Discovery of Unbeknownst Citizenship

Meena came to us because his wallet had been stolen, and his Green Card was in it. He needed our help in filing for a replacement Green Card. This case was slow going at first because we needed Meena’s help in gathering documents to apply for a fee waiver, since he did not have money to pay for a new Green Card.

However, as Just Neighbors began investigating Meena’s situation more closely, we realized that he was a minor with a Green Card when he came into the United States in 1999, and that later that year, his mother naturalized. Unbeknownst to both of them, he became a U.S. citizen in February 2001, due to a change in the law while he was still a minor.

The next trick was to obtain proof that Meena was a citizen. Through research and conversations with the Passport office, we learned that he could get a U.S. passport (proof of citizenship) by providing the following: his Ethiopian passport (with its dated entry stamp into the U.S.), his original birth certificate, his mother’s naturalization form, a small fee, and passport-sized photos.

When we called to share the exciting news with Meena, he was thrilled and shocked. He asked us three times to explain how this was possible! He can now fully enjoy the benefits of U.S. citizenship, and he was proud to have the opportunity to vote in the presidential election of 2012.

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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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