One of the first things I learned in practicing immigration law is that things rarely go as planned. No matter how simple or clean a case may seem, the government can find ways to keep it interesting.
Last month, we received a frantic email and phone call from a client in Bogota. They had gone down to Colombia for his immigrant visa interview and something had gone terribly wrong.
The couple had an approved I-130 and I-601A waiver. The last step in getting the husband legal status was for him to return to Colombia and apply for an immigrant visa.
The process was supposed to be straight forward. When the interview ended, the officer told our client that the immigrant visa had been approved. The family left the Embassy in high spirits and celebrated that evening.
The following morning, they received a phone call from the Embassy stating there had been a mistake. They needed our client to come in for a second interview.
I cannot imagine the shock they went through. When I first heard about it, I was afraid it was a scam.
However, an official email from the Embassy quickly showed that the second interview request was legitimate. The Embassy did not provide any hint as to what the problem may be, so we were left to wonder what dark secret was lurking in the file.
I emailed the Embassy to see if I could gain any information from them. To their credit, I received a response within 24 hours, but it simply said that a second interview was necessary. Our client had to remain in a state of limbo for six days, waiting for his second interview to arrive. He didn’t know if he would make it back to the U.S. for Christmas, or if he would even make it home at all.
The day of the second interview came and we sat by the phone, anxiously awaiting word from our client on what happened. The connection was horrible, but we could hear “approved” amidst the crackling of the phone line. A short while later, he called with a full update.
There was a glitch in the system. Someone with a similar name had been caught trying to enter the United States and that incident was recorded in our client’s file. A simple administrative error cost our client and his family untold stress, sleepless nights, and uncertainty.
It could have been worse – the mistake was caught. But it could have cost him his visa and his life in the United States.
Our client has returned home and this ordeal is over.
If the visa had been denied, I don’t know if we could have gotten our client back to his home here in the United States. No one could have foreseen such a strange twist of events. It’s as though we have to expect the unexpected at every turn with immigration. No matter how well you prepare, how amazing your documents are, how well-respected your attorney is, there is always something that the government can surprise you with.