A Widow’s Green Card Journey: The Importance of Strategy in an Immigration Case
While having good documents and evidence are the foundation of success in an immigration case, identifying the best strategy early on and executing it well are the key to efficiently obtaining that success. Our office is pleased to share a client story that illustrates this concept.
When John Kufuor was about 30 years old, he had a unique opportunity to study in the U.S. He applied for a student visa and once it was granted, he enrolled himself at university in Texas. Once he finished his studies, he remained in the U.S. working, even after his visa ran out, and eventually met the woman who would later become his wife.
When he married his U.S. citizen girlfriend, they filed a Marriage Residency Petition (I-130/I-485) on their own. They did not understand the difficulties they were to face, due to the fact that she was older and had several children from a prior relationship. When the time came for their interview with the immigration official, they did not know what to expect and were not prepared. As a result, USCIS concluded that their testimony was inconsistent and their documentation was insufficient to prove that they had a valid (bona-fide) marriage. Their case was not approved and instead it was referred for further investigation.
While Kufour’s immigration process remained under investigation, his wife developed cancer and ultimately passed away. Under immigration law, this converted his Marriage Petition to a Widower’s Petition, which was still subject to the evidentiary requirements of a Marriage Petition. Subsequently, USCIS denied Kufour’s Residency Petition as a widower, for the reasons the petition was placed under investigation in the first place.
At this point Kufour understood that he needed professional assistance and was referred to our immigration law firm. Attorney FitzGerald recognized that Kufour was at risk of being put into removal/ deportation proceedings and would likely lose his permit to work. Attorney FitzGerald’s plan was to file an appeal of his I-130 Widower’s Visa Petition in order to temporarily maintain Kufour’s permission to work, based on the fact that USCIS used an improper analysis of the testimony given at the interview.
For example, USCIS claimed that the petitioner and his wife had given different answers as to his salary, when one of them had provided the pre-tax annual amount and the other one the equivalent of his after-tax paycheck, which in essence coincided. Also, USCIS claimed that they had given different answers about his step son’s first year in school, when one had given the year of the fall semester, while the other had given the year of the spring semester. In the same way, there were other details that had been misinterpreted by the immigration official.
At the same time, attorney FitzGerald would file an I-360 Widower’s Visa Petition, along with a new I-485 (Residency Petition), because new petitions are often processed faster than appeals, and they have a higher rate of approval.
Eventually, the Board of Immigration Appeals improperly rejected the appeal. While our office could have fought that erroneous rejection, this would have cost our client more time and resources. The fact that our office had adopted a “two-pronged” approach since the beginning, allowed our client to avoid this cost and, since we had already submitted a second residency application that was properly prepared with all of the required supporting evidence. This evidence included the couple’s bank, loan and property records, as well as the fact that our client had been accepted as the executor of his wife’s estate by a local court.
Our client was also able to renew his work authorization based on the second widow petition which was vital for him. When our client was called for the interview on his second residency petition, this time he had all the proper documentation and the case was approved the same day of the interview.
If you or someone that you know believe that may qualify for any immigration benefit, call our office in Boston to schedule an initial meeting with one of our immigration lawyers at 617-303-2600 (ext. 0) or schedule your appointment online.