I have two immigration offices; one in Danbury, CT and one
in Port Chester, NY. We have been
serving clients from all over the world for over 30 years. Naturalization is the final stage in the
immigration process. The following is
inspired by true stories.
Charlie was born the youngest of five children, to a family
in Ecuador. His father, Estevan, worked
hard on various farms, trying to earn a living to support his family, but when
Charlie was born mentally challenged, his father decided to travel to the
United States to find a better life, and to be able to bring his family to the
US so that Charlie could get the medical treatment he needed.
Estevan traveled by bus, and on foot, and eventually crossed
the Rio Grande River, traveling across the desert to take a plane to
Connecticut. He worked at whatever odd
jobs he could find as a day laborer, living in a small room that he rented, and
sending money home to his family. He
worked very hard and was eager to learn as much as he could. One of the builders noticed Estevan’s work
ethic and was impressed. Together they
came to my office to find out if this builder could sponsor Estevan to become
legal in the US. The process took over 6
years, during which time, Estevan missed his family. There were days that he thought he would not
be able to endure the separation.
After more than 6 years, the process was finally almost at
an end, and Estevan had his personal interview with the Immigration Office in
Hartford, CT and received his “green card” in the mail shortly after his
interview. The day he received his green
card in the mail, he cried.
Next, we started the papers to bring his wife and family to
the US. The papers took over 1 ½ years more, but finally his wife and family
had their personal interviews at the US Consulate in Guayaquil, Ecuador, and
they were handed packets to take to the airport for their trip to JFK International
Airport in New York. When the family saw
Estevan waiting for them in the International Arrivals Terminal, they smiled
and ran to him. They each received their
green cards in the mail shortly after their arrival at JFK.
They all had to wait another 5 years before they could apply
for naturalization or US citizenship.
They were eager to become US citizens.
To qualify for citizenship, they had to meet certain criteria. They had to have their green cards and be
permanent residents for 5 years, they had to have been physically present in
the US for at least half that time, they couldn’t have any major criminal
convictions, the young male children had to show that they registered for
Selective Service, they had to be able to speak, read and write in English and
pass a US history/civics exam.
They all passed, and became US citizens, except
Charlie. Charlie could speak and
understand English because he attended school in the US. But Charlie couldn’t write very well and he
couldn’t understand the history exam at all.
The family thought about having Charlie remain a “green card
holder” or permanent resident forever.
But, when they traveled to visit their grandparents back in Ecuador,
Charlie always had to stand in a different line from the US citizens, and
Charlie got scared.
Charlie’s sister, Olivia, decided that her New Year’s
Resolution would be to help Charlie become a US citizen.
We asked a physician to complete a Medical Certification for
Disability Exceptions and filed a Request for a Disability Waiver, claiming
that Charlie had a disability or impairment that we believe qualified him for a
Waiver of the tests of English and US Government and history.
Charlie was scheduled again for his personal interview. Olivia could not come into the interview room
with Charlie. The Immigration Officer
reviewed the information and decided to approve our Request for a Waiver. The only item remaining was that Charlie had
to understand that he was becoming a US citizen.
The Immigration Officer asked Charlie if he wanted to be a
US citizen. Charlie just looked at him
blankly. The Officer tried again,
“Charlie, do you want to live in the United States or in Ecuador?”
“Ecuador!” stated Charlie. “I like Ecuador. I visit my grandma in Ecuador and she cooks
for me and I don’t have to go to work there!”
Charlie was very pleased with himself.
The Officer tried several more times, and each time, Charlie
answered that he wanted to go live in Ecuador because he was on vacation there
and didn’t have to go to work when he was on vacation.
The Officer could not approve naturalization for
We went out to the waiting room and explained to Olivia what
had happened. Charlie couldn’t
understand what he had done wrong. We
kept telling him that he did just fine.
Olivia took Charlie home and practiced and practiced with
him. It took us 2 more times scheduling
Charlie’s interviews in Hartford, but Olivia had made a promise to Charlie, and
she intended to abide by her resolution.
She reviewed the questions with Charlie over and over, trying to help
The third time we traveled up to Hartford, the Immigration
Officer asked Charlie if he wanted to be a US citizen.
“Yes!” proclaimed Charlie. “I want to live in the United States with my
family and I only want to go on vacation to Ecuador!”
Charlie became a US citizen.