Klinke Immigration “opened” on October 1, 2012, but the office was just an empty shell. There were desks to build, software to install, curtains to hang. On October 2nd, my friend and fellow-attorney allowed me to use his office to meet a potential referral in his office in Canton. The couple I met that day was kind and optimistic, but the husband desperately needed to fix his immigration status – he’d been arrested for the second time for driving without a license.
Little did Marcos or Katie know that when they signed a contract with me that we were starting on a path that would take us over four years to compete. The provisional waiver (I-601A)program had recently begun and it looked to be an excellent option for the family. Even though Marcos would have to return home to Guatemala, it would only be for a few weeks and not for months.
Marcos and Katie struggled. He got a DUI and it put the I-601A option in jeopardy. Katie, the main breadwinner, lost her job, making government and legal fees nearly out of reach.
When step one was done and the I-130 had been approved, it took over a year to move on to the next step. Katie was busy holding down multiple jobs and collecting medical records, putting together budgets, labeling family photos, and writing her personal statement of what her husband meant to her – it was too much.
Katie’s statement, which is the heart of the I-601A, should have been multiple pages of agony over the thought of her husband never being able to return to the United States…well, at one page, it left a lot to be desired. I can’t write the statement for her since I don’t lead her life, but after working on hundreds of waiver applications, I know what USCIS likes to see. I explained to her that she needed to work harder, dig deeper, allow herself to open up. After several months of going nowhere, I told her that if submitted the I-601A application the way it was, the case would likely be denied.
She finally told me what had been keeping her from working on the case. Yes, she was busy with work, but it was her teenage daughter who took up most of her time. She had become depressed and suicidal. Part of the reason, according to her therapist, was because of the threat of immigration hanging over her father’s head.
The sadder the story, the stronger the case – that’s my motto when it comes to working on waivers. After telling Katie how sorry I was to hear about her daughter, I explained that this type of hardship – the sleepless nights, the expensive therapy, the fear of losing not only her husband but also her daughter – all of this was information that could win the case.
Katie found the strength to put down her fears and anxiety in her statement. Within a few weeks, we filed the waiver and it was approved without question.
It still took another ten months to get everything together to get Marcos ready for his visa interview in Guatemala. But he went in mid-December and on December 15th, his immigrant visa was approved. He was able to be home with his wife and children for Christmas – and for the first time, he was able to celebrate as a lawful permanent resident. No present under the tree could be more precious than having the family together.
On December 20th, four years and two months after we started, I closed file 12-003. At times, I was concerned that we wouldn’t be able to finish. But Marcos and Katie found the strength to come through, even while they endured difficult times.
It’s strange not to see Marcos and Katie on my “active case” list, but I’m happy to know that they are no longer working on their case, but they are working on their lives – lives without fear.
** Names have been changed to preserve confidentiality.