Kati and Oscar
- How have you personally been exposed to/interacted with the U.S. immigration system? What specifically was your case?
Oscar - My case started as getting permanent residence through marriage and has finally finished with my naturalization just a few weeks ago. I am now a US citizen. This process took about 5 years.
- What was your immigration experience before hiring Passage?
Oscar - Prior to Passage Law, I worked with an attorney in Kansas that I never personally met or even talked to. My dad was managing my case and so, I would only submit papers and get any documents via mail. I can’t say it was a bad experience, but I also didn’t really develop ay sort of “tie” with this attorney. This was the big difference at Passage where it truly felt like everyone cared about us and my outcome. It wasn’t a purely transactional and more common attorney-client relationship.
Kati - I had none, but was overwhelmed everything it would take for us to do this by ourselves! It was definitely a task where we needed significant help.
- What made the U.S. immigration system difficult to navigate?
Oscar - It’s an incredibly complex system and the applications/ requirements are very confusing. The questions asked are also baffling at times. More importantly, the immigration system is truly a personalized system meaning that no two cases are the same. You may hear that your friend from X country just got a Green Card and assume it should be easy because of similar backgrounds and conditions, but that is not the case. You really need an attorney to better understand your specific case and the requirements needed to get residence or citizenship.
Kati - Everything! Most people born in the US have no idea what our immigration system is like or what it takes to successfully navigate it. There are so many hoops and hurdles; everything has to be filled out perfectly, and keeping track of all the necessary documents and additional information needed and regularly updating it all is not easy.
- What would’ve made the U.S. immigration system easier to navigate? What would you hope to change about the system?
Oscar - I think the applications are very redundant, confusing, and sometimes simply absurd. I have very little patience with forms and questionnaires. As an example, getting asked whether I was part of the nazi party in the 1940’s. Obviously, based on my DOB, this and the follow-up questions shouldn’t even be included. It seems like the bureaucratic part could be reduced significantly to speed up the process. Perhaps also making the evidence of bonafide marriage simpler so we don’t have to submit quite literally hundreds, if not thousands of sheets of paper. I truly believe this is unnecessary as no-one will be going through all of the submitted papers.
- How did Passage help you along in the process? What was different about working with Passage, compared to previous attorneys?
Oscar - Passage Law made the process very easy from the beginning by sending a detailed outline of what their services would include, initial questionnaires and just overall information applicable to my case. Passage also made it very easy to upload documents through a client folder. They then took care of printing, scanning and mailing everything. All of this may seem inconsequential at first but, again, when you are submitting years of marriage evidence, it makes a big difference. As the process developed, Passage would always inform me when they received a notice and what was the next step. They were always vigilant for any updates and would communicate with me immediately. This was very encouraging. Throughout the process, everyone at Passage — starting with Erick — was always available to email, meet or talk about any questions we had. I’m sure some were quite silly questions, but when you are going through this process (particularly during the previous administration) you truly want to be reassured that everything is going in the right direction.
Kati - Passage Law was always incredibly responsive, and while the whole process of immigration can be stressful, working with Passage was nothing but a great experience. The whole team at Passage was supportive, and, moreover, truly in it to help people.
- From what you have learned from your experience, what insight would you pass on to people who are currently dealing with their own immigration processes/challenges?
Oscar - Again, I believe it’s such a personal journey mainly because each case is treated differently by USCIS that it’s difficult to give specific advice. However, for immigrants married to US citizens in the process of obtaining their Green Card, I would recommend being more aware of shared accounts, bills, etc. Anything that is official that contains both names will be very important. Most people would never even think about these things but you need a different mentality when going through these processes. As an example that will most likely not be applicable to anyone else, Kati and I rarely take pictures together so at times it was challenging to have enough pics to send to USCIS that could support our case for a bonafide marriage. Even when we were aware of it, we still simply forgot to take pictures together.
Kati - I think it’s hard to overstate how helpful having a knowledgeable legal team behind you is — yes, it’s an investment, but it also made our lives so much easier through what’s already an incredibly difficult process.