We are blessed to have chosen a legal discipline where we truly get to help people on a daily basis. To that end, some of the most rewarding and inspiring moments in our daily fight(s) are when we win cases for persons who have experienced significant tragedy in their lives. One such victory occurred last week and we are pleased to share it with our readership now.
We were retained by an elderly widow whose hopes had been all but dashed after visiting immigration attorney after immigration attorney who informed her that nothing could be done about her case. They were wrong. Why? Our client's application for lawful permanent residency was granted, despite the fact that her petitioning husband had passed away albeit only after five months of marriage.
Nearly 10 years ago, our client met and married the love of her life. Unfortunately, the wedding bliss was very short-lived for as mentioned above, after only 5 months of marriage, our client's husband suffered a fatal heart attack while giving a sermon to a very large congregation of the church where he was a pastor. Understandably, her world came crashing down. In an instant, our client not only became a widow and worse yet, was left with nothing: no job and no ability to stay in the United States because the law at that time did not offer any immigration options for widows of United States citizens where the marriage was less than two years in existence.
In light of recent changes to the law pertaining to the death of a petitioner, coupled with our knowledge of the same, we were able to successfully prosecute our client's application for lawful permanent residency. In fact, the officer that adjudicated the application informed us that ours was the first individual to benefit from the new changes referenced above. In short, new immigration law(s) permit the spouses of deceased United States citizens to obtain green cards in the United States.
The Department of Homeland Security Appropriation Act, passed by Congress on October 28, 2009, includes two measures addressing the rights of surviving spouses of United States citizens and survivors petitioned by relatives other than spouses. In a nutshell, the Act effectively eliminates so called "widow penalty," which provided for automatic denials of visa petitions filed by United States citizens for their spouses if the death of the citizen occurred prior to adjudication and prior to the second wedding anniversary. Instead, widows and widowers of United States citizens are now permitted to self-petition as long as their marriages were entered in good faith, even if the parties were married for less than 2 years at the time of the citizen spouses' untimely deaths.
Our client's situation fell squarely under the provisions of the new law. We helped her file the appropriate self-petition last fall, which was quickly approved. She then applied for her green card and attended her interview last week where she was granted her permanent status in the United States. In the meantime, we were able to obtain an advanced parole for her. It was truly touching to see our client cry tears of joy and relief when the interviewing officer took her hand and congratulated her on becoming the newest green card holder under the new law. As a result, she can now live her life without worrying about her immigration future. Equally but if not more important, our client can now travel worry free back to her home country and attend her eldest son's wedding after being away for ten long years.
While each individual case turns on specific facts and circumstances, we suspect that there many people in the United States who can benefit from the new law. Such persons are strongly encouraged to seek professional advice from reputed immigration attorneys to see if their lives can also be changed for the better.