CHICAGO (CBS) — They wanted to buy a home and start a family, but an Illinois couple’s life has been in limbo for more than nine months, because they’re stuck on opposite sides of the Canadian border.
CBS 2 Morning Insider Lauren Victory looks at an extreme example of confusion about U.S. immigration laws.
Longtime immigration lawyer Kristen Harris said, typically, when someone marries a U.S. citizen, that citizen petitions for permanent resident status for their spouse, also known as a green card. It usually takes about a year.
Her clients, Adam Schuman and his wife Mona Rahimi, applied for a green card a few months after their 2016 wedding, but it took three years for them to even get an interview with immigration services. Now, they might need to start the process over, because Mona couldn’t make the meeting with the feds.
“I miss Adam every day, every minute,” Mona said.
She’s stranded in Canada.
“All my life’s plans changed, just because of where I was born,” she said.
It started with a mistake nine months ago. Mona, who is Iranian, needed to renew her “advance parole” card to travel out of the country. That usually takes one or two months, but her January application was still “in process” in May, when she headed to a software engineering conference abroad.
“It was really a must for me to be there,” she said.
Adam said the idea was for him to go to Canada to give her the advance parole card once she arrived, but the card never came, and the feds weren’t pleased.
“That was not how it works,” Adam said.
Scrambling, their lawyers applied for a work visa, and Homeland Security approved one in October.
“I mean, we were ecstatic. We thought we had hit a home run, and that she was coming back,” Harris said.
However, two dreaded words popped up from the State Department: “administrative processing,” and that’s where it sat for nearly six months.
“The time it’s taking for each and every kind of immigration benefit has just ground to a near halt,” Harris said.
“If this is happening to somebody like me, then how many other people are out there?” Mona said.
The State Department refused to discuss specifics, but Mona’s case showed “updated” after CBS 2’s inquiries.
Mona’s case caught the attention of U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin’s office, but a representative said they haven’t received many answers either.