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I'Stephanie Coste and Sophia Montz practiced law independently before meeting while working for the Miami-Dade County Public School District. Searching for fulfillment outside the corporate legal arena, they both pursued teaching careers in underprivileged communities. Quickly recognized and promoted to positions at the district level for their hard work, dedication, and passion, their responsibilities outside the classroom focused on the positive mentorship and development of other teachers working in high-needs schools and communities.
During their experience with the school district, Stephanie and Sophia found that the overwhelming majority of their students were recent immigrants to the United States. They discovered a profound demand in their student population for assistance in both assimilating to a new way of life and advocating for themselves within the immigration system. Having opened their own immigration practice, Stephanie and Sophia married their passion for the law with their desire and willingness to help others.
As natives of Miami, Florida and children of immigrants, Stephanie and Sophia understand that navigating the immigration system can be difficult and intimidating. Although they have created their own boutique law firm, they continue to recognize the importance of assisting clients through pro bono representation with Catholic Legal Services, assisting in matters such as asylum, U-Visas, and Cuban Adjustment.
Stephanie and Sophia are here to help you at every step in your achievement of the American Dream because ¡no hay fronteras cuando se trata de su libertad!
“Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.” - Abraham Lincoln
Sophia Alexandra Montz was born and raised in Miami, Florida. As the daughter of a Brazilian mother from Rio de Janeiro, Sophia has always been passionate about helping individuals seek their American Dream.
Sophia graduated cum laude from the University of Miami with a double major in International Relations and History. She also graduated magna cum laude from the University of Miami School of Law, where she was an editor of the University of Miami Law Review, a prestigious scholarly legal publication, and appointed as a Dean’s Fellow in both Constitutional Law and Civil Procedure. She is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and has been admitted to the Florida Bar since 2014.
SOPHIA A. MONTZ
STEPHANIE C. COSTE
Stephanie Chantelle Coste was born and raised in Miami, Florida to a Nicaraguan mother and Dominican father. Given her parents’ backgrounds, working hard and helping others were key values instilled in Stephanie from a very young age. Stephanie graduated summa cum laude from Florida State University with a major in International Relations with a concentration in Political Science and minors in both Psychology and Economics. She then graduated from Fordham Law School in New York, where she represented clients detained in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba through Fordham's International Justice Clinic and served as secretary of the Latin American Law Student Association.
Upon graduating from law school, Stephanie practiced law in New York for several years defending pharmaceutical and insurance companies. Although she found the work challenging and interesting, she felt her true calling was rooted in helping others. This prompted her involvement in a pro bono case in New York assisting Salvadorian nationals seeking political asylum. After moving back to her hometown Miami, she continued to pursue this passion and practiced immigration law at a prestigious Miami law firm assisting clients with a range of legal services like family based petitions, humanitarian deferred actions, asylums, U-Visas, and Cuban Adjustments. Stephanie continues to work diligently to aid immigrants in pursuing their dream in this land of opportunity.
FOIAS (OR RECORDS)
The Freedom of Information Act allows people to request documents and information controlled by the U.S. government. The FOIAs requested will depend on the contact you had with the different government agencies.
Prior to applying for any immigration benefit, it is critical that you request your relevant FOIAs to know and understand the information that the United States government has about you on file. You may request one record or a combination of records from the following agencies: OBIM, CBP, ICE, FBI, EOIR, and/or USCIS.
Asylum is a way to seek refuge in the United States when your home country is not safe. If you are eligible for asylum you may be permitted to remain in the United States. You may also include your spouse and children (unmarried and under 21 years of age) who are in the United States on your application at the time you file or at any time until a final decision is made on your case.
While the asylum is pending, you may apply for a work permit allowing you to seek employment. The granting of asylum is within the sole discretion of an Immigration Judge or USCIS, and you will need experienced counsel to guide you through the strenuous application process.
If you have been the victim of a crime within the United States, you may be eligible to become a legal permanent resident and ultimately a U.S. citizen via the U-Visa. The U-Visa requires that an immigrant be the victim of a qualifying crime and report the crime to the police. Crimes solely against property do not qualify.
The immigrant must obtain a copy of the police report and continue to cooperate with the police throughout the course of the investigation. Lastly, and most importantly, the police report must be signed by the certifying agency. You then have 6 months to submit the U-Visa paperwork to USCIS.
After receiving a bonafide determination, you can apply for a work permit. Due to the backlog and the annual U-Visa cap of 10,000, the U-Visa process is taking approximately 5-6 years.
Family-based immigration lets U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents bring immediate relatives and extended family members (preference system) to the United States through a sponsor system. The requirements vary based on the sponsor's status in the eyes of the U.S. government (resident versus American citizen) as well as their relationship with the relative they wish to bring into the country.
Immediate relative petitions include U.S. citizens petitioning for spouses, U.S. citizens petitioning for unmarried children under the age of 21, and U.S. citizens who are over the age of 21 petitioning for their parents.
There is no wait time for immediate relatives as visas are available immediately after their I-130 family petition is approved.
If you are not an immediate relative, you fall under a preference category. Visa and green card availability for preference categories is set by priority date. Visa and green card availability and waiting times are also based on the country of the beneficiary.
SPECIAL IMMIGRANT JUVENILE STATUS
SIJS provides immigrant children with a path to lawful permanent resident status and eventually U.S. Citizenship. It is a two pronged process that involves both family court and immigration court. Although federal law requires the child to be under the age of 21, each state sets its own specific age requirement to proceed within its respective family court process. The state court is simply making the factual determination for SIJ eligibility.
The immigration court will determine the child’s lawful immigration status. SIJ eligibility is based one whether the court finds that the child’s reunification with one or both parents is not viable due to abuse, neglect, abandonment, or similar grounds under state law. After the family court’s disposition, the immigrant child can file for SIJ (I-360 form) with USCIS. Once that is approved, he/she can file for an adjustment of status.