It took more than 9 years, but finally, F became a US citizen.
F, a 49-year-old woman originally from Pakistan, has been living in the U.S. for more than 20 years as a lawful permanent resident. Seven years after she first applied for U.S. citizenship in 2007, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security denied her application due to alleged inconsistencies in her personal history and testimony, specifically her marital status.
Unsure of what to do on her own, F visited CVLS’ American Immigration Lawyers Association Legal Clinic where volunteer Rich Hanus took on her case and began working on F’s appeal to the DHS. Rich discovered the reasoning behind the “inconsistencies” with F’s marital status – F herself was unsure of her marital status.
While in fact F had never been legally married, there had been two occasions where extended family members sought to arrange a marriage for her. One instance involved an actual ceremony back in Pakistan, the other just the signing of paperwork. Although neither led to a legal marriage, family members told her the marriages were valid, so F thought maybe they were. Eventually, she realized they were not valid, but her presentation of this history came off as evasive and inconsistent, especially during aggressive follow-up interviews with DHS officials. DHS denied her application because officials concluded she misrepresented her marital history and, therefore, did not possess the requisite “good moral character” for naturalization.
Rich advocated steadily on F’s behalf for two years until he won her appeal. He convinced DHS officials that his client’s inconsistencies were innocent and immaterial misunderstandings of the true legal nature of the “arranged marriage” events. While F was effusively appreciative throughout the process, she celebrated her victory by sending Rich a photo of herself at the ceremony where she took her oath of citizenship.