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Ruling may help 'aged out' kids gain U.S. citizenship

The Supreme Court is evaluating a lawsuit that could protect the rights of people who "aged out" of their family's attempt to obtain a visa to live in North Carolina or elsewhere in the United States. Under the current law, people who do not have U.S. citizenship, but are covered under their parent's visa bid, lose that status once they turn 21. That can result in deportation and exile from their family and home.

About 12 years ago, Congress enacted protections for immigrant children who reached their 21st birthday before their family's' green card applications were processed. This can happen due to the large backlog of requests, which can take 10 or more years to process. Court rulings have been mixed regarding to whom the law applies. Some have determined that applications started by a parent are the only ones that are applicable. Other rulings say applications are valid if they are made by the petitioner's extended family -- like grandparents, aunts or uncles.

For a young woman who came to the United States when she was young, the Supreme Court's decision will come too late to help her cause. The woman's grandmother applied for green cards on behalf of her family several decades ago. There were several complications, and the woman found herself deported to a country she hadn't live in since she was very young.

The woman has since returned to the United States. She was able to do so on humanitarian parole. The woman has a medical condition that requires medication that is not available in her home country. She is able to get it in this country, so officials have granted her request to return -- at least for now. Her status requires annual review, and she has no guarantees it will be renewed.

The laws surrounding immigration are complex and may be difficult for a layman living in North Carolina or anywhere else in the nation to understand. As the Supreme Court considers the landmark immigration case before them, many families are waiting to hear how the ruling will affect their bids for U.S. citizenship. Understanding all the ramifications of the ruling and how it applies in their situation will help ensure their future success.

Source: New York Daily News, "US Supreme Court may help 'aged out' immigrant kids get back on citizenship track," Erica Pearson, Jan. 19, 2014

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