Citizenship – Long Awaited!

My mother said yes because she did not want my sister to be hurt. Otherwise she would not have agreed to the marriage. When my mother told me there was [to be a marriage] ceremony, I was so shocked. I thought it was too early for me, I wanted to do my studies. My mother told me I had to marry for my sister’s sake. We had a poor family. If my sister came back, with four kids, how would we survive?

Tragically, Just Neighbors has seen several marriages like Anna’s, in which a family of U.S. citizens returns to its home country to arrange a marriage for a physically or mentally disabled son. Anna and her parents were kept in ignorance of the groom’s condition. His parents forced Anna’s mother to consent to the marriage by threatening to harm Anna’s sister. As is the case in similar forced marriage situations, Anna was brought to the United States and kept in isolation in her in-laws home. Anna stayed with her profoundly disturbed husband for eight years, leaving the house only to work and giving her wages to her father-in-law.

How can Just Neighbors help in a situation like this? The wives Just Neighbors has helped have already left the marital home, and Just Neighbors helps them secure permanent green cards. Anna’s document situation should have been straightforward. The family had filed the appropriate applications seven years ago. Her type of application is usually processed within two years, unfortunately, it took longer.

Just a few days ago and after years of effort, Anna finally became a United States Citizen. Anna is remarkably appreciative and frequently says that she has “no words” to describe her gratitude to Just Neighbors. The last time Anna was in the office, she said “all of you are going to go to heaven when you die.” Her attorney responded, “well, thank you, but I hope it is not anytime soon.”

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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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