Aanna (0:00) - If you could please introduce yourself, Colleen, to the audience.
Colleen (0:05) - Sure. My name is Colleen. Yes. I am an attorney at Samuel's Yolande cancer in downtown Portland. I guess as it relates to immigration I met and married my husband. We met back in 2014 and we got married in 2016. I can't remember what the specific forms are at this point, but we filed, we filed documents to allow him to become a permanent residence through our marriage. And then have since been kind of going through that process and about a month ago or no, on July 1st. So 20 days ago he became a U.S. citizen. So you've seen the whole process all the way through. And what's your experience or your relationship to the Passage? So I worked with Passage while I was in law school and I can't remember, I should've looked at my resume before this meeting, but I think I was there in 2018 and maybe summer of 2019. I started, my role was an extern and then moved into a sort of law clerk capacity, um, and worked closely with the attorneys and the staff there to help process the forms, help process applications, and prepare for interviews with USCIS.
Aanna (1:41) - And what was your immigration experience before you started working with Passage or before you had your husband's case?
Colleen (1:49) - So my husband's and my experience with immigration was separate. Then my work at Passage law began. I started our application process before I was working at Passage. And so they sort of didn't overlap in that sense. But my experience through filing all of the forms and the application process sort of helped me give perspectives to clients while I was working at Passage. So kind of give them to give our clients a more personal experience and let them know from the client side and the applicant side of the process with that perspective would be like so that they could kind of get an idea what they were getting into. And then I could help advise from that respect. My work with Passage, like I said, was sort of independent of our application, my husband's and my application.
Aanna (2:47) - Could you speak more specifically, or maybe with a couple of examples to show how that experience with your husband's case informed your work with Passage clients?
Colleen (2:60) - Sure. So a lot of the cases that I helped out on at Passage had to do with our client Passage clients who were applying to gain their permanent residency through marriage. And so part of that process is to file all the paperwork, submit all of your letters of your friends and family photos of you and your significant other and then attend an interview at USCIS. And so since my husband and I went through that entire process, you know, a couple of years prior, I was able to kind of explain to the clients, like what types of questions would be asked during the interview and what sorts of photos are the USCIS officers looking for and the type of letters and what, you know, the best way to ask your friends and your family and stuff like that. I can't, I can't necessarily remember a particular case Passage and the clients that were there, but I'm trying to think. Yeah, I don't know. And I don't know that I would be able to mention any names but yeah, it was, it was kind of a unique experience. I think that I was able to kind of go through the process myself and then hope, you know, help them, explain to the clients with what it feels like from, I guess, the applicant's point of view.
Aanna (4:30) - What do you think would have made the U.S. immigration system better to navigate, easier to navigate?
Colleen (4:38) - The whole system itself?
Aanna (4:40) - Yeah. With your experience.
Colleen (4:42) - Oh gosh. You guys, USCIS is a huge beast and they have more work than they can handle. So I think, I don't even know. I guess the better way to navigate the system would be to just have more USDA's officers that are, that are able to kind of like help out. I think especially with COVID it sort of pushed back the timelines for everything. And so most people are just waiting. A lot of our friends are in the same situation and a lot of our friends are waiting on their DACA application. And so I think what would, what would help the process would just be maybe more staff, I think, to, you know, get through all the applications and it's mostly just a waiting thing.