A Very Happy Ending

Last October we used Facebook to solicit donations toward the filing fees for our little client “Ali.”  Ali’s father had entered the U.S. in 2004 and sought asylum from Burma on religious and political grounds. On his application he included his wife, who was still abroad. After nearly five years, our client’s asylum case was finally approved in 2009. Soon after, he flew to meet his wife in Bangladesh, where she had fled for safety to await their reunion. Nine months later their first child was born. The wife received permission to enter the U.S. as a derivative asylee, but the son was not eligible for that status because he was conceived after the father’s asylum application was approved.

Fortunately, Ali was permitted to enter the United States under humanitarian parole.  Humanitarian parole is difficult to obtain, but is precisely for situations like Ali’s in which the rules just don’t work.  When Ali’s father became a lawful permanent resident, he could apply for Ali to become a lawful permanent resident and the odd situation would be resolved.  The problem is that moving from asylum to a family petition means that Ali and his father would not be eligible for a fee waiver.  The filing fee was beyond the family’s ability to pay, and Just Neighbors posted an appeal on Facebook to raise funds for the filing fee.

Thanks to the generosity of our Facebook Friends, we were able to file Ali’s application soon after our appeal for help.   Donors contributed $1,000 and the family added $400.  Our volunteer Cynthia Ingersoll accompanied Ali and his father to his immigration interview earlier this month, and we learned on Aug. 7 that his application was approved.  Because Ali’s father had, in the meantime, become a U.S. citizen, approval of Ali’s application had the legal effect of granting him citizenship as well.  Entering third grade this fall, he is now a thoroughly all-American boy!

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The mission of Just Neighbors is to provide immigration legal services to low-income immigrants and refugees in Virginia, especially those who are most vulnerable. We also seek to foster enriching experiences that enhance awareness and mutual understanding among our clients, volunteers, staff and community.

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