We have a great success story to share, of a young couple reunited just in time for Christmas.
Andy is a active duty member of the U.S. army. He’s also a combat veteran who served a tour of duty in Kandahar Province, where he was in a special unit assigned to protect army leadership.
Before deploying, Andy married Hayley, a Canadian citizen who was studying to become a naturopathic doctor. After Andy returned home, the two filed a visa petition for Hayley, who at the time was traveling frequently to the U.S. to visit Andy.
Unfortunately, the couple did not understand that once the visa petition was filed Hayley would not be able to re-enter the U.S. When she tried to visit Andy she was detained for hours at the border, then sent home. She tried again with the same result.
Andy contacted us to see if we could help.
Under a policy recently clarified by the Department of Homeland Security, the spouse of a military service member may seek a green card in the U.S. even if she entered illegally. The policy essentially forgives the illegal entry. The same law behind that policy gives Customs and Border Protection (CBP) the authority to allow a person into the U.S. so they can apply for a green card.
Although the new policy did not expressly cover Hayley, we prepared an application for Hayley to present at the border. Last night I traveled with Hayley and Andy to the border to present the application.
There is no right to an attorney at a border crossing, and I was ordered to leave the building, even though a supervisor later confirmed this was not appropriate. Hayley tried to present her application, but CBP would not even accept the filing fee. Refusing to consider her request, the CBP official ordered Hayley to return to Canada, even though she could have pursued a green card if she had sneaked across the border.
We responded quickly with an aggressive media campaign to draw attention to CBP’s thoughtless treatment of Hayley and Andy. Thank you to KOMO New Channel 4 and to the Tacoma News Tribune for drawing attention to this story.
Faced with the fact that they would be held accountable, CBP abruptly changed its mind. The Border Patrol initially offered to let Hayley stay in the U.S. for 30 days, but then relented and agreed to grant her a one-year stay – long enough to complete her green card application.
Andy will be heading up to Canada today to have Christmas with Hayley. Then the two will return to the U.S. to start their life together. It was a close call, where bureaucratic red tape could have kept this family apart. Instead we have a happy story to report, just in time for Christmas.