In 2018, UC Berkeley graduate student Henrique Faria was finishing up his studies at Berkeley Law and considering job prospects. According to Faria, he was offered a position at Ernst & Young, one of the top accounting firms in the world.
Three years later, Faria — now an alumnus — is filing a lawsuit against the UC Board of Regents over a clerical error that resulted in his eventual deportation from the United States.
“Henrique took on a huge challenge and a big gamble in spending a year at Berkeley Law to advance his career from Brazilian tax lawyer to the chance to get a job at a prestigious international firm,” alleged Julia Annes Stedile, Faria’s attorney, in an email. “He gave up his job in Brazil and went deep in debt.”
Faria added that in order to start the job in New York, he needed to submit an application for work authorization — a process overseen by the Berkeley International Office as part of his program. It was during this process that the office gave Faria the wrong date to complete his paperwork, Faria alleged. This is a date that only UC Berkeley had access to, according to Stedile.
Faria moved to New York to situate himself for his future job while waiting for the status of his application, he said. Without news, Faria contacted the Berkeley International Office in hopes of accelerating his case. He added Ernst & Young delayed his start date for a month in order for him to sort out his paperwork.
Due to high expenses living in New York, Faria went back to visit his family in Brazil while awaiting the results of his application. At this point, Faria said he received the news that he had been rejected.
“UC prematurely set the deadline for Henrique’s filing of his papers with (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) and then gave him a different deadline,” Stedile alleged in the email. “For the next three months, it failed to monitor his application over a secured system to which Henrique had no access. There is no dispute over these facts, since the Regents have admitted them.”
When Faria returned to the United States, he was stopped due to his lack of work authorization and complications with his student visa, he alleged. The immigration officers eventually allowed him to enter the country under a parole condition, giving him 60 days to get his paperwork in order.
According to Faria, Ivor Emmanuel, the director of the Berkeley International Office, said he “would do anything” to help Faria appeal the rejection of his application. An appeal was eventually infeasible and they opted to file a motion to reopen the case instead, which would take approximately three to six months.
Faria alleged that he requested campus to help him cover finances for the duration of these months but was denied. Considering the circumstances, Faria said Emmanuel recommended that he return to Brazil for the time being. When he arrived at the airport to do so, he faced more complications because of the parole condition imposed upon his entry to the United States.
“He was arrested by immigration authorities at the airport, handcuffed, shackled and escorted to the plane as an international criminal being deported,” Stedile said in an email. “He of course lost his dream job with an international firm.”
UC Berkeley spokesperson Janet Gilmore said campus makes “its best effort” to support students dealing with the immigration system.
According to Stedile, Faria is hoping to obtain justice through this lawsuit. Stedile alleged that it will be up to the jury to decide how the UC Regents will compensate Faria for the “destruction of his career” and the “devastating emotional impact on him.”