I am pleased and proud to report that last week this office obtained Lawful Permanent Residency status (“Green Cards”) for a Jewish Studies teacher at a Jewish Day School and his spouse, after years of struggling with other counsel. The couple arrived in the US in 2004 and had spent thousands of dollars and many sleepless nights in their bid to achieve legal status. When I met them they were willing to do almost anything – anything legal, that is – to advance their case.
Approximately 2 months ago the I-360 petition filed years ago by the teacher was approved and I offered to do the Adjustment of Status pro bono. Initially things were not looking promising. The Religious visa (non-minister) category upon which the application was based was set to expire at the end of September, and there was no way to know if Congress would vote for an extension or not. This meant that unless the Adjustment of Status was actually approved by September 30, the entire process would become irrelevant after all this time and money! So time was of the essence.
Without delay I worked with the clients late into the night gathering all the relevant documents and completing all of the paperwork. As a result, we were able to send everything off in record time. A couple of weeks later we received a Request for Further Evidence from USCIS, asking for proof that the spouse had maintained lawful non-immigrant status for the entire duration of her stay in the US. This material (at least for the years 2004 – 2007) should have been submitted together with a previous Adjustment of Status application filed back in 2007 by another attorney. However, when I contacted that attorney I learned that these documents had never been submitted. So I had my client frantically search for every old paystub, bank statement and other document that could help and about 48 hours later we were able to submit conclusive evidence of an unbroken chain of legal status for all these years. Even though a response was not due until October 17 I felt that if we acted speedily we might just get USCIS to adjudicate this case before the sunset provision kicked in on September 30th.
Indeed, the effort paid off. The “Green Cards” arrived about 3 weeks later and one very happy and relieved couple will now be able to relax – and go back to their home country to visit for the first time in more than 5 years.
And the lesson for my clients – save EVERYTHING! You never know when that bank statement or paystub from ages ago will rescue your petition. When in doubt, do not discard.