A meaningful Thanksgiving Day US

US IMMIGRATION NOTES - Atty. Marco F.G. Tomakin (The Freeman) - November 29, 2020 - 12:00am

One of the most fulfilling experiences I have in these years as an immigration attorney is when I see a family reunited under what seems to be under very challenging circumstances.

Lately, I had the opportunity to assist Roberto who was denied entry to the US. He applied for an immigrant visa as a derivative beneficiary of his wife who was petitioned by a US healthcare facility. During the appointment interview, his wife’s visa application was approved while Roberto’s was refused. The reason for the denial was that several years ago, when he was still single, Roberto came to the US on a tourist visa but was found to have sought employment as a caretaker of an elderly relative from whom he received compensation without prior employment authorization. He even admitted this fact when he was asked about it by officers of the US Customs and Border Protection. As a result he was deported back to the Philippines. Because of this immigration violation, he faced the consequence of being barred from the US and not join his wife. What made his predicament worse was that she migrated to the US while pregnant with their first child.

Due to his inadmissibility to enter the US, Roberto and his wife lived apart. His wife gave birth in the US alone, and took care of their son alone while adjusting to the rigorous life of a nurse in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. And there was no certainty Roberto would ever come back to the US. Her giving up her professional nursing career and the promise of a better life wasn’t a viable option. What needed to be done was for Roberto to file Form I-212, Application for Permission to Reapply for Admission into the United States After Deportation or Removal.

This isn’t an easy task. When I discussed with him and his wife about this application, they both understood that filing this form does not automatically grant an approval and no lawyer can ever guarantee that a challenging case like this will result in a favorable outcome. It took months of preparation in gathering relevant papers, securing support letters from friends, families and relatives, appointments with family psychologist, medical records of the wife and the child, and all other necessary documents aimed at gaining a positive and sympathetic response from the USCIS. After almost a year of waiting and just a few weeks before Thanksgiving Day, we secured approval from the USCIS on his I-212 application and he was advised to reapply for an immigrant visa at the US Consulate in Manila. In his words, this is the most meaningful Thanksgiving Day of his life and that of his family.

This case illustrates that for as long as there is a viable path towards an approval though how slim the chances are or how insurmountable the obstacles may be, there’s always hope that an application can still be granted favorably. I have seen clients whose case seemed to be a guaranteed loss but, as I often ask them, is doing nothing the best alternative? Almost always, they take their chances and some have come out victoriously rewarded.

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