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Musician Blames Visa Gaffe on U.S. Lawyer

CHICAGO (CN) - A "world-renowned" Venezuelan musician claims in court that he is jobless because of his attorney's failure to tell him leave the States and get a visa.

Javier Saume Mazzei, a Venezuelan national residing in Cook County, Ill., sued California-based lawyer William Martinez in Chicago on Feb. 4 in Federal Court.

Saume allegedly retained Martinez and Martinez & Associates in July 2008 "to assist him in obtaining an O-1B visa that would let Saume "legally remain and work in the United States" - specifically, in Chicago.

An O-1B nonimmigrant visa is for people who have "extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics," according to the complaint.

As "a world-renowned musician from Venezuela," Saume "more than meets the necessary qualifications for an O-1B visa," the complaint continues.

The first and second O-1B visas Martinez successfully prepared and obtained for Saume were allegedly valid from Sept. 10, 2008, until Sept. 9, 2012.

But "Martinez failed to obtain a valid O-1B visa" a third time, the complaint states.

After Saume emailed Martinez about the third visa on May 23, 2012, "Martinez agreed to prepare and file the O-1B visa application on Saume's behalf," according to the complaint.

The day after Saume's second visa expired, Martinez allegedly emailed him that "he was taking the appropriate steps to obtain Saume's visa even though the initial deadline had passed."

"Martinez failed to inform Saume of the consequences of Martinez's failure to timely file, and specifically failed to indicate to Saume that he would be required to leave the United States," the complaint continues.

Indeed, "Martinez filed the O-1B application late and it was received by United States Customs and Immigration Services on Sept. 17, 2012," Saume says.

Because the visa had expired, however, Suame allegedly "needed to leave the United States and complete the application process from the consulate in Caracas."

Martinez "did not inform Saume of this requirement," the complaint alleges.

Though Martinez said the visa's approval notice arrived on Sept. 29, 2012, with validity from Sept. 25, 2012, to Sept. 17, 2015, the lawyer "failed to inform Saume that he was required to exit the United States to obtain the O-1B visa from the Caracas consulate," Saume says.

"The purported approval was ineffective because Saume never went back to Venezuela as he was not advised that this was a requirement," the complaint continues.

"Based on Martinez's failure to disclose to Saume that he had to leave the United States, Saume did not know he was accruing an unlawful presence in the United States.

"It was not until November 2013, when Saume's second immigration attorney, Ms. Julie Aponte, reviewed the purported approval notice that Saume became aware that he needed to obtain the O-1B visa from the consulate in Caracas, Venezuela.

"Because of Martinez's failure to inform Saume that he needed to leave the United States, Saume has been in the country illegally since the expiration of his second O-1B visa on Sept. 9, 2012," the complaint continues. "Saume did not discover that there was an issue with this visa application until November 2013."

Saume says "his illegal status" has hurt his search for full-time employment.

The complaint asserts one count of legal malpractice.

Saume is represented by Amir Tahmassebi of Konicek & Dillon P.C. in Geneva, Ill.

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