Over the summer, I met a woman who had gone through something no parent should ever have to endure.
Her son, who was only 30 years old, had just died unexpectedly. In the midst of dealing with his funeral, his estate, and the unimaginable grief of losing her only son, she also had to think about U.S. immigration laws.
The woman’s son had filed a petition for her to obtain her green card a few months prior to his death. When he died, the case was still pending.
Trying to do the right thing, she wrote a letter to USCIS explaining the situation. She didn’t have an attorney and didn’t know what her options were – could the case continue without her son? Was the case over and did she have to leave the U.S. immediately?
USCIS sent her back a letter. Instead of asking for the additional evidence they needed to continue processing her case with a now-deceased petitioner, they simply denied her case. They said that she asked for the application to be withdrawn.
That’s when she came to see me. I couldn’t believe how callous and unjust USCIS had been. She showed me a copy of the letter she sent to USCIS. Nowhere did she ask to withdraw the application. She said her son had passed away and she said she needed help.
There are laws and guidelines for how cases just like hers can continue where the petitioner dies while the green card case remains pending.
To have USCIS so blithely deny her case without any mention of this opportunity was abhorrent. How could they do that to a woman who had already lost so much? Why would they deny her the ability to remain in the United States with her grandchild and widowed daughter-in-law?
We appealed and her case was recently reopened, thankfully. What would have happened to her, though, if she hadn’t come to talk with me, or if she hadn’t made an appointment in time (you only have 30 days from the denial to file an appeal)?
It truly gives me chills to think about what happens to those who do not have the resources to fight USCIS when they make such blatantly wrong decisions.