Second Circuit held that Vartelas was not prejudiced by failure to raise nonretroactivity, since the IIRIRA could apply retroactively. In 2012, the Supreme Court reversed, “[g]uided by the deeply rooted presumption against retroactive legislation.” The Second Circuit remanded to the BIA to consider the performance of Vartelas’s attorneys.
This opinion or order relates to an opinion or order originally issued on September 9, 2010.