Fallen Through The Cracks

In addition to newly-arrived immigrants and temporary residents applying for citizenship, Just Neighbors also works with clients who, for one reason or another, have fallen through the cracks and lost the benefits of legal status. One such case occurred when a Haitian man named Matthew came to Just Neighbors for help. Although well-educated, charismatic, and suffering from chronic health problems, Matthew was living in a homeless shelter and lacked any documentation of legal residency. Just Neighbors suggested that he apply for temporary protected status (which was then offered to Haitians in the wake of a severe earthquake), but Matthew insisted that, several years prior, he had entered the United States as a lawful permanent resident (LPR) and obtained a green card, which he lost after becoming homeless. At that point, he simply had no way of proving his LPR status.

A Just Neighbors attorney began working with Matthew. First, they submitted a Freedom of Information Act request and obtained a copy of Matthew’s immigration record, which validated his story. Then a background check ensured he was safe to apply. The final hurdle was a $540 application fee for a replacement green card, something that few waivers were ever obtained for. However, thanks to diligent work by Just Neighbors attorneys, Matthew received a fee waiver, and not long after his green card arrived at the Just Neighbors office.

When Matthew came by to pick up his new green card, he brought three handwritten notes thanking the volunteers and attorneys for their work. He wrote, “Words can’t explain how grateful I feel for all the help and encouragement I’d received from you all my family [sic]. May God bless you with good health and prosperity to you and your family. Thank you so very much.”

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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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