North Carolina readers of this blog who are interested in immigration issues may want to read the story of a Yugoslavian woman who has been in the United States nearly her entire life but was denied a green card because of a missed deadline. The woman is currently 34 years old and living in another state. She came to America as an immigrant with her family just after her first birthday.
The woman and her family were granted temporary amnesty by a program initiated by then-president Ronald Reagan. The program offered a one-time chance for illegal immigrants, whether in North Carolina or elsewhere, to achieve legal status. It was a two-step process that had to reach completion within a three-and-a-half year time frame.
Step one was to file an application for temporary residency. The second step was to apply for permanent residency and citizenship. The first step took place within the allotted time, but the second was not submitted until more than a year-and-a-half after the deadline had passed. The woman claims her attorney at the time was responsible for the delay. She was 14 years old at the time.
Almost 20 years ago, the woman's temporary approval for residency was revoked. She did not learn of this situation until recently. Once she knew of her precarious situation, she filed suit to have her immigration status fixed.
The judge wrote that she was sympathetic to the woman's cause but said she was unable to offer relief. She said the law was clear, and immigration applications are not eligible for review in court if their rejection was based on missed deadlines. The suit was dismissed.
For this woman, situations that occurred when she was a child are now affecting her immigrant status as an adult. She is not alone in this -- many people who came here as young children have been in America their entire life but still do not have legal status. For them, as well as for the woman, a thorough understanding of their legal options will be invaluable as they continue with their quest for American citizenship.
Source: New York Daily News, "Judge dismisses suit from Yugoslavian immigrant whose green card bid was denied for being late", Erica Pearson, March 31, 2014