Project Hope: Overcoming Legal Hurdles for Family Reunification

Through a recent case at Project Hope, a CLINIC affiliate in Ohio, CLINIC staff were able to help a family from Mexico reunite in the United States after they faced challenges getting their older children through the bureaucratic and legal hurdles that could have prevented them from immigrating together.

A photo of Alan and Alfredo.
This photo is of Alfredo (left) and Alan (right) after they were reunited in the U.S.

Sister Andrea Inkrott is a Sister of St. Francis who works with immigrant families at Project Hope, a CLINIC affiliate in Archbold, Ohio, as a Department of Justice accredited representative. Sr. Andrea had a client, Alfredo, with three sons, some of whom were nearing adulthood. Originally from Mexico, Alfredo had become a U.S. Legal Permanent Resident, or LPR, through the petition of his father, who had become a citizen several years prior. Now that Alfredo had gained legal status, he wanted to petition for his wife and sons to immigrate to the United States as well.

Alfredo was concerned because one of his sons was over 18 — past the age for which he would be able to immigrate on the same I-130 petition with his brothers. He contacted Project Hope for help. Would this oldest son, Alan, be able to immigrate with his family, or would he have to remain in Mexico without them?

Sr. Andrea took on the case and reached out to CLINIC attorneys Kristina Karpinski and Ilissa Mira for advice. They brought up the possibility of Alan immigrating as a derivative on his grandfather’s — Alfredo’s father’s — initial immigration petition. But the catch would be that all consulate processing would need to happen before Alan turned 21 in April 2022 — just a few months away. Karpinski suggested communicating with the Mexican consulate to see if an interview would be able to be scheduled before then.

Sr. Andrea began to work with Alfredo and Alan to follow the necessary steps to get an interview with the consulate.

“All the while, the impending date of Alan’s 21st birthday in April was hanging over me,” Sr. Andrea said.

One of the communications from the consulate in March 2022 brought a sense of relief when the official notified Project Hope that Alan had received the approval of an emergency interview as following to join on his father’s approved I-130 petition. Also included in the message was that his date of completing 21 years of age was extended under the Patriot Act for visa validity for 45 days beyond the applicant’s 21st birthday. This meant that Alan would not officially turn 21 until June 2022 — buying the family extra time, which would prove essential.

Sister Andrea continued to communicate back and forth with Karpinski and Mira to gather the necessary paperwork for the emergency interview at the end of April. Everything had to be in order for the interview to go successfully, because this was the one opportunity for Alan to immigrate at that time.

Although he was located in southern Mexico, and the consulate was in Ciudad Juárez, step-by-step Alan and his father worked with Project Hope and CLINIC attorneys to get the necessary paperwork for the interview. All seemed ready — but the family waited anxiously for the interview to occur.

One day in early June, Alan texted Sr. Andrea in the late afternoon to say that all had gone as planned and he was in the United States. Sr. Andrea rejoiced with Alan and Alfredo at the happy reunion that could now take place.

“Thanks to God, but also thanks to the CLINIC lawyers, Ilissa Mira and Kristina Karpinski!” Sr. Andrea wrote. “Their guidance was crucial to getting this happy ending. There were so many steps and suggestions on where and how to get in communication with the consulate that I had not had experience with before. The family was very happy, and I have new knowledge and experience to carry with me into future cases.”