My fifth client finally won her case. I’ll call her Lili. She’s from Vietnam.
Nearly two years ago, Lili hired me just after my office opened in October 2012. Lili speaks no English, and no one in my office speaks Vietnamese, so working with her was a challenge. She brought friends and family in to translate, but it is always difficult when there is a major language barrier between client and attorney.
Lili had already received a conditional green card, but her husband turned abusive. She needed to file to remove the conditions but had only limited paperwork because when she left her home to seek safety, she only took her phone and the clothes she had on her. All of their joint documents, like bank statements and photographs, were left behind. We did the best we could and still put together a good application package.
When we received the biometrics notice – the appointment letter to get fingerprints taken – I contacted Lili’s translator and explained that she needed to go and follow the instructions on the form. I trusted Lili had gone and everything was fine.
We waited another eight months (not uncommon) for a decision to come. It was a denial.
However, the denial wasn’t because of the lack of joint documents, but because Lili had failed to get her fingerprints taken. I spoke with the translator and we sorted through the miscommunication.
Thankfully, the Vermont Service Center was able to reopen the case when I explained what had happened. A new biometrics notice was issued and this time Lili went.
A few months later, we received a letter from the Vermont Service Center. They wanted more evidence about the relationship between Lili and her husband.
Lili dug through her records and did the best she could. There wasn’t much more to add, but in response to the Vermont Service Center, I reminded them about the law and about the special standards and policies in place for victims of abuse. USCIS knows that people who flee an abusive relationship may not have the mindset to collect paperwork on the way out the door.
Months and months passed by. Finally, 22 months after Lili hired me, her case was approved! There were special challenges in this case, but we always found a way to work around them and to succeed.
Obstacles in immigration are all too common. Don’t let them intimidate you. Keep fighting and, if necessary, get help. Having a good partner on your side to fight with you can make all the difference sometimes.