Amigos Center

Posts Tagged: Immigration

Our Amigos Center Immigration has been inundated due to new policy of DACA.

It hasn’t been 3 full days since the “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” program has been in place and wow have we been busy! Thank you to our Immigration Specialists for your dedication to those we serve as well as the amazing staff and volunteers who are helping with the increased call volume.

Read a PDF version of the story from ABC – 7 regarding the new immigration program or watch a video on ABC -7 website of a young boy at the Amigos Center who is grateful for the opportunity to apply now for papers and what this means for his future.

Immigration Specialist, Christina Leddin, writes:

Today I talked to the wife of a client that I had reviewed their self-prepared immigration case. As of yesterday, I am happy to say that her 97 year old Canadian husband now has legal permanent residency (green card) in the United States. The Canadian man and his U.S. citizen wife, who have been married for approximately 20 years, drove yearly to Canada for six months so that he could maintain his legal status as a Canadian visitor in the U.S. The couple felt that they were no longer able to make the yearly trek to Canada and that is when they called Amigos Center for guidance to apply for the green card. I saw the couple once and assisted them each step of the way over the telephone. Now the husband can stay permanently in the U.S. and will be eligible for U.S. citizenship in 2 years and 9 months.

Today Amigos Center had the distinct joy of handing a client her green card after 22 years in the United States.  The client had been referred to our office ten months ago from Florida Equal Justice Center to file her adjustment of status case based on a U Visa, victim of a serious crime.  She had been the victim of domestic violence at the hands of her now ex-spouse and back in 2007 she had been granted the U Visa.  Upon waiting the required three years, she was now ready to file for her legal permanent residence, namely the green card.

Amigos Center started meeting with the client in December of last year to prepare the required documents and in January we submitted all the necessary applications/documents/fees.  In August we received a request for additional evidence from immigration and immediately called the client and responded to immigration’s request.  Today, October 3, Amigos Center received the green card on the client’s case.  We immediately called the client with the good news and within a few hours she was in our office to pick up the mail.  She started crying and shaking and said that she finally got her freedom back.  She left our office to call her mother and tell her the wonderful news.  Now our client will be able to travel to her native country and visit her family after 22 years in the United States.

 

Every year the Amigos Center helps hundreds of families reunite and stay united through the low-cost, legal immigration services provided. Pictured here is Gaspar Mejia. Through the help of the Amigos Center he was able to bring his wife and four children here to the United States. Out of gratitude for the work of Lala through the Amigos Center, they came and brought her a very elaborate handmade blouse from their native Huehuetenango, Guatemala.  It is a typical indigenous outfit only from that region. Many families do not have the money to pay for expensive immigration services yet they are very grateful for the services the Amigos Center provides. This was their heartfelt way to show their appreciation for Lala and the Amigos Center Immigration ministry.

Pictured here is: Luis Fernando (eldest son), Juana, Lala (Immigration Specialist) & Gaspar Mejia.

Immigration Services - Family from Guatemala

 

One client recently wrote an email to Pastor Bob Selle, Executive Director of Amigos Center, as a follow up to an October 2010 inquiry about Amigos Center Immigration services.

Dear Pastor Bob,

Just wanted to share with you…My citizenship was approved and I had the oath ceremony to receive my citizenship last week Tuesday April 12th in Tampa, FL! The ceremony was great. Most everyone had tears in their eyes. 504 people became citizens from 85 countries! So now I am no longer a “foreign alien with permanent residence”, but an American citizen! Christina was wonderful.  Professional, yet very encouraging throughout the process!

THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart!

The joy this client is experiencing wouldn’t be possible without the friends of Amigos Center who faithfully support the work here in changing lives and changing our community. Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts!

All days are busy, yet Thursday, March 31st was an especially busy day filled with lots of life-changing appointments. In the morning I did two naturalization cases (applying for U.S. citizenship). Both clients were from Mexico and had been our clients for a number of years and we did the paperwork on both cases to get their green cards. Both were extremely excited to apply for U.S. citizenship – the ultimate goal of an immigrant.

In the afternoon I saw a woman from the Dominican Republic who had entered the U.S. in 2005 with her immigrant visa (green card) based on the filing of her U.S. citizen sister in 1991. In 2005 Amigos Center filed for her adult son who had remained behind in the Dominican Republic due to falling out of his USC aunt’s case due to his age. Last Thursday the Dominican mother was filing the final paperwork with the Department of State so that her son will finally be able to get his interview in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic to then enter the U.S. with an immigrant visa/green card and join his mother, father, and younger sibling.

After that I saw a woman from the United Kingdom who had been in the U.S. since she was 9 years old on a work visa through her parents. The work visa had just expired and her parents and younger sibling will be returning to the United Kingdom. The young woman had married a U.S. citizen and so I filed all the paperwork (6 applications in total) to get her a work permit and then her green card through the marriage. I explained to her that then she will be able to apply for naturalization in a little less than 3 years from getting the green card and then she can apply for her parents and sibling to come back to the U.S.

Finally I saw a 16 year old Mexican girl who had been brought into the U.S. as a young child and she now has her immigrant visa/green card appointment in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico in a few weeks. I had been working on the case since 2005. I prepared the final paperwork for her and her green-card holding father to take to the interview in Mexico. She should be back in the U.S. within a week with her green card.

 

Christina shared that last Friday, at 5:30, she was getting ready and packing up to go home. The door was propped open for the cleaning lady and in strides an immigration client. Thinking to herself how to gently send him home, since she was all packed up and ready to leave, he smiles at her and thanks her for the immigration work she did for him and his family four years ago. He hands her $30 and tells her it’s not much but he is so thankful for the work of the Amigos Center and he is finally in a position to give back and wants to do what he can to help Amigos Center help more people. It was a great way to start the weekend.

Each month the Department of State sends out a visa bulletin showing the visa processing dates for different family relationships and countries.  Depending on the relationship and country, clients can wait months to decades to get their green cards.  Usually visa processing dates move forward in time or remain the same, but sometimes dates go back in time (retrogressing).  The retrogression can affect when a client can file for the green card or get the green card.

When the January 2011 visa processing dates were released in mid-December 2010, Amigos Center realized that we had a young man in his final year of high school that only had days to submit his green card case or possibly have to wait many more years to file.  Filing his case by December 31 meant him being able to get a work permit, social security number, driver’s license, and go to college.  His family scrambled to get all the necessary documents/fees.  With the help of Amigos Center, the young man was able to get the case properly submitted to immigration by the December 31 deadline.  Happily his case is now progressing and he is currently waiting for his work permit.

Toward the end of January 2011 Amigos Center noticed that processing times for sibling cases were going to retrogress over two years as of February 1, 2011.  We had two siblings that had submitted their green card cases last fall and both were scheduled for interviews with Tampa immigration for early February 2011.  We quickly contacted Tampa to see if their interviews could be scheduled for January when the visa was still available.  Tampa was able to see both clients on January 31 and both clients got their green cards.  If the clients had not been seen until February, they would have been pending for many more months or years.  Both clients called Amigos Center after their interviews to give a big thank you.  After years in the U.S., they can now hop on a plane to visit their family in their native country and they are now in line to be able to apply for U.S. citizenship.

–Christina Leddin

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