Immigration & Green Card Law Firm, Lawyers, Attorneys: San Franscisco Bay Area to San Jose: One Immigrant's Lesson For Life

Saturday, June 16, 2007

One Immigrant's Lesson For Life

In my work as an immigration attorney, I meet and speak with countless people on any given day. Oftentimes, I get to know them very intimately. Very fortunately, I happen to like the vast majority of my clients and thus naturally begin to care about them and enjoy the positive relationship we create together. Among these memorable people who come to me for my advice but end up enriching my life, one client shared with me a lesson for life this week.

This client had come to the United States 12 years ago for a family visit. His mother, who was a permanent resident at the time, filed an immigrant petition for him hoping to live together with her son. Not knowing how long it was going to take, he first started studying English and helped with the family’s business to get familiarized with the new country and to prepare for his new life. After 10 years of waiting, his mother passed away from a long illness. His visa was still not available. Without a legal status or a work authorization, his life had been on hold with only limited freedom and means to pursue his life goals. He thought about giving up many times and returning to his home country. However, his home country was no longer a home to him. Even with the limited lifestyle, he had pursued life goals in the United States and had formed close relationship with people in this country. His mentor and spiritual advisers prayed for him and encouraged him not to give up his life goals. For this, he had to find a way to obtain a full legal status and came to us.

He did not have a potential employer or organization to sponsor him as of yet; in order to be accepted where he wished to be, he needed additional education, but he did not have the work authorization or status to support it. If his other sibling filed another petition for him now, it would take well over a decade. Although his mother’s petition was approved a long time ago, and his visa was going to be soon available, his sponsor, his mother, had already died. What options did he have?

In family sponsored immigrant petitions, the law was originally written in such a way that if the petitioner died before the immigration process was completed, the approved petition was automatically revoked unless there were humanitarian reasons for not doing so; even then, the law required the original sponsor to sign an affidavit of support.

Nowadays, family sponsored immigrant petitions, other than those involving immediate relatives, take such a long time that in some unfortunate cases, the petitioner dies before a visa becomes available for the beneficiary, rendering some heart-wrenching situations. These situations were finally brought to the attention of the lawmakers a couple of years ago. A young mother of two little children in San Francisco died of cancer before her Chinese mother’s immigrant visa became available. Her last dying wish was that her mother be allowed to stay in America to take care of her grandchildren, and the husband, the father of the two young children, said he would continue to support his mother-in-law. However, the law at the time did not allow that.

This family’s heart-breaking situation finally caught the lawmakers’ attention, which resulted in the Family Sponsor Act of 2001. The new amendment now allows an alternative sponsor if the original sponsor has died and if there are humanitarian reasons not to revoke the approved petition. Eligible alternative sponsors include the spouse, parent, mother-in-law, father-in-law, brother, sister, son, daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law of the beneficiary. As in the case of other sponsors, the sponsor must meet all of the requirements for a sponsor and maintain an annual income equal to at least 125 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
After learning about our client’s life in this aftermath of the new amendment, we felt strongly that there were humanitarian reasons why the Immigration Services should allow him to obtain green card based on a substitute sponsor’s affidavit of support.
Although truly experienced attorneys can assess the individual situation and articulate humanitarian reasons to come to a successful resolution in many cases, what is at the heart of these matters is what kind of life the individual has led. In our client’s case, it was his sincerity, his honesty, and his steadfastness that had gathered many supporters to his cause. It is impossible to live a life without leaving traces of fingerprints. My client’s trace of life convinced the immigration, even in its worst time, that he should be allowed to stay and become a permanent resident in the United States.

After 12 years of wait, he is anxious to fully expand his wings. After the approval, his comment to me was, “I learned not to ever give up. Thank you!”

The information provided throughout the Website is general in nature and may not apply to any particular set of facts or circumstances. It should not be construed as legal advice and does not constitute an engagement of Heller Immigration Law Group, LLP, or establish an attorney-client relationship.

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