Securing Permanent Residency for a Toddler

Last week, the Immigration Clinic secured a grant of lawful permanent residency for one of our youngest clients to date: the daughter of one of our Afghan allies.

In the days before Kabul fell, many Afghan allies were still receiving their visas and other documents from the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, allowing them to leave Afghanistan and enter the United States. One ally had been approved for his green card based on his service with the U.S. military, and in the days after the fall of Kabul, he was waiting on the green card for his newborn baby, P*. Unfortunately, their family was evacuated to the United States before Baby P received her green card. All of her documents, including her passport, were lost in the chaos of the evacuation and closing of the U.S. consulate in Kabul. Although her parents were able to enter the United States as lawful permanent residents, because Baby P had not been able to complete the process in Afghanistan, was admitted with temporary OAR parole status. In the summer of 2022, Baby P’s family turned to the Immigration Clinic for help.

Upon first taking the case, Clinic Director Professor Kern-Scheerer began “writing emails around the world” to try to find Baby P’s passport in the hopes that the documentation of her approved green card would already be in her passport. If her passport could be found, maybe her status would be too. After reaching out to embassies and consulates around the world who may have had her documents (or known how to get them), nothing turned up.

With no luck in finding the documents, the Clinic turned its attention to two important applications. First, the Clinic needed to ensure that Baby P could lawfully remain in the United States for more than one year.  One of the Clinic’s summer interns, Francesca Babetski, J.D. Class of 2023, worked with Professor Kern-Scheerer to correct Baby P’s parole. Because Baby P and her family were some of the first evacuated Afghans to arrive in the United States, her parole was only good for one year, rather than the two years guaranteed under OAR parole. Francesca and Professor Kern-Scheerer worked to submit the necessary paperwork to the Department of Homeland Security to correct her parole and ensure that she did not fall out of lawful status. Thankfully, that request was granted in a matter of weeks.

“Working in the Immigration Clinic last summer was a great experience, and I am glad to have had the opportunity to work on Baby P’s case,” said Francesca. “The stakes were high because P’s ability to stay in the country long-term with her parents was on the line, so it was important to develop a plan specifically tailored to her complex and uncommon circumstances. In particular, I saw how contacting anyone and everyone who might be able to help was crucial to the success of the case. That strategy may not have resulted in the Clinic being able to locate P’s missing paperwork, but it did get her parole status corrected so that she would have valuable additional time to receive her green card.”

After securing more time for Baby P in the United States, the team focused on reapplying for lawful permanent residency. Francesca again worked with Professor Kern-Scheerer to prepare Baby P’s application for lawful permanent residency.

After many months, Baby P was scheduled for her green card interview. Victoria Nauman, J.D. Class of 2023, was assigned to work on Baby P’s case in preparation for her interview.

Victoria Nauman, J.D. Class of 2023, with Immigration Clinic Director Professor Kern-Scheerer after Baby P’s green card interview. (Spring 2023)

One significant challenge in the case was securing Form I-693, Report of Immigration Medical Examination and Vaccination Record before the green card interview. This medical examination is a routine part of all applications for a green card, so much so that many Afghans received required vaccinations and a copy of Form I-693 on military bases after their evacuation to the United States. While a routine appointment for most clients, this was an incredible challenge for Baby P. Because of P’s age, she was not eligible for many of the required vaccinations at the time she was evacuated to the United States, when she was only months old. Now, she wouldn’t be eligible for lawful permanent residency without it.

Victoria sprang into action. Working with P’s father, Victoria worked with P’s pediatrician to schedule her for all of the required vaccinations and for the required medical exam with a civil surgeon. After days on the phone with the Virginia Department of Health, pediatricians, and doctors’ offices, Victoria was successful in scheduling all of P’s appointments. P completed all of her vaccinations and the required evaluation less than 24 hours before her interview with USCIS.

In March, Clinic Director Kern-Scheerer and Victoria accompanied Baby P and her father to USCIS’s office in Norfolk for her green card interview. At the interview, Baby P’s application for lawful permanent residency was approved. Now, Baby P and her family can live safely in the United States and apply for citizenship in just a few short years.

“Attending P’s green card interview was definitely a highlight of my Immigration Clinic experience,” said Victoria. “Before law school, I taught elementary school English for Speakers of Other Languages in Baltimore and have always had a special place in my heart for serving youth and their families. I was thrilled to be able to continue my passion for working with children though the Immigration Clinic by working on P’s case. It is so meaningful to me to know that my contributions help give her family the comfort and security of knowing that their daughter will now have permanent residency in the United States.”

“Baby P’s case is one example of the extremely unusual and complicated situations that arise in times of chaos, crisis, and displacement,” said Professor Kern-Scheerer. “I’m proud of our Clinics students’ tenacity, empathy, and ability to dive in and get this family exactly what they deserved and needed. The Clinic is honored to help Baby P and her family as they continue their path to becoming US Citizens.”

“I was so happy to hear that Baby P has finally received her green card and that her parents have the security of knowing that she now has the same permanent status that they do,” added Francesca. “When Baby P learns about this whole process when she is older, I hope she will know that everyone who worked on her case was really rooting for her and wishes her and her parents the very best in the future.”

Victories like this are made possible by the Clinic’s generous supporters. You can make wins like this a reality for more immigrants in Hampton Roads by donating to the Immigration Clinic. 

The Clinic cannot guarantee any particular results for any particular individual or particular case. While the Clinic celebrates our victories, we recognize that each case is unique. Every noncitizen should consult with a licensed attorney about their case if they are concerned about their situation or are interested in applying for any form of immigration relief. The Clinic cannot promise any particular outcome or any timeframe to any client or potential client. 

*The family’s name has been changed for confidentiality and security.