01 Apr Zealous Representation Leads to Family Reunification During COVID-19
By: Flomy Javier Diza
Reeves Immigration Law Group (RILG) achieved another immigration success when they reunited a father with his minor daughter in the United States. Gerald* retained RILG to assist his daughter, Julia*, who was sadly about to age out and not be eligible to immigrate to the U.S for several years.
In 2010, Gerald immigrated to the U.S. as the unmarried son of a lawful permanent resident. At that time, he left his daughter in the Philippines, who had just turned 10 years old. Knowing the difficulty of raising a child as a single parent, Gerald allowed his daughter to remain with family in the Philippines. Only in early 2020, when Gerald realized that his daughter was about to age out, did he begin the process of bringing her to the U.S. For reference, the term “age out” refers to a child turning 21-years-old and becoming ineligible to immigrate to the U.S. with their parent since they are no longer a “child.” The difference between being considered a “child” and “ageing out” could be 10-15 years of separation, heartache, and longing to be reunited with your family.
Gerald was assisted by Attorney Flomy J. Diza, a senior Partner at RILG. Fortunately for Gerald, Attorney Diza explained to him that there was a way to guarantee that his daughter would be able to immigrate as a child under the principle of “following-to-join.”. “Following-to-join” applied to Julia in this case, as she was able to acquire her immigration status as a derivative of the petition that had been filed for her father.
However, Attorney Diza explained that since Julia was still a minor, she needed to obtain her Immigrant Visa and enter the US before her 21st birthday. Attorney Diza pointed out that the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA), a law that protects children from aging out, did not apply to Julia because she failed to seek to acquire her Immigrant Visa within the required period of time.
Attorney Diza and his San Francisco and Makati team prepared a following-to-join packet and submitted it at the U.S. Embassy in Manila. They were confident Julia would be in U.S. soon, but unfortunately, they would face a number of obstacles over the next several months. Due to COVID-19, there were stay-at-home orders, mandatory quarantines for Metro Manila, Embassy closings resulting in cancelled interviews, and President Trump even suspended the entry of immigrants to the U.S. Gerald and Julia’s hopes for reuniting in the U.S. were fading, and almost seemed impossible.
But Atty. Diza and his team refused to give up! Everyone at RILG was determined to reunite this family. They began making daily phone calls, sending repeated e-mails, and constantly following-up with the Embassy. And Atty. Diza smartly pointed out that despite the Trump’s administration suspension of the entry of immigrants, Julia’s case fell under an exception because she was about to age out.
The Embassy finally relented and scheduled Julia for an interview. She was prepared with the necessary documents and did everything she could to make sure her application was approved. Julia passed the interview, and she immigrated to the U.S. in Feb. 2021 . . . shortly before she turned 21 years old. It was a long and stressful process, but now that it is finally over, Gerald and Julia are already thinking about how to celebrate Julia’s 21st birthday in the U.S.
*Our client’s real name was withheld to protect his privacy.