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About me

Kerry Bretz is a former INS trial attorney and partner at Bretz & Coven.  His private practice is defined by his dedication to progressive, fair immigration laws that reflect the true value immigrants bring to the United States and the original promises of the United States as a place where people can pursue life, liberty, and happiness.

Kerry Bretz has played a major role in challenging the retroactive application of new immigration laws and mandatory detention.  He was instrumental in winning major deportation cases, such as Henderson v INS and Calcano-Martinez v INS, which cases have changed the national scene on the availability of relief to aliens with criminal convictions.

Additionally, in St John v McElroy, Kerry Bretz helped acheive the release of a mentally disabled women from INS custody and was awarded approximately $88,000 in attorney's fees under the Equal Access to Justice Act by a federal court judge.  Further, he obtained an additional monetary settlement to Ms. St John under the Federal Tort Claims Act for alleged abuses she suffered while detained by the INS.

Prior to private practice, Kerry Bretz was a Trial Attorney for the former Immigration and Naturalization Service.  As a result, he brings a unique perspective to every client's case and can effectively strategize each individual case.  He is regularly consulted by the criminal defense bar, is frequently quoted in newspapers, has appeared on reputable television programs and radio shows.

Kerry Bretz is an active member of the American Immigration Lawyer's Association and is often asked to speak at its annual conference.  He is also Commissioner for the Archdiocese's Commission for the Dignity of Immigrants.

Kerry Bretz has been selected to be listed in The Best Lawyers in America© for his work in the practice area of Immigration Law.  Inclusion in Best Lawyers is based on an exhaustive and rigorous peer-review survey comprising more than 5.5 million confidential evaluations by top attorneys.  Best Lawyersis regarded – by both the profession and the public – as the most credible and definitive guide to legal excellence in the United States

Kerry Bretz is Martindale-Hubbell® AV-Rated®, the highest peer-review rating an attorney can receive.


Languages spoken: Armenian, Bengali, Mandarin, Cantonese, English, French, Hindi, Italian, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish

Photos and videos

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Practice areas


  1. Immigration: 100%
    24 years, 1 thousand cases


Payment types:

Cash, Check, Credit card

Attorney endorsements

1 total 

Are you an attorney? Endorse this lawyer

  • Labe M. Richman

    I endorse this lawyer. I have been a lawyer in Kerry's suite for 12 years. Kerry knows more about immigration law than anyone I know. He is aggressive and creative. His work product is excellent and comprehensive. I have worked with him on many cases as a post-conviction attorney and he has always led me in the right direction with my analysis and when we have reversed convictions he has been able to reopen immigration proceedings and won relief for his clients. He also comes up with very creative and original theories for helping people attain their immigration goals. He has loads of experience and his years as an attorney for INS has really put him in a great position to help people.


    Labe Richman Criminal defense Attorney
    Relationship: Worked together on matter

Contact info

305 Broadway
Suite 100
New York, NY, 10007


NYCurrently registered 199207/10/2016
We have not found any instances of professional misconduct for this lawyer.
Avvo contributions
Legal answers
Award nameGrantorDate granted
Best Law Firms in New York First -Tier RatingU.S. News & World Report2016
AV Preeminent 5.0 out of 5 Peer Review RatedMartindale-Hubbell2015
Super LawyersSuper Lawyers2012
AV Preeminent 5.0 out of 5 Peer Review RatedMartindale-Hubbell2012
AV Preeminent 5.0 out of 5 Peer Review RatedMartindale-Hubbell2011
Super LawyerSuperLawyers2011
AV Preeminent 5.0 out of 5 Peer Review RatedMartindale-Hubbell2010
Super LawyerSuper Lawyers2010
AV Preeminent 5.0 out of 5 Peer Review RatedMartindale-Hubbell2009
AV Preeminent 5.0 out of 5 Peer Review RatedMartindale-Hubbell2008
AV Preeminent 5.0 out of 5 Peer Review RatedMartindale-Hubbell2007
AV Preeminent 5.0 out of 5 Peer Review RatedMartindale-Hubbell2006
AV Preeminent 5.0 out of 5 Peer Review RatedMartindale-Hubbell2005
AV Preeminent 5.0 out of 5 Peer Review RatedMartindale-Hubbell2004
AV Preeminent 5.0 out of 5 Peer Review RatedMartindale-Hubbell2003
AV Preeminent 5.0 out of 5 Peer Review RatedMartindale-Hubbell2002
AV Preeminent 5.0 out of 5 Peer Review RatedMartindale-Hubbell2001
AV Preeminent 5.0 out of 5 Peer Review RatedMartindale-Hubbell2000
Work experience
TitleCompany nameDuration
PartnerBretz &Coven, LLP1999 - Present
OwnerBretz & Associates1994 - 1999
Trial AttorneyLegacy INS of the Department of Justice1991 - 1994
Association namePosition nameDuration
American Immigration Lawyers AssociationN/A1994 - Present
New York County Lawyers' AssociationN/A1992 - Present
Legal cases
Case nameOutcome
St. John v. McElroy, 917 F. Supp. 243 (S.D.N.Y. 1996)Ms. St. John was found statutorily eligible for parole because INA § 236(e) was unconstitutional as applied to returning permanent residents who retained due process rights despite their absence from the country. I was awarded $88,000 fin EAJA fees.
Henderson v. INS, 157 F.3d 106 (2d Cir. 1998)The provision of the AEDPA that limits the availability of INA § 212(c) waivers does not apply retroactively to noncitizens whose deportation or exclusion proceedings were pending on the date of its enactment.
Calcano-Martinez v. INS, 533 U.S. 348 (2001)The Supreme Court held that IIRIRA expressly precluded the court of appeals from exercising jurisdiction to review a final removal order, but that petitioners may pursue their claims in a habeas corpus action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241.
See all legal cases 
Publication nameTitleDate
AILA's Handbook on Waivers and Relief from RemovalBasic on Habeas Corpus1999
AILA's Litigation ToolboxMotion for Fees Under the Equal Access to Justice Act & Supporting Memorandum of Law1999
School nameMajorDegreeGraduated
City University of New York School of Law at Queens CollegeLawJD - Juris Doctor1991
City University of New York, Lehman CollegeN/ABachelor of Arts, Magna Cum Laude1988
Speaking engagements
Conference nameTitleDate
New York State Bar Association, Queens County Bar Association, Staten Island Bar Association, & New York Chapter of AILAPractice of Criminal Defense after Padilla v. U.S. & Chaidez v. U.S.2014
Senegalese Consulate SeminarVisas A to U, Comprehensive Immigration Reform2013
Queens County Bar Association SeminarProtecting the Victims of Violence: Relief Under the Immigration Laws2013
NYSBA Committees On Immigration RepresentationEvolution of Padilla: A New Era for Criminal Defense Litigation2013
Immigration Town Hall Meeting Sponsored by NYS Assemblyman Rafael L. Espinal Jr."Time is Now"2013
Angolan Consulate SeminarVisa A to U, Comprehensive Immigration Reform2013
U.S. Senator Gillibrand's NYC Office SeminarDREAMers, U Visas, Special Immigrant Juvenile Visas2012
St. Lucian Consulate SeminarDeferred Action for DREAMers2012
Seminar at Consulate of St. Vincent and the GrenadinesDREAMers, Criminal Convictions, Green Cards, U.S. Citizenship2012
Queens County Bar Association SeminarInsights from Key Criminal and Immigration Attorneys2012
Queens Bar Association - Padilla vs. KentuckyImmigration Consequences of Criminal Convictions2012
NYSBA - Young Lawyers Section Annual MeetingOverview of Representation of Non-U.S. Citizens2012
Guyanese Consulate SeminarDREAMers, U Visas, Special Immigrant Juvenile Visas2012
Grenadian Consulate SeminarDeferred Action for DREAMers2012
Bahamian Consulate Seminar - CriminationImmigration Consequences of Criminal Problems for Noncitizens2012
Bahamian Consulate SeminarDeferred Action for DREAMers2012
Rutgers Law Record and Immigrant Rights Collective SeminarRedefining Borders: Comprehensive Immigration Reform2011
American Immigration Lawyers Annual ConferenceCrimmigration: Working with the Criminal Defense Bar2011
AILA & New York State Bar Association SeminarImmigration Law Training for Non-Immigration Lawyers2011
Queens County Bar & Latino Lawyers Associations SeminarAdvanced Criminal Law Series Part II2010
Korean American Lawyers Association SeminarImpact of Immigration Fraud on You and Your Family and How to Avoid It2007
American Immigration Lawyers Association Annual ConferenceBreakfast with the Experts Roundtable Discussion: Litigation2005
New York State Association SeminarCriminal Convictions and Immigration2004
Manhattan Neighborhood Network: "Law Talk New York"Criminal Convictions and Green Cards2004
Argentine Consulate SeminarCriminal Convictions and Immigration2004
American Immigration Lawyers Annual ConferenceFederal Court Litigation Panel2004
New York County Lawyers' Association SeminarImmigration Law and Crimes2003
AILA New York Chapter SymposiumDeportation2003
AILA New York Chapter Monthly MeetingDeportation Defense and Federal Court Update2003
New York County Lawyers' Association SeminarUpdates on Deportation2002
New York County Lawyers' Association SeminarCriminal Law Issues and Federal Practice2002
American Immigration Lawyers Association SeminarFiling Writs of Habeas Corpus2002
Practicing Law Institute ClassBasic Immigration Law2001
New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division SeminarImmigration Consequences of Criminal Convictions2001
New York County Lawyers Association SeminarNon-citizens and Federal Prisions2001
American Immigration Lawyers Association Litigation ConferenceFederal Litigation2001
American Immigration Lawyers Annual ConferenceCriminal Convictions2001
New York State Defenders Association SeminarCan Your Client Be Deported?2000
Association of the Bar of the City of New York SeminarCan Your Client Be Deported?2000
American Immigration Lawyers Association Annual ConferenceDeportation2000