Home for the Holidays!

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Elsa and Erubiel have been married for four years, meeting when Elsa came into the Brooklyn restaurant where Erubiel worked. The two have been together ever since. Erubiel, a U.S. citizen, petitioned for legal permanent residency (“Green Card”) for Elsa.

In February of this year, Elsa applied for and received a waiver to travel to Guayaquil, Ecuador for an Embassy interview to obtain her Green Card. In July, with the travel waiver in hand, Elsa and Erubiel embarked to Ecuador– a country Elsa had not been to in over 22 years. During the interview, the consular officer questioned the validity of their marriage and refused the visa.

As a result of having her green card petition denied, Elsa was unable to return to the United States. Distraught, Erubiel was forced to leave Elsa behind while he returned to their home in the United States. Once back in the U.S., he sought legal assistance from New York Justice for Our Neighbors at our Hicksville United Methodist Church Clinic on Long Island.

TJ Mills, NY JFON’s managing attorney, agreed to take on the couple’s case after meeting with Erubiel. In support of their case, NY JFON diligently sent the Embassy over 200 pages documenting the validity of the marriage; requested intervention from the State Department legal office and Senator Gillibrand; and called and wrote the Embassy every two weeks. In the meantime, Elsa stayed with family in Guayaquil while the Embassy conducted further investigation and interviewed Elsa’s family members.

In the third month of Elsa’s gridlock with the consular office, Erubiel’s mother passed away. Erubiel tells us: “My mother’s passing added to the stress and anxiety I was experiencing while trying to get Elsa back home.” With his mother gone and his wife stranded nearly 3,000 miles away due to administrative scrutiny, the need for Elsa to return home took on new urgency.

On November 8, after 5 months of waiting, the consulate in Ecuador finally acquiesced. Erubiel remembers being at work when he received the message from TJ that Elsa’s Legal Permanent Residency had finally been approved. He immediately called her to celebrate. Elsa tells us: “As I was on the phone with Erubiel, my eyes welled with tears of joy.”

With her green card in hand, Elsa returned to New York and reunited with Erubiel. The timing allowed them to spend Thanksgiving together.

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