Mark Stevens focuses on litigating immigration matters against federal government agencies.
While the law provides a variety of immigration benefits and legal protections to immigrants, their employers, and their families, in practice these benefits are often delayed or denied. Mark believes that litigation is the best tool people have to stand up against government overreach and negligence. Mark frequently sues immigration agencies for taking too long to process benefits applications such as EB-5 investor visas, asylum, and work cards. He has won court-ordered relief and favorable settlements in hundreds of delay lawsuits. Mark has also used litigation to challenge the legality of immigration detention. He won the leading trial-level decision on constitutional protections against prolonged immigration detention, a decision which has been relied on by other courts more than 50 times. Portillo v. Hott, 322 F. Supp. 3d 698 (E.D. Va. 2018). Mark was class counsel in a class action lawsuit that resulted in bond hearings and release from detention for hundreds of immigrants, though the decision was later reversed by a divided Supreme Court. Diaz v. Hott, 297 F. Supp. 3d 618 (E.D. Va. 2018), rev’d sub nom. Johnson v. Guzman Chavez, 141 S. Ct. 2271 (2021).
Mark also represents clients before the full range of immigration agencies, in both seeking benefits and defending against the government’s efforts to take away rights. Mark helps companies hire foreign workers. He helps people get permanent residence and visas for their family. He defends immigrants against deportation. He helps people win a range of immigration benefits, from asylum to permanent residence to naturalization. Mark represents clients before DOL, USCIS, ICE, CBP, DOS, ORR, and the immigration courts. Mark also maintains a robust appellate practice, winning appeals at high rates before the BIA, AAO, and circuit courts. Mark previously managed high-volume practices in a range of areas, including labor certification (PERM), special immigrant juvenile status, consular processing, waivers of inadmissibility, and deportation defense. Mark draws on his broad range of experience before administrative agencies to craft aggressive and innovative litigation strategies when those agencies aren’t doing their jobs.
*Admitted only in Virginia, practice directly supervised by a member of the District of Columbia Bar
2017 – 2021: Super Lawyers – Rising Star, Immigration
State Bar Licenses
- AILA New England, Member of Litigation Committee, 2022 – present
- AILA-DC, Member/Chair of Litigation Committee, 2018-present
- AILA-DC, Chair of Unauthorized Practice of Immigration Law Committee, 2016 – 2018
- AILA-DC, Member of Conference Committee, 2016 – 2018
- Volunteer at CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project in Dilley, Texas, Oct. 2016
- Advisor, Immigration Law Society at George Mason University, 2013 – present
- Youth Group Leader, Fairfax Presbyterian Church, 2016-2020
U.S. Courts of Appeals
- Rodriguez de Estrada v. Barr, No. 18-71326, 2019 WL 1779438 (9th Cir. 23, 2019) – holding that Board of Immigration Appeals erred in denying asylum and Convention Against Torture relief to Salvadoran woman who feared persecution by gangs on account of family membership.
- Ul Zaman v. Sessions, No 17-2142 (4th Cir. July 11, 2018) – vacating removal order because client’s abduction conviction no longer qualified as an aggravated felony.
U.S. District Courts
- Portillo v. Hott, 322 F. Supp. 3d 698 (E.D. Va. 2018) – holding INA § 236(c) unconstitutional as applied and ordering a bond hearing for noncitizen in prolonged mandatory detention.
- Diaz v. Hott, 297 F. Supp. 3d 618 (E.D. Va. 2018), aff’d sub. nom. Guzman Chavez v. Hott, 940 F.3d 867 (4th Cir. 2019) – class action granting bond hearings to all noncitizens detained in Virginia in withholding-only proceedings, leading to release of over 100 people.
- Guevara v. Zanotti, 399 F. Supp. 3d 494 (E.D. Va. Aug. 5, 2019) – holding that the immigration court retains jurisdiction over an application for lawful permanent residence filed by noncitizen who was placed into removal proceedings and later traveled on advance parole.
U.S. Department of Labor
- Successfully petitioned for reconsideration of denied labor certification regarding whether American workers were rejected for lawful reasons.
- Successfully petitioned for reconsideration of denied labor certification regarding sufficiency of proof of recruitment.
Board of Immigration Appeals
- IJ had denied waiver of criminal ground of inadmissibility under INA § 212(h) as a matter of discretion. BIA reversed, finding that police reports alone shouldn’t merit a refusal to exercise discretion.
- Won reopening of removal proceeding for former lawful permanent resident whose status was wrongfully terminated by the IJ. Convinced BIA that notice to client’s prior counsel was insufficient because removal proceedings had ended.
- Won reopening of removal proceedings for Iraqi man based on changed country conditions despite convictions for domestic assault and battery, child abuse, and violating a protective order.
- Won reopening of proceedings for Pakistani man based on changes in law that invalidated original ground of removability. IJ later granted a low bond. Man had convictions for domestic assault and battery, assault and battery (2x), violating a protective order (2x), DUI, disorderly conduct, and driving on suspended license.
- Won adjustment of status to lawful permanent resident for Chilean man with convictions for possessing drug paraphernalia, hit and run, and DUI. (Philadelphia)
- Won asylum for victim of severe domestic violence based on particular social group “Women in Honduras,” despite Attorney General’s effort to bar asylum to such victims in Matter of A-B-. Decision was circulated nationwide and the subject of blog posts by former BIA Chairman Paul Schmidt and former Immigration Judge Jeffrey Chase. (Arlington)
- Won bond for Guatemalan man. Convinced judge that Virginia hit and run is not a crime involving moral turpitude, contrary to decisions from other immigration judges and the Board of Immigration Appeals. (Arlington)
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
- Obtained H-1B visas for woman from Ethiopia as Market Research Analyst and for a Nepalese man as Accountant, both at a regional security service company.
- Obtained H-1B visa for special education teacher at church-based preschool.
- Obtained provisional unlawful presence waiver for Honduran man. Relevant hardship factors: low income, spouse required to work odd hours on nights and weekends while taking care of 2 kids, spouse suffered from hypertension and depression, and son suffered from asthma and allergies.
- Kosovar man with conviction for misdemeanor sexual battery applied for naturalization on his own twice and was denied twice. We applied for naturalization again, it was denied a third time, and we appealed. USCIS delayed the decision. We threatened litigation over the delay, and USCIS approved naturalization.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection
- Represented returning lawful permanent resident at deferred inspection for questioning about alleged marriage fraud. Mark limited the scope of questioning and the client was admitted.
U.S. Department of State
- After Seoul consulate denied immigrant visas, submitted brief to DOS’s LegalNet on Child Status Protection Act. Convinced DOS that clients sought to acquire permanent residence within one year of visa availability. Clients were granted immigrant visas.
- Honduran man was unlawfully present in U.S., had been removed in 1996, and unlawfully reentered in 1997. Mark had the removal order vacated through a motion to reopen. USCIS approved a provisional unlawful presence waiver. Department of State granted immigrant visa based on a novel interpretation of INA § 212(a)(9)(C). Convinced consulate that the permanent bar to inadmissibility for reentering the U.S. after deportation could be cured by the granting of a motion to reopen.
- “Practice Advisory: Fourth Circuit Law on Asylum, Withholding of Removal, and CAT,” AILA, January 2023
- “Kurzban’s Immigration Law Sourcebook,” American Immigration Lawyers Association, 17th and 18th Editions (2020-2023) – Section Editor
- “Business and Commercial Litigation in Federal Courts,” Thomson Reuters, Fifth Edition (2022) – Editor of Immigration Chapter
- “Practice Advisory: Federal Court Litigation for Family-Based Practitioners,” American Immigration Lawyers Association (“AILA”), July 2020
- “Practice Advisory: Prolonged Detention, American Immigration Lawyers Association (“AILA”), June 2019
- “Regulatory Comment: DOL Should Allow Attorneys to Register for PERM Labor Certification Accounts” March 24, 2015, regulatory comment republished as a featured article of the day by ILW.com
- “Exit Tracking: Should the Federal Government Track Noncitizens’ Departures from the United States?” National Security Law Brief at American University 3, No. 1 (2012): 11-34
- Frequent submitter of regulatory comments on immigration matters, including one comment which led to a correction of 6 C.F.R. § 5.42
- AILA Seminar 2023 – “Fourth Circuit Law on Asylum, Withholding of Removal, and CAT”
- AILA-DC Webinar 2023 – “Federal Litigation Basics”
- AILA-NE Brown Bag 2023 – “Updates on Recent Cases from the Federal Courts”
- AILA-DC Webinar 2022 – “Employment Authorization Document Litigation Roundtable”
- First Circuit Immigration Litigators Group 2022 – “Fourth Circuit Immigration Law”
- AILA-DC Conference 2022 – “Solving Stuck Cases with Mandamus”
- AILA-DC Panel 2021 – “Virginia Legislative Changes: U Visas, SIJS, Marijuana, and More”
- AILA Annual Conference 2020 – Federal Court Litigation for Family-Based Practitioners
- AILA Annual Conference 2019 – Prolonged Detention
- AILA-DC Conference 2018 – Habeas Corpus Overview
- AILA-DC Webinar on Volunteering at Dilley, Texas, July 2017
- Frequent speaker & guest lecturer, George Mason University School of Law, 2015 – present
- “DOL Says Farms Can’t Fight H-2A Wage Rule” Law360, August 7, 2023
- “Forestry Cos. Accuse DOL Of Jumping The Gun On Fines” Law360, August 2, 2023
- “Feds Say Farms’ Bid To Block Wage Hike Lacks Urgency” Law360, July 25, 2023
- “Forestry Co. Asks Judge To Pause DOL’s License Revocation” Law360, July 13, 2022
- “Waynesville Company Sues Labor Department” Smoky Mountain News, June 28, 2023
- “Feds Say ‘Speculative’ Harm No Basis To Block H-2A Rule” Law360, June 12, 2023
- “Farms Press NC Judge To Block DOL’s New H-2A Wage Rates” Law360, May 30, 2023
- “Farmers Say H-2A Wage Calculation Changes Will Harm Them” Law360, April 11, 2023
- “Employers Seek to Block Rule Overhauling H-2A Farmworker Wages” Bloomberg Law, April 11, 2023
- “4th Circuit Punches Another Hole in Trump Administration’s ‘New American Gulag’” by Former Chairman of the Board of Immigration Appeals Paul Schmidt, October 17, 2019
- “Due Process at Work: Gender-Based Claims are Winning” by Former Chairman of the Board of Immigration Appeals Paul Schmidt, January 17, 2019
- “IJs Grant Gender-Based Asylum Claims” by former Immigration Judge Jeffrey S. Chase, January 20, 2019
- Interviewed by CBS News WUSA9 in “For Years, Undocumented Immigrants Fought Deportation on Their Own. Soon, Fairfax Co. Will Offer them Legal Aid” May 1, 2019