What happens when you marry an American and you want to live in the United States? It may seem straightforward. However, a lot can go wrong… medical record troubles, USCIS misfires, and more.
The Case of Shania & Rachel
Meet Shania, a Canadian. After falling in love with Rachel, an American citizen, the two date long distance for several years. Shania travels back and forth between the U.S. and Canada on a tourist visa. Eventually, Shania and Rachel are married and, in 2019, they welcome their son into the world.
After a death in Rachel's family, the couple mutually decide to move to the states as a family. Shania and Rachel filed for immigration benefits alone, resulting in USCIS misfires and lots of stress. Shania was left without an immigration status, terrified of losing her family. Keep reading to learn why you should always hire an immigration attorney.
On paper, the process of applying for Shania’s green card looked simple enough. Spouses of United States citizens who entered the country on a visa should be eligible for a green card in a seemingly straightforward process. Form I-130 is used to establish the marital relationship and Form I-485 is the application for a green card.
As stated earlier, Shania and Rachel decided to apply on their own, as their case should have been simple and there were no unusual circumstances. They had followed the law and Shania was clearly eligible for her green card. Unfortunately, the process did not go as smoothly as they expected.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services denied their case, apparently based on a clerical error. The basis of the denial was that Shania had left the country while her case was pending, thereby legally abandoning her application. The only problem was she hadn’t left the country.
In fact, Shania did not leave the United States, and she had the evidence to prove it. “USCIS did not put in the work,” said Shania. The government inexplicably denied the case in error, and even when Shania filed an appeal with all of her supporting documentation, it was again denied. They were in shock and disbelief. All of a sudden, Shania was in essence “undocumented” even though she had entered the country on a visa and properly filed her green card application. Shania felt completely demoralized, and her nightmare was being forced to leave the U.S. where she and Rachel had built a life for their family. “It’s so sad to think about your family being torn apart,” Shania recounts. Shania and Rachel knew they needed to find an experienced immigration attorney to help them. However, as a same gender married couple with a child, they felt like some attorneys were not affirming their relationship. “They [other prospective attorneys] were not the ones we needed. They did not provide the security we needed,” Shania says.
At the end of 2021, Shania found Miriam and the Airington Law team. The immigration team immediately re-filed the case for reconsideration. The case was not approved overnight. Shania and Rachel had an interview at USCIS, where the officer made inappropriate comments about their relationship. The civil surgeon who prepared the medical records made a mistake on a required form, causing another delay in the case.
Our team at Airington Law worked closely with Shania and Rachel to navigate each hurdle and provide reassurance along the way. In July 2022, Shania finally received her permanent residency. She felt overwhelming relief knowing that her family’s future in the U.S. was secure. Now that her stressful journey has come to a successful end, Shania recommends that everyone seek out professional help when attempting to immigrate to the United States. As Shania learned, even a straightforward case can hit roadblocks.
“Sometimes it’s not your fault,” said Shania.
Her advice: “Hire Airington Law.”
A good immigration attorney will know exactly how to file, when to file, and how to hold the right parties accountable for their clients' future. Most importantly, the right attorney will honor and respect your family, no matter what.
To contact the team at Airington Law, call (804) 294-2719 or submit an online contact form here.